Prius Personal Log  #1136

April 2, 2022  -  April 10, 2022

Last Updated:  Sun. 9/18/2022

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What About?  It was quite easy to see the problem this would stir: "23°F is not very cold.  Can you imagine the recharging time at -25°F "  It is basically the new version of FUD.  Rather raise the usual approach, you pose a supposition.  It still just trolling, a new way to stir pointless discussion.  To that, I responded with:  Living in Minnesota, I find it misleading when winter reviews come from temperatures at or barely below freezing.  That's not the real cold I encounter.  Heck, the heat-pump impact is barely noticeable then.  With that said, -25°F isn't informative either.  That's an extreme most try to avoid driving in.  Near 0°F is an entirely different story.  When the mercury drops to that level, it is still business as usual here.  That's the type of review we'll need.  I will hopefully have my 4X long before cold returns here in Minnesota.  We can all find out together how the "minimally impact by winter" expectation plays out.  The pre-conditioning in my Prime keeps pack temperature above 40°F without any trouble even in extreme cold.  So, I'm always intrigued by reviews for vehicles with much larger capacities.

4-09-2022 Unfavorable Reviews.  Targeting Prius Prime as outdated and incapable makes the supposed competition look better.  Each struggles to actually explain why.  They just dance around facts to avoid addresses its purpose.  Fortunately, we look at the situation in a constructive manner: "While I hate to read unfavorable reviews of my beloved Prime, one of the big take-aways is that the Prime pioneered a lot of technology which has since been improved by Toyota in other plug-in offerings and has adopted by many other car makers."  I was pleased to join in to that discussion with:

That reality messes up their narrative.  It is exactly what Volt enthusiasts did too.  Focus was always entirely on Prius.  Everything imaginable was done to avoid, evade, and dismiss other hybrid offerings from Toyota.  Those others had the potential to shatter their status quo, Prius was safe to attack.  They never figured out how effective of a decoy that served.

The bitter reality of Camry hybrid offering a more appealing package with regard to size & power was a constant source of irritation.  I was quite willing to keep poking with that stick too, especially as rumor of a RAV4 hybrid emerged... which would eventually shift focus over to the possibility of a RAV4 plug-in hybrid to follow.  The approach Toyota took with Prius had set the stage for easy spread to other vehicles.  Efforts to divert attention back to Prius was a dead giveaway of recognition their narrative was in jeopardy.

If Prius doesn't re-emerge by name, we will still see the spirit of that mission live on in the bZ nameplate.  Toyota's plan to refine tech in a similar manner will become evident over time, its subtle approach continuing.  Enthusiast fodder for rhetoric always comes from ratings, not real-world results.  For those of us paying close attention, on-going hints of cold-climate performance should stir curiosity.  Statements saying it will be "minimally impact by winter" should serve as a clue that more is at play than official numbers reveal.

In short, those unfavorable reviews are really just noise without much substance.  Toyota continues to effectively achieve change, whether they get credit for it or not.

4-09-2022 Come & Gone.  There was an article published yesterday about that death of Prius.  Its subtitle set the tone: "Plug-in hybrids are no longer novel, and most have now surpassed this pioneering Toyota."  That is the very essence of success.  To no longer be necessary means the status quo has been broken and progress achieved.  My favorite comment about it posted on the big Prius forum was: "They just really wanted to use the come & gone line and didn't care that it was an awkward fit."  To that, I posted:

They have been doing that for over 20 years.  In fact, that is the "Know your audience" origin story.  Enthusiast magazines thrived on what made Prius stand out.  Absence on performance, with emphasis toward delivering an affordable emissions & efficiency choice, was their ideal... an antithesis to their mission.  Each time Prius reaches the end of it cycle (whatever makes it stand out), they write about its demise.  Following that, Toyota ends up reinvented Prius.  It's like the Phoenix rising from the ashes.

This is what the media does.  What Toyota does is stay focused on their own mission.  Prius will very likely stay true to its ability to expand reach, getting those not paying attention to take notice.  Its core purpose was to spread the technology, not to be a sales leader.  That's why it was so easy for the Highlander & Camry hybrids to take a position at dealers.  Prius became that soldier who survived even the most brutal attacks, showing their was something worthy about its engineering.

I suspect Prius will be reborn later with some rather impressive new engineering, a means of reaching audiences the likes of its supposedly competition... those who this magazine caters to... couldn't care less about.  Notice how the article is focused entirely on a perspective of the United States?  My trip to Tanzania last June provided a strong understanding of what completely different markets Toyota serves face when it comes to infrastructure challenges.

In other words, we will see some type of affordable plug-in hybrid emerge there and thrive based upon the path Prius has taken.  What it is called and whether or not the United States gets it doesn't matter.  The practical & affordable nature of the engineering and its rock-solid reliability reputation will live long and prosper.


Too Little, Too Slowly.  Remember that concern?  It came about from GM's bankruptcy.  The task-force empowered to oversee business recovery expressed that.  They figured GM would squander time and miss opportunity... which is exactly what happened.  Fallout from that was to attack Toyota, positioning the spotlight on that automaker instead as a distraction.  That's how the mantra of "too little, too late" came about.  It was a desperate act to avoid admitting that people like me were correct.  The reason concern had been expressed was exactly what ended up happening... which makes looking back to read through that history fascinating.  It played out as predicted.  So when I see the very same thing being posted again, I just have to wonder what in the world they are thinking: "Too little too late, IMHO."  His opinion is based on what?  It certainly isn't audience.  I was happy to point out why too:  That mantra is falling apart.  Such a size & type vehicle with 35+ miles of EV is exactly what the masses are looking for, as interest in plugging in grows and BEV remains impeded due to lack of DC fast-charging.  Keep in mind that many owners won't even have L2 charging at home.  Only having 120-volt access works just fine for a battery-pack that size, so no big deal.  In other words, for mainstream consumers this is right on time.


bZ4X Pricing.  I shared this today: "Prices in Europe are being released now.  For the Netherlands, the high-end model is €48,024.79 which at current exchange-rate is $52,414.50."  Having expected Toyota's vehicle to be competitive with other BEV currently available, along with having to take the high tax-rates into account, that is pretty much what I had expected.  Why would it be any different?  Toyota sees no reason to rush to market or any reason to sell at a loss.  In fact, we were even told the price would be expensive.  Looking at the worldwide market, that should be obvious... especially with supply shortages and shipping challenges.  Prices will be high and delivery waits long.  That sad reality is what we face.  It's not so bad though.  You don't need a lot of vehicles on the road to prove worth and establish expectations.  In fact, we will likely be much better off with a slow rollout.  Remember how it worked with the first Prius?  Toyota intentionally limited inventory.  There was an allocation for each market.  That was it, no more.  Media claimed low sales were due to low demand.  Supply was never mentioned.  Constraints for any reason will skew impression.  Antagonists take advantage of that to distort & mislead.  It's all quite frustrating.  In less than a week, we should know the pricing here in the United States.  My outlook is for the high-end model to resemble what was released today for Europe.


Narrative Feeding.  What a pain.  Every few weeks, the same writer lights a new fire.  He gets paid to feed the narrative of Toyota being anti-EV, which is so wrong...  This is nothing new with regard to Toyota hatred.  Selling lots vehicles to the masses with uninspiring features is very frustrating for an enthusiast.  For someone like this individual, who sees climate change as an immediate crisis to address, those "dull & boring" vehicles are the deemed the enemy.  Even though they do indeed help move us forward, the subtle nature of the approach is counter-intuitive.  He doesn't like bottom-up.  Unless the automaker is taking a top-down approach, he feels the effort will fail.  That's his opinion, but his audience agrees.  Examples of successful bottom-up are outright dismissed by that same audience.  I always find it intriguing how they pretend an analogy doesn't fit the situation, but fail to explain why.  So, I don't often bother... nor do I need to.  With so much real-world experience, stuff I have participated in firsthand, there isn't really any need for analogy.  I only need to point out some relevant history... which is exactly what I did today:  I purchased my first plug-in vehicle from Toyota just a little over 10 years ago, a 2012 Prius PHV.  It got replaced 5 years ago with a 2017 Prius Prime.  That will get replaced this year with a bZ4X.  In the meantime, we have seen rollout of RAV4 Prime and UX300e.  In just 2 weeks, details on RZ450e will be revealed.  Evidence of Toyota investing in and continuing to refine their plug-in hardware & software for an upcoming diverse plug-in product-line is overwhelming.  An article titled "more of the same" saying "small plays in BEV charging" with a claim of "hard to understand Toyota's focus" is evidence of not looking at the big picture.  It is easy to contribute a narrative by not citing all the facts available.


Hand-Over-Hand.  I found this simple explanation of Toyota's innovation simple & refreshing: "Lock-to-lock is set at around 150 degrees, eliminating the need to change grips when steering, greatly reducing the burden on the driver for U-turn, garage parking, and on winding roads."  It was what a steering-yoke needs to be useful.  If you must rotate more than that, you are better off with a regular steering-wheel instead.  This is why Tesla's offering of a yoke is limited to China.  It doesn't make any sense useless you take it a step further like Toyota.  Remember the old days of having to turn the wheel over and over to get into a parking spot?  It was really a pain.  Improvement upon that made such a huge difference, there step forward was obvious.  Whether or not a yoke is ever found useful is missing the point of such innovation.  That improvement to steering, especially with regard to safety, is priceless.  Seeing that others are not recognizing such a step forward is no surprise.  They would have to admit something worse that confirming Toyota wasn't behind.  They would have to acknowledge Toyota was actually showing industry leadership.  Gasp!


Unprepared.  Watching new online groups get attacked is troubling, but quite expected.  I knew such naive new collections of people wanting to take advantage of the purchase opportunity wouldn't be prepared to also deal with problems antagonists created.  When you get identical posts, replying to different comments in the same group but on different topics, you know you are dealing with a troll.  It's obvious to someone who has been exposed to their nonsense for years.  Those newbies haven't.  I posted the following to such troublemaker: "Spreading the same FUD on multiple posts tells us much about the real concern."  Who knows if that will make any difference with that individual.  It doesn't really matter.  The point is to raise awareness for others, those who haven't ever seen such behavior before.  Recognizing the pattern is key.  First, you have to be informed what to look for.  Dealing with consequences of such efforts to undermine comes later.  It came be quite frustrating to watch such blatant attempts to mislead take place.  Addressing ill intent like that is part of the process.  Changing the status quo will inevitable stir pushback in a wide variety of different forms.  Preparation has to start somehow.  Calling out the attack was how I choose to begin the process.


200,000 Limit.  It appears as though Toyota just barely stayed under the tax-credit limit, delaying phaseout being triggered for an additional 3 months.  That's great, since I will be one of those lucky individuals who will benefit from the timing.  As of the end of last year, the total of all qualifying Toyota & Lexus vehicles combined came to 190,047.  Sales in the first quarter of this year was 8,424.  That brings the grand total to 198,471.  Once that 200,000 is hit, the quarter comes to a finish unchanged.  In this case with Toyota, that would be until June 30.  Then for all of the next quarter (July 1 to September 30), the full credit of $7,500 is still available.  The change is that vehicle quantity doesn't matter.  We saw Tesla take advantage of that opportunity with their "production hell" to get as many Model 3 produced as possible.  GM did nothing.  Bolt just floundered in place.  Since the industry is still struggling with chip shortages, the expectation for Toyota is for some inventory to favor the United States.  That won't equate to a huge supply, but it would help boost adoption & support.  For the two following quarters (October 1 to March 31), the credit drops to half ($3,750).  The final timespan is also two quarters (from April 1 to September 30) with the credit halved again ($1,875).  Bringing us to that final quarter of 2023 will be an interesting experience... one I am really looking forward to.  New rollout is always fun.

4-03-2022 Investment.  Sometimes, an antagonist pushes their luck.  The only audience for this sees supply shortages and infrastructure struggle.  It's a battle that simply isn't worth fighting.  Yet, we get nonsense like this anyway: "Relative to the number of cars they make, to be able to make as many BEVs (relatively speaking) Toyota should have planned 3x to 4x the investment they announced, both for North America and globally."  It is a reveal of not having actually considered what the industry is actually facing, until now.  Seeking to make Toyota a scapegoat won't change anything.  Heck, it probably won't even make them feel any better... which is why I posted this:

It is quite telling to watch people draw conclusions based on anecdotal observation, then declare arbitrary goals from that.

I was in Tanzania last June.  Almost all the non-commercial 4-wheel vehicles were Toyotas.  It was fascinating to see how such a profoundly different market utilizes transportation.  I felt quite fortunate to get such an opportunity to see what North American & European consumers simply cannot relate to.

Offering a BEV in that market makes no sense.  A solar-equipped PHEV with solid-state batteries is an entirely different matter.  Your "should have" doesn't take any of that into account though.  You portray Toyota consumers as all the same, able to purchase a new BEV and conveniently keep in charged.  That doesn't even make sense here in the United States. Toyota has been #1 due to being able to reach such diverse markets, adapting to each audiences particular needs.

Ironically, measure of investment is inaccurate.  You are forcing a paradigm as if that was the only means of success.  It is not. There is more than one path, but there is a narrative in place with the hope of preventing others from seeing it.

Go ahead, say whatever you want.  Conclusions drawn like that have made provided insightful perspective when looked back upon, informing us why certain groups took particular actions.

The lesson learned from our past is to focus on goals, rather than committing to just a single solution.  You'll find the one-for-all approach pretty much never works.


Fast-Charge Education.  I was always beside myself at how the topic was always avoided.  Tesla was treated as king, but the reason why always came down to convenience.  Actual detail was basically avoided.  Supporters didn't see any type of competing standard on the horizon, so they didn't bother to share numbers.  The entire topic remained vague until just recently.  SuperChargers were actually rather slow by the new standards.  That is likely why.  When the bar is raised, it usually reveals shortcomings.  A lot of state & federal money being allocated for CCS charging... the technical standard also used across Europe, for all BEV including newer Tesla... is stirring the topic of discussion now.  I'm excited.  We will be getting some long-awaited infrastructure.  Of course, that means Toyota arrived right on time, not late as oh so many have claimed.  Anywho, I added to today's exchange of information on the topic:  Don't overlook the reality that DC charging is not linear. Far too many people assume is a constant rate.  It most definitely is not.  Speed varies upon both SOC and chemistry.  So even if the pack is optimally warmed prior to start, your results will still vary.  Typically, charging starts extremely fast, maintains that for a bit, then drops at a fairly steady & obvious rate.  Once SOC hits 80% though, rate plummets... which is why most quoted times stop at that point.  For formerly favored chemistries, like NCA and NMC, you simply avoid ever charging past that point anyway (since it is a longevity tradeoff)... except on long trips where you really need to push range.  With LFP chemistry, charging all the way to 100% is harmless & routine.  However, rate will still experience some type of drop beyond 80%.  In other words, there are many speed influences and we have only addressed them in a rudimentary manner.  The summary of "it depends" is fitting.  Also, keep in mind that the general recommendation for long-distance travel is to not even charge to 80%.  You are better off DC fast-charging more often with a battery already warm from driving . That equates to stopping to recharge at 10-20% and ending the session around 60%, which tends to be the sweet-spot for speed.


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