Prius Personal Log #1139
April 16, 2022 - April 24, 2022
Last Updated: Sun. 9/18/2022
page #1138 page #1140 BOOK INDEX
Awake All Along. Anecdotal observations like this are
interesting: "Toyota has nobody to blame for its present position in the
EV race but itself. It had all the advantages it needed to form an
unassialable lead, but squandered them leaving new startups like Tesla to
carry the day. However, the japanese giant has woken from its slumber
and is staging a comeback worthy of its status. The company has
revealed an EV that shocks the whole car industry. How is Toyota
finding its path back to the apex of EV making and what new EV has the
It confirms that many from the media were not paying attention. They don't study history and they certainly weren't a participant in what they report. That's what feeds a narrative. In this case, the assumption is obvious. They have no clue what Toyota learned from hybrids.
If you read my blogs, you'll see a repeating theme when from other legacy automakers. They were basically absent, refusing to engage. Toyota struggled to stir interest. They couldn't care less. Emissions & Efficiency were not priorities, an expense easily avoided. Toyota needed them. No matter how good Toyota's tech was, the industry would be stuck at status quo without other players. In other words, their choice really wasn't a squander. It was a plan to get them involved.
Another theme you notice is mention of TOP-DOWN verses BOTTOM-UP approach. That first is what gets all the attention. It is what media is drawn to and what enthusiasts thrive on. The latter is basically ignored. When an attempt is made to shift focus to the latter, it is just dismissed or the subject of hydrogen is brought up as a diversion. Toyota has been quietly investing, pursuing that bottom-up by making changes that pretty much go unnoticed.
Evidence of this was how TNGA was rolled out. Such a fundamental change for improvement to design and lowering cost is absolutely vital. It success is how e-TNGA came about. That annoucement in October 2019 was as revolutionary as the reveal of Prius back in October 1997. Yet, no one really understood what it meant. That was confirmation of the BEV shown back in the spring of 2019 were indeed being taken seriously. Toyota was wide awake all along.
Some Of Them. It needed to be said. I'm glad someone finally did: "I see a lot of people (journalists/reviewers) mocking the name of the bZ4X like it’s stupid or awkward. So what the difference from ID.4? One extra character and it’s complicated all of a sudden. Some of these guys are idiots." I was more than happy to return some commentary for that of my own: That obsession with the name is a diversion. After having pushed the narrative about Toyota for so long and now being faced with a contradiction to that stance, it's the only thing they can focus on without being identified as hypocritical. Notice how Model 3 is just referred to as "M3" for the standard and "3LR" for the long-range? For those not paying attention to existing Toyota plug-ins, note that "PP" is commonly used to refer to Prius Prime and "R4P" for RAV4 Prime. Referring to bZ4X by just calling it "4X" will naturally happen... which especially makes sense since we already know a trademark filing has been submitted for several other "bZ" intended vehicles. Think about how "4X" fits into the market with ID.4 and EV6.
BEV Efficiency for AWD. Obsession with range and
recharging speed is a clear loss of priority. Neither does anything to
reduce actual consumption. In fact, carrying more battery for
increased range decreases efficiency and faster charges negatively impacts
longevity. Actual efficiency ratings are pretty much never discussed.
It's really sad. Using less electricity should be a priority. It
wasn't back in Volt's time and little has changed since. I'm
determined to change that around, directing attention to those numbers
enthusiasts have been avoiding. Here's my start of that:
At least we'll be getting a BEV system that's decent in terms of efficiency. After all, there are 30 states that now offer per-kWh pricing rather than per-minute at DCFC. That means the amount of electricity itself needed to recharge makes a difference, while away and at home. Since I have my sight set on AWD, that's the numbers I researched with regard to similar size & price vehicles:
93 MPGe combined = 36 kWh/100mi = 2.76 mi/kWh = AWD Ford Mach-E
94 MPGe combined = 36 kWh/100mi = 2.79 mi/kWh = AWD Toyota RAV4 Prime
98 MPGe combined = 34 kWh/100mi = 2.91 mi/kWh = AWD Hyundai Ioniq 5
101 MPGe combined = 33 kWh/100mi = 3.00 mi/kWh = AWD VW ID.4
102 MPGe combined = 33 kWh/100mi = 3.03 mi/kWh = AWD Toyota bZ4X Limited
104 MPGe combined = 32 kWh/100mi = 3.09 mi/kWh = AWD Toyota bZ4X XLE
105 MPGe combined = 32 kWh/100mi = 3.12 mi/kWh = AWD Kia EV6
131 MPGe combined = 26 kWh/100mi = 3.89 mi/kWh = AWD Tesla Model 3 LR
For perspective, if you are driving a Prius Prime with only electricity, it tops all those examples:
133 MPGe combined = 25 kWh/100mi = 3.95 mi/kWh = Toyota Prius Prime
Producing Millions. This type of attitude is quite common at the stage we are now in: "Please tell me of another company that is ready to make millions of cheaper $25,000 EV's within the next 24 months? I will be waiting." Just prior to rollout, antagonists basically have free reign of online venues due to the proximity to rollout. Why engage in their rhetoric when real-world data will be available soon? I was quite annoyed by that post due to its arbitrary milestones. Choosing a value & date like that serves no purpose. We have had the "nicely under $30,000" target for ages, with a date goal that continues to shift. Remember GM? I recognize that price comes from Tesla, but it was nothing but a generic category reference without any substance. Fortunately for us, we are well aware of what takes place elsewhere. Forcing a perspective of only-this-market is a narrative attempt. Some of us work hard to prevent that. In this case, one such individual worked extra hard by coming up with a list to end that antagonist's wait: BYD, GM-Saic-Wuling, Tata, Mahindra, Ora, Smart, Chery, leap motors, Dacia, VW, Fiat, Renault.
kW Rate. Understanding it isn't easy. The reason why is a speed category is used due to variance of source. It's nice when someone actually recognizes that... something that rarely happens. It did today though: "The 6.6 rate will be fine for overnight charging though I would have expected 7.2. Both require a 40 amp circuit." Seeing both had the same input in common is a great start. I provided some insight with the hopes of stirring a greater interest: That "6.6" value is really just a generic rating. You will see faster. From a commercial charger, voltage is lower since it is a 3-phase feed. That is just 208 volts. With a maximum draw of 32 amps, you can only pull 6.6 kW. At home, you have single-phase electricity. That is supposed to provide at least 240 volts. Drawing 32 amps from that delivers a maximum of 7.68 kW. My Prius Prime has a "3.3" rating. I do indeed see exactly that at ChargePoint stations. But at home, initial draw is 3.73 kW (242 volts * 15.4 amps). It then settles down to a sustained 3.61 kW (242 volts * 14.9 amps). Doubling to 32 amps for (eventual) charging of my bZ4X, it is quite realistic to expect 7.2 kW.
Worldwide Expectations. It is very difficult to have anything constructive outcome from someone who believes this: "Countries all over the world are banning the internal combustion engine. Whether this is the right thing to do doesn't matter at this point. They're banning them. And if a car company is not ready to deal with that reality…" There are so many different countries (195) that such a vague statement doesn't make sense. It is a generalization, at best. The what & when information is quite vital and quite absent. My reply to his absense of critical thought was: Why do you believe Toyota will be pushing the variety of solutions to all markets equally? That doesn't make any sense. Where the bans will be coming, that's where BEV rollout will be heavily focused. Toyota sales worldwide are extremely diverse. When I was in Tanzania last June, a country dominated by Toyota consumer vehicles, it simply made no sense whatsoever for a BEV. That very limited infrastructure will easily shift over to hybrids and plug-in hybrids though. bZ4X & RZ450e demonstrate how Toyota's PHEV experience with all-electric drive is carrying forward to BEV. The next dedicated-platform "bZ" will likely be smaller, taking advantage of what the initial offerings taught from the various market responses. So, that "not ready to deal with reality" doesn't actually match reality. They are indeed dealing with it.
RZ450e. That model of Lexus sharing the same platform as bZ4X and Solterra was revealed today. I was patiently waiting to finally post this: It puts those who complained about power asking "why didn't Toyota" in an awkward position. Because it turns out, Toyota did. bZ4X offers two configurations. FWD has a 150 kW motor in front. AWD has two 80 kW motors, one in front and the other in back. The bewilderment of reviews is why didn't Toyota just put another 80 kW motor in the back of the FWD to make the AWD? That reality of cost & weight was simply dismissed as unimportant, as was how that shifted focus from need to want... which is something a luxury model would offer instead. RZ450e does exactly that. You get that 150 kW motor in front and an 80 kW in back. Makes you wonder if those same people who complained will acknowledge that Toyota didn't drop the ball or miss opportunity. It was really a matter of looking at the bigger picture and showing some patience (waiting just 8 days). Some of us had already speculated Toyota will do exactly what they revealed today.
Different Priorities. I had a lot to say on this topic today: Claims of "kicking & screaming" come down to audience. It's getting difficult to deny that was used as a distraction from addressing the challenges other automakers have faced. Priorities are changing now that the technology is proven. Moving to the next stage is something some are not ready for. Tesla falls into the one-hit-wonder category, shifting from S/X to 3/Y. They are large, expensive and overpowered. Absence of diversity is a red-flag for its supposed mission to be an automaker for all. GM has been lost, pursuing conquest rather than focusing on their own loyal customers. Their high-end and one-off choices are not a real answer. That long promised "nicely under $30,000" goal remains in the someday category. Fortunately, we are seeing Hyundai/Kia and VW on that track to deliver mainstream choice. Unfortunately, their offerings don't focus on right-size configurations yet. Emphasis has been on want, rather than need, so far. Toyota gets a lot of grief for targeting 250 miles (EPA range estimate) and 150 kW as a useful balance for their own showroom shoppers. That gets twisted into a narrative of "kicking & screaming" when it is really a matter of ignoring noise from enthusiasts. What they deem important is not what critical thinking tells us. It should be obvious how different priorities are.
Didn't Mention Tesla. There are a few who are starting to get annoyed, making up excuses when Tesla is often excluded from discussion. For example: "John likely didn't mention Tesla as it's not a legacy manufacturer." Knowing this Tesla owner well, I knew he was frustrated. He has frequently expressed vexation from me not sighting Tesla as an example. He also very frequently still refers back to Toyota's supposed anti-EV campaign, way back in 2014. Yes, that was 8 years ago. Let it go. Focus on campaigns happening now, like the crab-walk commercial GM keeps showing for Hummer EV. How exactly is a monster electricity-guzzler with such a feature helpful toward changing the status quo? The same old activity will take place at dealers as in the past. There is still nothing for ordinary consumers. Focus remains on conquest. Ugh. Anywho, this is why I didn't mention: This is where know your audience comes in. Tesla simply isn't interested in the market where Toyota thrives. Tesla is clearly showing desire to remain a premium automotive brand and an energy company. Heavy investment in FSD, Solar and Storage confirms favor for that focus. Whatever mission Tesla had long ago to deliver an affordable vehicle solution for the masses has been all but abandoned. In fact, we can already see evidence of China moving into that position Tesla never entered. So long story short, Tesla isn't worth mentioning in this context... the mission to reach ordinary consumers, people like my mother. That audience would never consider anything resembling "new tech" but they are very receptive to the "dull appliances" from Toyota. It is why 4X rubs enthusiasts the wrong way. They don't like KISS.
Taking Risk. Online rhetoric is that Toyota doesn't take risk. Unsurprisingly, that comes from enthusiasts who thrive on the latest & greatest. So naturally, they nit-pick looking for fault. That means we get frequent complaints meaningless to Toyota's own customers. They like making a big deal of it though. I find it quite informative, because sometimes a comment like this backfires: "No head-up display, not even as an option." That one was especially pleasing to respond to as well: The new display location is a replacement for heads-up, standard. Many reviewers have pointed out their initial uncertainty & concern, but then found it quite nice. This is one of those hypocritical features, where others claim Toyota is conservative and avoids ever taking a risk... then they find obvious contradiction staring them (quite literally) in the face.
2,846 Photos. That is the count of photos from my Prius album I recently converted and uploaded to the website. The ability for software to increase pixel size with a quality improvement beyond just simple upscaling is truly remarkable. Captures from over 20 years ago look amazing... to the point of being shocking. You wouldn't expect such a significant boost. That very first photo of my first Prius, at the park just hours after purchase, went from a uploaded resolution of 1024 x 680 all the way up to 4096 x 2720. Note that I used the original edit as input, which in many cases was larger... since back then, the cost of storage & bandwidth was quite expensive. No need to optimize anymore. In other words, those oldest photos jumped from 3-megapixel to 11-megapixel with a very noticeable visual gain. Better than original is an interesting twist. The point is, my history book has taken on a much improved look. Photos my my bZ4X will be much better though. With the technology for digital capture dramatically better and my lens now at the professional level, it has turned that work of yesteryear into a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to album additions. In the meantime, check out what started it all. Lots of new pages will come. I have a much better camera now too. Taking new photos will be really fun. It never gets old. Quite the opposite, it keeps getting better!
Absolutely Desperate. I'm seeing more posts like this now: "Toyota you've lost your MOJO! And now you're -VERY- late to the all-electric (BEV) party. P.S. We all know your hybrids were a joke and was only a tool to enforce your legacy of an eternal dependency on fossil fuels. I'm very skeptical of Toyota (or Honda for that matter) chances of success in the years to come." Turns out, enthusiasts are at loss about how to portray Toyota now. Attempts to move the goal-posts are failing. They don't know what to do at this point. Acknowledging that Toyota's focus has been to address the market other automakers have been avoiding... mainstream shoppers... is too much. Heck, even showing signs of audience recognition is a very real problem for them. Ironically, this is a repeat of history. GM is pursuing conquest sales, again. Ford seems to have lots of potential, but there's no plan of any sort to expand offerings. What's new is VW, but not selling ID.3 here is an intentional avoidance. Hyundai & Kia are favoring speed & power, which is also an avoidance. From Nissan & Honda, we still wait. Is the party Tesla? Needless to say, we are back to the "Who?" situation, again. I find it all quite fascinating. Some of the issues I recognize Toyota having dealt with are absent from the discussion of others... hence the desperation. They are beginning to face an unknown and find not having prepared for it is a very big problem... what I warned them was coming. Now, it is in the form of reminders: Toyota customers have witnessed the continuous improvement of hybrids and now many enjoy one with a plug. Refinement of that all-electric hardware & software is quite clear from reviews of this first dedicated-platform BEV. They worked out details to make it reliable & profitable prior to rollout by leveraging the hybrid platform. Claiming "late" falls on deaf ears for those only now beginning to consider a BEV purchase. Your skepticism means nothing to that audience.