Prius Personal Log  #1141

April 30, 2022  -  May 4, 2022

Last Updated:  Sun. 9/18/2022

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The Game.  That's how enthusiasts perceive the world.  It is why they represent situations as zero-sum and declare victory without having stated goals.  That must-win attitude is short-sighted in terms of duration & scope.  They really don't want to face reality as a whole, so they carve out a section to call their own.  For example: "Toyota's going to be shedding loyal customers if they keep playing this game..."  It is one of those reponses I'll post where it is highly unlikely there will be a reply.  The problem of audience is something enthusiasts avoid at all costs.  It is what ultimately revealed Volt to be a failure.  Conquest was a terrible purpose.  In fact, that very idea of stealing away loyal customers is the essence of conquest.  Turns out, most of the Volt owners did not become loyal to GM.  They just saw Volt as an opportunity.  When something better came along elsewhere, they jumped ship.  That's why I asked "Who?" so often and why I keep bringing up audience now and ask:  Where exactly are said customers going?  The audience for Tesla, Ford and GM is currently quite different.  VW and Hyundai/Kia show potential, but specs are a mismatch.  We see the political game playing out with public chargers here in the US.  Without renewed tax-credits and the fight against public chargers (and lack of a DC standard), there is far from any type of mainstream demand.  Think about conquest verses status quo.  What is actually happening with current Corolla, Camry and RAV4 owners looking for a replacement?  Same question for a very different audience, what about Prius owners?  In other words, what is the criteria for their purchase?  What would compel loyal customers to go elsewhere?  The devil is in the detail... hence the "game".


Rushed.  It is always fascinating how easily history can be twisted & distorted by simply stating something else: "Toyota was rushed on the Prius Prime battery."  That particular example could be applied to just about anything when omitting context.  There was nothing provided to understanding background, purpose or even pressure.  When?  Who?  Why?   Referring back to the past doesn't have any benefit like that.  Unless you include something like what was learned, there is no point.  I was all too happy to supply such context:  It was a matter of priority.  They wanted delivery of something affordable, a product cost-competitive with the actual competition... traditional vehicles.  We see the same thing happening with bZ4X, focus being on pressure from the showroom floor rather than what other automakers are doing.  That's why ev-range & charge-speed isn't as important.  Notice how quickly Toyota was able to follow-up with RAV4 Prime.  Think about when bZ3X could come about.  Prius tends to be a Pheonix.  When you see an apparent end, it rises from the ashes.  Holding off until for a new platform combined with a new battery fits Toyota approach well.  Emphasis is long-term and their own loyal customers.


Survey Surprise.  To get federal grant money for charging-station installs, each state must submit their proposal by the start of August and will receive approval by the end of September.  Here in Minnesota, a survey was sent out to get feedback from anybody willing to provide it.  Unfortunately, that effort came with unintended results: "More last minute requests to respond to a survey.  MnDOT is reporting anti-electric vehicle respondents are flooding their EV Infrastructure Plan Survey, which closes TODAY, Tuesday May 3.  "WE NEED YOUR INPUT!"  I had heard there were several thousand responses.  Sorting through to find constructive data may be a chore... for those without years of experience anyway.  I hadn't realized just how easy it is to sniff out trouble in forums & blogs from those with ill intent.  Genuine questions & concerns stand out, even when you don't have the background.  It's the way information is shared.  If you are trying to get help or provide help, you go out of your way to include detail.  Vague comments are pointless.  They do waste time & resources though.  Someone has to sort through the mess.  Fortunately, the extensive work put forth to become a ZEV state paid off by not only being successful, it also created a network of concerned individuals who can assist with next steps just like this... which is especially useful when anti-electric nonsense like this takes place.

5-03-2022 Overlooked.  There are so many different efforts going on to distract & undermine.  What it comes down to is enthusiasts are coming to realize it will take far longer than ever imagined for BEV to catch on.  Even if the idea is embraced, the actual implementation is quite difficult.  In my +30 year career as a software engineer, I'm well aware of the pains of progress.  That's why I see the resistance to PHEV is futile.  People fear change and the resources simply aren't there for needed support.  Toyota sees how a 72 kWh battery-pack could far more effectively be used as four 18 kWh battery-packs instead.  Those 4 plug-in hybrids would do far more for reducign emissions & consumption than 1 electric-only and 3 traditional vehicles.  Lookign at that bigger picture is something you cannot get enthusiasts to do though... since it wrecks their narrative.  So, I provoke to advance by reminding them of what they deemed important which has now changed:

Reality is, it is DC infrastructure not charging.  From that report just published about the EU, which is much further along than the US (by an indisputably large margin), we see emphasis on ultra-high-speed charging simply isn't there.  Faster is nice, but it is clearly not a priority.

Of the 330,000 publicly accessible charging stations in the EU as of 2021, the distribution was:

  87% under 22kW AC
  6% ≤ 100kW DC
  4% 22-43kW AC
  3% >100kW DC

In other words, this is very much an audience issue.  Targeting that initial market who will charge with AC almost exclusively makes sense... there too, not just here.  It's basic business sense.  You start with the largest group of potential buyers.

Applying a label is pointless.  Bolt was also called a "city" car, yet we saw owners using it for road-trips.  That proved slower DC charging was realistic.  You could do it continuously too.  bZ4X provides liquid-cooling, so no rapidgate issue... a point conveniently overlooked in the discussion here.

5-02-2022 At The Port?  This was a rather interesting post to come up in my feed today: "I've never purchased a vehicle without driving it or riding in it.  That all changed this weekend!  I purchased the BZ4X limited AWD!  Excited to get it in June hopefully, they are at port now."  That would be coming from Oregon.  It seems rather odd to have delivery take an entire month from port.  But then again, shipping has been odd all throughout the pandemic and this is a new launch.  Any news is good news, so I happily posted back with:  I purchased 3 generations of Prius without ever driving them.  Each was exactly as anticipated, somewhat muted with regard to enthusiast appeal, but very well refined right from day one.  That's why I ordered a bZ4X without a second thought.  Bummer is that I'm in Minnesota... now a California rule state, but not in effect until January 2024.  So, I may be in for a long delivery wait like everyone else... except you.  Congrats!

Why?  Absence of certainty is an interesting situation.  It contributes heavily to gaining & retaining attention.  In fact, that's why so many of GM's press releases were that way.  The vague nature would feed enablers.  Toyota's approach is quite different, but doesn't entirely avoid the opportunity.  You don't quite get the complete picture.  Tiny bits of information will be accurate, but you aren't told why.  The result is people asking why.  In this case, it is how come there are batteries supplied from a secondary source.  I provided my insight into that with:  As for why the supply difference, that's easy.  CATL will be able to fulfill a large ramp-up request next year and is quite anxious for the opportunity.  Toyota is expecting initial demand to be 65% AWD from this market.  Since the first year is always a prudent approach, waiting for real numbers to determine next contract volume makes sense.  In the meantime, there is much to do with regard to educating dealer & consumer.  Also, a software update to increase charging speed isn't off the table.  2 different batteries is new many.  Look at what Tesla is addressing right now with NCA verses LFP.  This experiment in America provide Toyota's insight with how they too with address that type of change.  Both LFP and SS will be coming.  Heck, someday we could even have a type of Sodium-based cell, replacing Lithium-based.  In short, don't overlook Toyota's priority on long-term.


This Is Why.  I found this all too familiar: "I make phone calls to Toyota corporate to complain.  I've also verbally complained to dealers and said I would buy a Toyota if they offer an 800 V pack.  And they don't even pay me for my time!"  There is no when or what, nothing helpful.  That complete absense of detail is so vague, it wastes my time.  I wasn't the least bit surprised by this.  Some people who feel they aren't listened to fail to recognize the fact that they don't actually give you anything to listen to.  It's quite ironic.  My guess is the 800-volt perspective comes from being able to provide faster recharging for a lower cost.  The technology basically spreads the load, much like how computers operate faster by from having a wider path available.  Remember the bit upgrades?  Twice was better, but only if you had enough data to take advantage of it.  800 is 400 doubled.  That's great, but what is the anticipated benefit?  Is it really a double of speed or half of amps?  That's a big difference.  The latter means lower cost and lighter weight equipment, but the time remains unchanged.  There's always a catch.  It's a good reason to ask for detail.  So, I did:  What data or specifications did you provide?  I am a software engineer with decades of experience listening to people complain.  Those who don't bother to provide anything, who basically just use their contact opportunity to vent, don't get anything in return.  Work is prioritized & scheduled based on detailed feedback from users.  The more they provide, the greater their potential for an update.  Without any requirements, what do you expect for an outcome?  I need that to justify the cost of the work when updating a system.  Think about how many different ways a BEV can be configured and how many different situations it must be programmed to address.  Saying "800 V pack" tells me nothing with regard to expected outcome.


Setting Expectations.  I finally got a constructive comment to the supposed conspiracy.  He asked: "Could you please show me the evidence that the "audience" understands what a long distance road trip will entail?"  It took me quite awhile to find the right words for a useful reply.  This is what I posted:  Think about what "long distance road trip" means, how each person interprets it in a different manner.  That problem is why a vague "faster than 0 to 80% in an hour" does nothing to set an expectation.  We know that the battery cells will be provided by CATL and they will most likely be NMC.  That means Toyota has some opportunity to adjust software.  Faster is possible and there is flexibility with tradeoffs.  What specifically do you think should be delivered?  Keep in mind that the "audience" here will never be satisfied.  As enthusiasts, that quest for more makes sense.  This is not how the "audience" of showroom shoppers think.  They have different priorities.  Most only ask how far you can drive on a single charge.  There is no understanding because there is nothing they can relate to yet.  It is similar to the problem Toyota had to address in terms of MPG for hybrids.  Since most of their customers never paid attention to efficiency, there was nothing to leverage for understanding.  The lesson learned from that was to set an expectation... exactly what Toyota has done.  Wanting better starts with you suggesting an outcome.  Tell us how long for how much... time... range... price.


Usable Capacity?  What the heck is it?  Hunting around online, I see the Toyota lists "Total Capacity" in their specification pages.  Knowing their approach to deliver KISS, it is easy to interpret that as the usable value.  After all, the percentage displayed in both Prime vehicles treats capacity at way.  You are never informed of what actual is.  However, I stumbled across a pattern online.  Both supposed values for the United States battery-packs have 89.8% in common when you calculate the usable sized people have claimed.  65.4 / 72.8 = 89.8 %.  64.1 / 71.4 = 89.8 %.  That could naturally just be a coincidence.  People assuming a buffer of just under 90% would coem with the same value, especially if they were just trying to validate what they had noticed from others.  In fact, that is the pattern I have observed.  Needless to say, usable capacity remains a mystery.  We may not find out for a long time either.  That type of information is difficult to confirm sometimes.  Though if the battery pack is labeled the same way as it is in my Prime, that may just be a matter of taking off a panel to reveal what is stated in the vehicle itself.  Whatever the case, the uncertainty contributes to twisting of fact.


Seeking Conspiracy.  Some are desperately making efforts to get others to hate: "Toyota purposefully releasing an EV that is a pain to use is not good for anyone."  That statement is obviously false.  In fact, countless BEV owners have already confirmed that.  We hear time and time again that an owner has never used a DC fast-charger.  I even heard that repeated yet again, in person at the MN Owners Circle meeting two nights ago.  Heck, we know of many stories where a Bolt was driven across the country using nothing but slower DC charging.  That maximum of 55 kW is lower than bZ4X by a noteable amount.  The observation in that recent video was about to 40% capacity would be faster.  I suspect Toyota will tweak that some, so you will get a little more.  There is no pain now though.  If you plug in using your level-2 at home, it works fine.  There will never be an issue.  Just ask Leaf owners how well that works.  No big deal.  I fired back at this nonsense with:  Such a narrative is for who?  Know your audience.  That claim contradicts what we have heard from countless reviews already and was reiterated again in this video.  If the owner only drives within their bubble, basically an hour's drive in any direction, they will never have any inconvenience from slow DCFC.  That's it for anything technically related.  The drive itself is great.  Too bad if you can't accept that.  In my case, the real-world scenario is being able to drive the entire Twin Cities area spreading from Minneapolis to both St. Cloud in the north and Rochester in the south.  If I want to go further, I would have to stop to recharge first.  Claiming that doesn't make sense is just nonsense.


How much is Zero?  That very real question came up again.  It's what online journalists (the real thing, those who objectively assess) must know to determine range for each BEV.  They drive the vehicle until is comes to a complete stop, the battery entirely depleted.  Some are programmed to slow as that 0% is approached.  When bZ4X was being filmed for the DC fast-charging measure, that point was not reached.  The journalist simply didn't have time.  So, he stopped when the display indicated it and mentioned to us that power had not been ramped down.  Feeling normal still did make him wonder.  I made me wonder too, especially since I had a little insight as to Toyota's approach from the past... which I shared:  When Kyle gets an opportunity to drive until the vehicle will no longer move for the 70 mph range video, it wouldn't surprise me at all to find out the 0% observed on the 4X display for this DC fast-charging video wasn't really 0%.  That comes from knowing the lengthy history Toyota has with owners driving well past the low-gas message in hybrids.  Some would even ignore the out-of-gas warning and continue on with just electricity until the vehicle came to a stop.  That is obviously a problem when you are trying to guarantee battery longevity.  Having unstated buffer would help alleviate some of that.


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