Prius Personal Log  #1133

March 19, 2022  -  March 23, 2022

Last Updated:  Sat. 3/26/2022

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Another Report.  Study after study continue to be published.  Most are nothing but a series of graphs without any detail or methodology.  The only thing they provide is an executive summary.  Ugh.  Yet another emerged today.  It compared "gas-powered" vehicles to "electric".  The 3 chosen for gas were F-150, RAV4 and Civic.  I was immediately frustrated.  Why the omission of hybrids?  I turned that question on the republisher, not the source.  They have a reputation for being quite hostile toward anything without a plug.  Exclusion of hybrids was quite hypocritical.  To hate them so much, but then not sight them in the argue reveals a blatant lack of objectivity.  It was a cherry-picked report and the blog using it for material to publish did not call out that fact.  So, I did:  Comparison reports that misrepresent are nothing new.  But in this case... from a group who raised such a stink about "self-charging" misrepresentation... there's no excuse to not mention the omission hybrids.  Sienna, Venza and Sequoia becoming hybrid-only makes the category of "gas-powered" quite misleading, especially when you look at the growing trend toward choosing the hybrid model from the vehicle sighted in this very report... RAV4.  A quick check on of RAV4 AWD compared to RAV4 AWD Hybrid shows a savings of $3,500 in fuel costs over 5 years by choosing the hybrid instead of the traditional model.  That should immediately raise a red-flag about the cost-per-mile values quoted in the report.  I'm all about endorsing plug-in vehicles, but want no part of any misrepresentation for the gas-powered vehicles they are replacing.


Beyond Range.  This statement got me thinking: "Most people only want/need 1 car.  Heck, we have 2 cars and I want them all to be EV."  Obsession with having enough range falls apart a whole lot easier than I ever imagined.  The belief is there's a point which you have enough.  Reality is, there will never be enough.  No matter what the supposed threshold... 200 miles... 300 miles... 400 miles... 500 miles... someone will always sight the need for more.  Our trips out to visit my sister-in-law are 750 miles, each way.  That is a long day of driving.  With the heater in use, how much capacity is wanted or needed?  That is pretty much impossible to answer.  At some point, you will have to stop to recharge.  Carrying a massive amount of capacity rarely ever required simply makes no sense.  That would negatively impact efficiency and make the vehicle horribly expensive.  Destinations beyond range are avoided discussion.  Enthusiasts don't want to talk about that.  It is a corner they back themselves into.  I presented one such individual today with such an opportunity by replying to that quote above with this:  Then it really isn't a matter of range.  WANT is for more range, just in case.  NEED would be for DC fast-chargers... since it is very easy to drive beyond even the longest range.


Do The Math.  Antagonists continue with their attacks, growing even more desperate.  The latest attempt was to go all the way back to 2014.  Funny part is how that backfired.  I looked closely at the image posted and noticed detail.  This is what they don't want you to point out.  So of course, I did:  Ironically, that 8-year-old claim of "Misleading Lexus Ad" is itself misleading.  Anyone who takes the time to actually seek detail will see it is accurate.  That is a J1772 connection. Back then, the fastest AC speed you could expect any vehicle to pull from it is 11.5 kW.  For that matter, still to this day that is the fastest AC speed from a public charger you can expect to find.  Back then, outside of the Tesla world, DC fast-charging simply wasn't realistic.  For that matter, still to this day that's the case in many areas.  As for the 4 hours, do the math.  It is correct.  That fastest AC line is 60-amp providing a steady 48 amps at 240 volts.  The best return will be 46 kWh (that's 11.5 kW times 4 hours).  Assuming you started with a warm battery-pack almost totally depleted... 3% remaining... 80% of the largest expected capacity of the time... 60 kWh... you get 46 kWh.  It's all quite telling when those presenting a narrative get caught up by detail.  In this case, it reveals a desperate effort to use the past to distract from what's happening now.  Instead of 11.5 kW from that old connection shown in the ad, you can now pull 150 kW.  That same 46 kWh takes only a fraction of the time.... about 20 minutes.


Smug.  It's happening.  They have no idea how to handle what Toyota is about to deliver: "If only the Bz4x had the same range as a Tesla.  200 miles (awd version) is kinda pathetic.  They'll learn when sales are low, however."  The cold, hard reality that they need to basically outright lie now.  The cheapest Tesla right now is the Model 3 RWD.  It is $48,490 without inclusion of the $1,200 destination fee.  Range is 267 miles.  Range of the FWD version of bZ4X is only 17 miles less.  Yes, 250 miles... not the claimed 200.  Having to be dishonest is a dead-giveaway of trouble.  Having attitude about it is smug.  I didn't even bother to address that though.  I went for the lower-rated model, the AWD version of bZ4X by posting:  228 miles is the rating for Solterra, just 2 miles shy of F-150 Lightning.  bZ4X will be similarly rated, with a expectation of less winter impact due to the radiant heater.  That said, why would sales be low?  An affordable price combined with a great warranty will draw interest.  Think about how their hybrids achieved a wide variety of models.

3-21-2022 Rose-Colored Glasses.  We are seeing the GM hype efforts begin.  Equinox is getting some press.  There's no detail of an sort, just some photos.  But we all know how this will play out.  There are some who choose to disregard the past though, hoping for something different this time without anything to provide such an expectation.  It's rather disturbing how gullible some people are.  I have no doubt GM will deliver improvement over Bolt.  But just like Volt, the timeline & price simply aren't realistic.  I had provide such a reminder, again:

The long history of "nicely under $30,000" has a repeating theme of "over promise, under deliver" that shouldn't just be glossed over.  Think about what challenges emerged preventing that past from ever becoming a reality.  Think about what happened each time a challenge was addressed.

Start by looking at the bigger picture.  Model 3 basically killed Model S.  That put Tesla in difficult position, much like GM already was.  It is a cannibalization problem that is all too real when addressing lower priced models.  Even worse is the Osborne Effect.  When alternative purchase options are either limited or non-existent, what do you do?

This is exactly why Toyota has taken the bottom-up approach instead.  Phasing out traditional models in favor of hybrids and plug-in hybrids softens the inevitable... but quite unpredictable... tipping point.  There's a rather obvious lack of diversity Toyota is addressing but GM & Tesla enthusiasts continue to turn a blind-eye toward.  What will those shoppers purchase?

It begs the question how Equinox will be handled.  By the end of 2023 when it is rolled out, Toyota would have established 4X and likely would have set the stage for 3X while at the same time continue to update & expand PHEV models.  Looking elsewhere, we see VW will be solidifying their variety of offerings.  It is quite reasonable to expect Kia & Hyundai to continue expand their line-up.

Lastly, there's the issue of reputation.  Finding out well Ultium performs will take awhile.  Customers who seek a $30K price tag are not risk-takers.  Waiting a few years for reliability to be proven is a normal step, patience early-adopters simply cannot relate to.  Meanwhile, sales of traditional Equinox will continue in high-volume.

In short, a MASSIVE success is likely... but will take a lot of rose-colored glasses will be needed before reaching that point.


How Do They Know?  When you get caught off guard without anything rebuttal, raise doubt.  Ugh.  I find that so irritating.  Antagonists on the big Prius forum do that all the time.  They pretend none of the past exists, that somehow Toyota is starting from stretch and none of their past experience counts.  Asking how Toyota is able to provide such a confidence for longevity from an article with this title is especially frustrating: "Toyota Emphasizes Battery Durability in High-Stakes Electric SUV".  Of course, it was obvious the article itself wasn't read.  There were lots of great quotes from it.  I really liked this one: "What will really stand out will be the battery's durability, according to Ido [Toyota official in charge of the development of the new EV].  Twenty years of tinkering with temperature-management systems and materials has enabled Toyota to target a 90% capacity-retention rate for the bZ4X's battery after 10 years of use. Battery deterioration is a big sticking point for consumers with range anxiety or those hoping to eventually be able to resell their EVs for a decent price."  Doubt emanates from those who constantly send the message of hybrids providing no benefit whatsoever to knowledge of battery chemistry or longevity.  Naysayers work incredibly hard to suppress any idea that experience gained from tweaking how those cells are build & maintained could possibly be useful for plug-in vehicles.  Again, ugh.  They treat the well-informs like idiots, desperately trying to shut us up and discredit our message of confidence.  This is how building from the bottom-up shows great advantage over top-down.  Anyone can just add capacity to make up for a shortcoming.  But if you start at a disadvantage from not giving yourself that option, necessity results in discovery.  You get innovative.  It's the Toyota way.  Fail quickly through continuous improvement.  That effort to try without major consequence can really pay off.  Toyota is more of a risk taker than enthusiasts care to admit.  They just hope you'll never notice so many small steps being taken.  They try to spin their own narrative by focusing on only the big steps, what other automakers are doing.  To that nonsense, I keep my replies brief... as I did today:  25 years of trying to squeeze out the most from the least without sacrificing longevity has made Toyota experts at battery management.  Think about the previous plug-ins, like the Primes (Prius & RAV4) and the converts (CH-R & UX300e).


Terrible Name.  You know Toyota is onto something when the initial criticism is on something trivial and nothing of substance follows.  I have seen that pattern again and again.  This is what we are seeing now: "You would think the Toyota model would be much more popular than the Subaru but with that terrible name, I'm not so sure."  So many reviews start that way, you have to wonder if they are struggling to say anything.  Think about it.  When you build your reputation as a EV critic by criticizing Toyota, then Toyota finally delivers what you said would never happen...  What can they say?  Countless antagonists have been trying to paint a picture of dome & gloom.  Remember how Prius PHV was doomed?  Toyota had supposedly backed themselves into a corner by designing a hybrid system incapable of EV drive.  Then comes along Prius Prime with to-the-floor all-electric acceleration.  That shut critics up.  Nothing could be said without sounding hypocritical.  Now seeing bZ4X actually exceed some abilities from competitors, what do you focus on?  It will be a true SUV, delivering rather impressive off-road capabilities.  With he 8.3 inches of ground clearance and 50 cm (19.685 inches) of water depth it can drive through, how do you argue that it is just another crossover?  Delivering 150 kW of DC fast-charging is a maximum above a few other popular compares... like ID.4 and Mach-E... also puts naysayers in a difficult position.  And for the radiant heating, everyone is dead silent on that feature.  It is the "killer app" they hadn't anticipated, something which directly addresses a shortcoming all BEV across the industry have struggled.  So, they pretend those features don't exist.  I'm still baffled by the absence of a heat-pump and battery-warmer on some models from competitors.  Things like that make a difference... stuff enthusiasts try to avoid discussion of.  I'm looking forward to confronting them later on those topics, once I finally take delivery and have collected some real-world data... just like I have done in the past.  For now though, it is dealing with the name nonsense:  What makes 4X so difficult to accept?  No one is going to actually say the bZ part once the second planned vehicle in that series is revealed.  Notice how other plug-ins, like M3, have commonly used short names?  It is only terrible if you take it out of context and for a paradigm that people won't recognize "bZ" as a new BEV platform from Toyota.


Old Wives' Tale.  We have all heard the stories... once upon a time, someone invented an engine that could deliver amazing efficiency, then an automotive industry investor purchased it and prevented anyone from ever using the technology.  There is actually some truth to that.  It really did happen, but that was with regard to battery technology.  There really was an entity who held back NiMH with that very intent.  Toyota really was limited by what they could do with their hybrids.  But when that patent finally expired, the game changed.  We are actually seeing that happen right now with LFP too, but that patent was actually used to protect the business rather than impede it.  The story today was about efforts decades ago.  Supposedly, the guy actually knew who it happened to.  Of course, no detail was ever shared.  It was hearsay without any merit whatsoever.  Being nonsense or legitimate doesn't matter.  The same response is appropriate under any circumstance.  You focus the bigger picture.  It is easy to check a box in the list of deliverables.  Checking many is far more of a challenge.  To do something to the extent I have witnessed Toyota strive for, that's an entirely different level of complexity.  This is what I ended up posting:  Building a dirty and unreliable engine isn't difficult.  Building something clean that's pretty much maintenance free is extremely difficult, especially if you want it to be affordable too.


Letter & Number Soup.  Those new to all of this... most of the population... will have no idea what we are talking about.  It is just letter & number soup to that, an endless stream of unfamiliar acronyms.  For those who are familiar, I have detail to share.  In this case, it was to a friend who had corrected a typo in my previous post.  I expressed appreciation for that and followed up with:  We have a lot of numbers and letters to pay attention to now.  The ones I have been focusing on are LFP and CATL.  There was an article yesterday about the Subaru specifically pointing out CATL would be the provider.  That was my guess for the AWD models.  (It seemed more likely the higher volume FWD would be supplied by Panasonic.)  Does CATL produce NMC or NCA cells or are they entirely LFP?  btw, I do have a deposit down on a 4X AWD Limited.  It's directly through the dealer.  When the pre-order process begins, hopefully that order will match up with my request.  Whatever the case, I don't expect it to be quick.  Loooooong wait deliveries are just part of the process I have become accustom to.


Useful Info.  We are starting to get tidbits now.  Subaru's official EPA rating was revealed yesterday.  This was on big reason why detail from Toyota has been held back for their AWD model.  That is all Subaru will offer and giving them the opportunity to have the spotlight was important in this partnership.  It does make me wonder if charging-speed or usable-capacity will differ significantly from the FWD model.  It expanded upon having just learned about the 102 MPGe efficiency rating, which works out to 3.03 mi/kWh.  This comment pondered all of that with similar intrigue to mine: "72.8kWh gross, 9 hours to charge at 6.6kW AC, so the net is around 60kWh?  That s a huge buffer!  Might explain how Toyota can claim "90% capacity" after 10 years - it'll just eat into the buffer.  Not a bad idea."  I couldn't help but to indulge with:  Automakers can set whatever upper-limit they want.  It is at their discretion how much longevity they want to trade for range.  btw, that AC charge rate of "6.6 kW" is a generalized rating for us here in the United States.  Commercial stations delivering 32 amps at 208 volts (3-phase) equates to that value.  You try the same at home with 32 amps at 240 volts (single-phase), you end up pulling 7.2 kW despite the 6.6 kW rating.  It's exactly the variance we have seen with RAV4 Prime.  So, estimated times without context don't tell us much.  I suspect Toyota is playing the longevity card, not pushing the buffer.  It's not like I haven't seen that firsthand.  Our 2017 Prime have never accepted as much electricity as later years.  The advantage now is being connected for OTA updates allows Solterra/bZ4X to be monitored & adjusted based on that particular vehicle's status, not some generic setting for the entire model rollout.  Allowing us to exceed the buffer for long trips as other automakers do, milking 100% of the pack would achieve range approximations we are now seeing... 72.8 kWh at 3.03 mi/kWh = 220 miles.


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