Prius Personal Log  #1140

April 16, 2022  -  April 30, 2022

Last Updated:  Sun. 9/18/2022

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Really Behind.  Some keep pushing the narrative: "I think the problem is that Toyota is really behind with EV battery technology.  Hybrid batteries don't translate over to full EVs, and Toyota has spent so much time maligning EVs that they didn't take them seriously.  That's why Toyota finds themselves in the hole that they're in."  My question is, what hole?  Toyota rolls out new tech slowly.  That's just the way they operate.  Responding to online rhetoric doesn't achieve anything.  In fact, it can be counter-productive.  If there is something constructive from an outcry, Toyota will respond.  Remember the crazy hype related to not offering middle-seating in back?  That design came about before Lyft & Uber, prior to the term "gig economy" even being coined.  Audience for Prius Prime was families where the parents have grown up and the kids moved out.  Abruptly shifting from that to hauling strangers in back for money was quite unexpected; nonetheless, Toyota responded accordingly.  You have something useful to contribute in design decisions, Toyota will listen.  Spinning stories about being unprepared don't achieve anything.  That is starting to show too.  If all Toyota has to worry about now is batteries, the rest of the legacy automakers are in trouble.  I put it this way:  The situation is actually the opposite.  Focus on lack of speed for DC fast-charging is a means of diverting attention away from what else was said.  Comments about how well refined the EV drive operates is the last thing anyone hoping Toyota will fail wants to hear.  While other automakers struggle to provide updates, Toyota has already refined their all-electric system by leveraging experience from their plug-in hybrids, EV converts, and hydrogen vehicles.  It's an advantage some what to keep hidden.  I find it all quite telling and very reminiscence of when Toyota's hybrid tech was being spread to other vehicles.  That didn't go well for those wanting Toyota to fail either.

4-30-2022 Bad News.  One of the well known antagonists, who clearly does not like Toyota, posted this following the release of a video showing the AWD model DC fast-charging: "Here's some bad news."  The outcome was already foreseen that a charge from depleted to 80% would take about an hour, twice as long as other common BEV as well as bZ4X itself.  This review was the very first.  He was driving a pre-production model too.  So, there is no way of knowing how up-to-date the software actually was.  Driving impressions are what this stage of review Toyota was focusing on.  What (if any) improvements are coming is a mystery.  The data is real though.  It's the first sampling and a really good one.  The source is known for is lack of bias.  In fact, he even provided his spreadsheet with data-points for us to draw conclusions on our own... rather than getting "bad news" from someone else.  I did exactly that too, downloading the numbers to present my own findings... which I did in reply to his claim:

Know your audience.  4X is targeted at Toyota shoppers who are looking for something that will mostly be driven within their usual travel area.  Road trips will be infrequent and recharge time something to plan for, just like owners of Leaf and Bolt have done.  This is not about appealing to enthusiasts or conquest sales.

Avoiding the data itself by drawing a conclusion for us is a dead giveaway of weakness in the claim.  Vague references further confirm that.  Toyota's priority is longevity and they simply don't place a high priority on the tradeoff from faster DC charging... and you are afraid to acknowledge that.  Here's the detail you attempted to evade:

Speed = Time = State-Of-Charge
87 kW = 4 min = 10 %
83 kW = 8 min = 20 %
67 kW = 12 min = 30 %
58 kW = 19 min = 40 %
50 kW = 26 min = 50 %
38 kW = 34 min = 60 %
28 kW = 45 min = 70 %
18 kW = 62 min = 80 %

Charging from 0% to 80% took what Toyota had stated, about an hour.  So, there's nothing surprising here, no bad news.  That was the expectation set.  It's all about audience & goals.  Remember how the "vastly superior" claims we heard in the past fell on deaf ears.  How is this any different?


AWD Batteries.  They will be different for the AWD model, but only in the United States.  Is that a bad thing?  Some believe so, especially since the DC fast-charging speed will be slower.  Looking up both common chemistries from CATL (the supplier in China), I found they heavily specialized in NCM prior to embracing LFP.  That is the tried & true chemistry for lithium rechargeable batteries.  They are the robust choice.  The choice for range & power draw is NCA, which you'll find is what the upper models of Tesla favored.  Their are tradeoffs.  The energy density for bZ4X is supposedly 152Wh/kg, which is quite good.  There are 96 cells in the 355-volt pack.  That works out to 3.6979 volts per cell.  Between density, voltage and distance being similar to the NCA cells from Panasonic for the FWD model, it is easy to rule out LFP to conclude that NCM will be used.  Here's what I posted in that regard:  The cells from CATL are pretty much guaranteed to be their well-proven chemistry (slower & older).  Their ability to grow and become such a large supplier was based upon that success (recognized by current supply contracts with Tesla, GM and the VW group).  In other words, they fit well with Toyota's goal of delivering a robust battery.  Faster is nice, but don't forget about the tradeoff of longevity for speed.  It will rarely come into play for most customers anyway, including myself.


Forward Thinking.  That doesn't happen much online.  Focus tends to be at the moment, commentary about what is playing out now or very soon.  So, a statement like this totally makes sense: "I think the bz4x is an electric Rav4."  From a long-term perspective, it does not though.  In fact, from any type of business-sustaining view, it does not.  Capitalizing on the RAV4 name could easily have unintended consequences.  Heck, that would likely be an easy way to trigger an Osborne Effect.  If you give the people an impression that RAV4 is being replaced, they may stop buying the current model.  To promote a BEV, you would end up sacrificing the traditional, hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.  That would be suicide.  Basically, the more you think about it, the less sense it makes.  Not wanting to offend anyone not exhibiting critical thought and hoping to stir interest in discussion, I posted:  Having called it that would work against the goal of establishing a new line of dedicated-platform BEV choices and making it clear the design is more than just ICE removal.  Think about what a smaller sized model (like Corolla-Cross) would be called.  bZ3X would be self-explanatory.  It's how you build branding. People frequently referring to bZ4X have already begun calling it "4X" due to "bZ" already being recognizable as a category.  "3X" is a no-brainer then, meaning a smaller crossover.  "2S" would then be even smaller and a sedan.  It is a long-term strategy easy to overlook without any context.


No Evidence.  How many posts can you exchange with someone who is paid to support a narrative?  That writer who routinely publishes anti-EV articles about Toyota thrives on participation with commenters.  The stories he comes up with are pretty bad, obviously a reach.  But then he follows up with comments like this: "I see no evidence yet that Toyota understands that the BEV is here to stay."  That is the blindness I blogged about endlessly about Volt enthusiasts.  They didn't want to see.  That choice to only see a single tree in the forest was a very real problem.  All that mattered to them was Prius.  They had chosen an antithesis and would do everything possible to retain it.  You could never introduce any evidence.  Camry hybrid was unacceptable, too different to be relevant from their perspective.  RAV4 hybrid was too.  But then when RAV4 Prime when from potential threat to actual threat, they abandoned ship.  Toyota had delivered in what their mind was impossible.  They believed their own narrative by dismissing anything that disputed it.  Disregarding evidence by not seeing it... ugh.  That theme continues to this day, but now about Toyota's stance on BEV.  I was all to happy to provide some evidence in that regard, facts that will obviously be disregarded.  Nonetheless, the mention of a forest among that single tree will get noticed by readers... even if that stubborn paid writer doesn't.  I posted and asked:  Omitting first-year allocations to both Europe & China changes perception.  Knowing that Toyota is targeting 100% of Lexus to be BEV in Europe by 2030 does too.  For worldwide distribution, overall full electric (no ICE) for 2030 is targeted for one-third of production.  The claim of "no evidence yet" simply doesn't make sense. Why invest in 7 dedicated-platform BEV then, the upcoming "bZ" vehicles?


Accepting Reality.  I reposted that list of AWD efficiency ratings for the popular BEV choices here.  Someone didn't like that at all, replying with: "You can put it the way you want, 222 miles with a 72.8 kWh battery is awful."  Don't you love how when it is something they don't want to accept as reality, they claim it is your perspective.  Those ratings are not.  I have nothing to do with them.  They are results of standardized tests for industry comparison.  This was my retort:  Those are the facts.  There will always be something better on the horizon, but that is no reason to dismiss what you don't like now.  I see the Subaru/Toyota offering as a competitor right in the middle of the AWD pack.  I also see how enthusiasts refuse to accept basic range (200-250 miles), power (100-150 kW), and speed (0-60 under 8 seconds) as a balance well fit for the masses, trading enthusiast criteria for greater reliability.  Know your audience.


Better Choices.  Someone made a comment about how inefficient Toyota's system was.  Right away, 11 others jumped on the opportunity to like that.  I was delighted to counter with that list from a few days ago.  It pointed out how Toyota's AWD was middle of the pack... not at all what people were claimed as outdated & uncompetitive.  Then, this came along: "Other than ground clearance, this is worse than the ID.4 in nearly every way.  It seems like Toyota came out with an overpriced and underperforming EV to try and prove the CEO's point that they don't sell.  Too bad Subaru hitched their wagons to the ship that still thinks hydrogen is the future."  I was quite amused at that point.  There is a clear effort to evade.  Absence of detail is essential for retaining the narrative.  To ensure substance and critical-thinking is avoided, they always end with some claim about hydrogen.  That unwillingness to face facts is a very good sign.  It is history repeating.  That same thing happened with Volt.  Enthusiasts couldn't actually quantify their "vastly superior" claims.  There simply wasn't enough to justify the supposed better choice.  I'm quite curious how things will play out this time.  The supposed competition isn't focused on the same audience.  That's why I posted the following as a reply:  bZ will have 7 vehicles under its nameplate by 2025.  About 8 more BEV will share a platform.  Toyota's focus is reliability.  What criteria is "nearly every way" is of any significant difference that mainstream consumers will deem a high priority?

4-26-2022 More Attacks.  Pricing & Efficiency detail of Subaru Solterra in the US market was announced yesterday.  Recognizable antagonists jumped on that, spreading the same type of rhetoric as they have for Toyota bZ4X.  It was quite a thrill to already have material available to address some of that.  In this case, I specifically had efficiency numbers.  The guy had made a claim about range, understating the value, then added a vague reference to charging time while on a trip.  He sighted 2 destinations, but didn't include where he would be driving from.  It was nothing but a conclusion, just like the same old nonsense I saw with Volt.  Enthusiasts back then would cherry-pick an example, then do everything in their power to ever support the numbers.  It was always a verdict without evidence.  Ugh.  In this case, even just the efficiency ratings contradict his claim of 160 miles per "one hour" recharge.  I provided some numbers to call him out:

72.8 kWh usable capacity (for estimate value)

104 MPGe combined = 32 kWh/100mi = 3.09 mi/kWh

72.8 kWh * 3.09 mi/kWh = 225 miles

225 miles * 80% = 180 miles


More Excuses.  Coming from the most argumentative troublemakers on the big Prius forum: "Yet, Tesla, with range and power, is one of the top sellers globally..." and "The top selling BEV in China is a tiny city car with a top speed of, maybe, 62mph..."  It's getting rather obvious he is now struggling too.  Toyota delivered on all the minimum criteria BEV supporters deemed essential, then moved on to what Toyota's own loyal customers deem essential.  That puts such an antagonist in a very difficult position.  What is there to argue at this point?  His thrill from online debate is now spoiled.  I fired back to that with:  Directing attention away from mainstream by pointing out luxury & substandard offerings is that narrative.  There's simply no excuse why the basics of range (200-250 miles) and power (100-150 kW) and speed (0-60 under 8 seconds) are not considered ready for mainstream.  All the complaining & whining is a blatant disregard for priorities, an excuse by enthusiasts to focus on want rather than need.  Reality, we have arrived but there is a resistance here to allowing the BEV niche to become normalized.  That is only here in the US. In both China & Europe, attitudes are very different. Here, we know all too well a plug-in does not need to fulfill all requirements to be a practical vehicle for the household.  The voice of enablers continues to undermine progress here, the consequences of which can no longer be denied.


2023 Prime.  On the big Prius forum, we got this from a friend in Canada: "I'd also like to write a reminder that the US is no longer the primary focus for EVs given the policies or lack thereof for advancing zero emission vehicles."  That perspective is quite different from what we hear about Toyota from other sources.  The narrative on other venues portray Toyota as still being an ICE automaker with no interest for plug-in vehicles and an belief that hydrogen will be the only solution.  To that, I have a reminder of my own:  That is precisely what some of us expressed concerns about.  Over and over again, that TOO LITTLE, TOO SLOWLY mantra was stressed as a problem that would come back to haunt us.  I remember all too clearly how smug the Volt enthusiasts were, placing range & power above actually breaking the status quo.  That focus on conquest was a sign of what was to come.  Sure enough, those consequences of not targeting mainstream buyers is now quite apparent.  Notice what is selling well in China & Europe.  The range & power we still mock, belittle and insult here is quite popular there.  Look at how much exactly that is happening with 4X at this very moment.  We still haven't learned our lesson.  There is a narrative of "not ready" reinforced daily here against plug-in acceptance.  It is understandable why Toyota isn't showing preference for this market anymore.  We had our chance and didn't take it seriously.  Heck, we still don't. Our obsession with range & power is undeniable.  Attention should not be on expensive beasts, guzzlers of electricity.  This isn't rocket science.  It is common sense.

4-24-2022 Online Rhetoric.  As more detail gets revealed, the voice of opposition struggles to keep the narrative going: "While it seems they have accepted having to become a manufacturer of plug ins, Toyota has not lined up the suppliers to meet demand."  There's simply no way to portray Toyota as anti-EV with so many reviews pointing out how well refined bZ4X is right out the gate.  It's seems to have already passed VW efforts, from so many first impressions saying the system already appears to be working great.  That's what I said all along.  Experience from the Prime vehicles are setting the stage in both terms of customer & dealer expectation.  Toyota is prepared, not behind, not scrambling, not doomed.  Anywho, this is how I responded to today's nonsense:

That's just online rhetoric, coming from a perspective of impatience and a strategy of short-term gain.  For those of us who study business and thoroughly research, we see Toyota avoiding premature lock in.

Watching reviews of 4X, it's overwhelmingly clear Toyota focused on different priorities.  Speed of recharging and range per charge simply weren't a design emphasis.  While being top importance for enthusiasts, neither is for Toyota's own loyal customers.  They want reliability above all else.  If long-distance travel is rare, so what if DC fast-charging isn't industry leading and you can't travel as far per charge?  That isn't what the audience targeted for 4X is most interested in.

Think about that owner of driving a Corolla or Camry generations old.  What do you think they will replace their car with?  How many families do you know who hands down the old car to a child, then goes out and buys the latest & greatest for themselves.  Toyota seeks their purchases.  Toyota does not pursue conquest sales as the other legacy automakers do.

That's why taking the time with supplier is no big deal.  We know that new plant in the US targeted for a few years from now will be featuring a new chemistry.  What's wrong with that long-term investment while leveraging that partnership with Panasonic and joining up CATL (who also supplies VW and Tesla)?


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