Prius Personal Log  #1153

July 2, 2022  -  July 8, 2022

Last Updated:  Mon. 9/19/2022

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North Carolina, nonsense.  It continues.  We're shocked by absurdity.  This article summary states the situation well: "House Bill 1049 decrees that all customer receipts will have to show what share of the bill went toward the charger out in the lot.  That way, anyone who showed up for dinner in an F-150 (not the electric one) can get mad that their jalapeño poppers helped pay for a business expense not directly related to them.  It's the same way you demand to know how much Applebee's spends to keep the lights on in its parking lot overnight, when you're not there."  This is the type of backlash we have been expecting.  As the weak arguments from those trying to retain the status quo fail to the degree there is no rebuttal remaining anymore, they turn to undermining.  It simply makes no sense... hence my assessment of nonsense... to fight change in such a manor.  It is so desperate, there is no way to win.  It is basically an effort to go down fighting... to save face.  Ugh.


Both Worlds.  We hear the "worst of both worlds" talking-point from antagonists all the time.  Rarely do we hear it from an actual plug-in hybrid owner.  That was the case today: "I believe that Toyota's Prime offerings are probably legit (since they tend to outperform EPA mileage ratings anyway in real world driving conditions). But the Hyundai PHEV system felt *very* much like "worst of both worlds" while a good PHEV would be more "best of both worlds."  That was refreshing to read.  Objectivity is usually a challenge.  Either comments are subjective or just so vague they are meaningless.  This conveyed the message without detail, since it came from an actual owner.  That doesn't always work though.  Some use their firsthand experience to mislead.  I am well aware of Hyundai's first-gen shortcomings though.  Here's how I replied to that:  Prius Prime delivered 84 mph EV driving and a heat-pump.  So even though power was low and acceleration was slow, it was all-electric driving.  Owners, like myself, experience no-gas commutes.  Errand running is often entirely electric too.  So when all PHEV get dumped into a single category by BEV purists, it's easy to see the problem with their lack of critical thinking.  They are not being constructive.  Heck, when you have an all-electric PHEV like that, it contributes heavily to level-2 installs.  That is a win no matter what type of plug-in you drive.


Ford's Limit.  Turns out, Toyota isn't the only legacy automaker rapidly approaching the 200,000 limit for tax-credits.  Ford is too.  Only thing is, the way Ford is being treated is quite a bit different than Toyota.  Makes you wonder why.  Could it be that most of the reviews for bZ4X stated high praise for the build & drive aspect of production.  For Toyota to have delivered such a well refined SUV right from the start, it wrecks the narrative of American automakers leading the way.  Toyota is supposed to be desperately behind and have squandered their tax-credit opportunities.  Acknowledging that GM did exactly that and that Ford basically sharing the same timeline as Toyota would be treason.  You can't have honesty like that.  Waving the flag is far more important than the actual outcome.  Ugh.  Reality is, as of the end of June the count for Ford was supposedly at 182,567 plug-in vehicles sold.  With the popularity of F-150 Lightning and the new PHEV being rolled out, reaching that threshold in the next 3 months seems likely.  That should make the situation very interesting, especially with mid-term elections coming up.  Of course, some of us remember the GOP stunt pulled long ago.  There was an announcement about credits prior to the election, but detail wasn't revealed until after... which were disappointing.  It was hype claiming suckers.  They like to play games with us... a familiar problem... over promise, under deliver.  Who knows what will happen this time.  Ford has a big gamble underway.  They need to get volume up and prices down.  Offering a plug for their premiere vehicle puts the spotlight squarely on their next move.  Everyone is watching.


Not The Same.  We're back to the same old problem of all choices being treated as if they are the same.  This time, it is how PHEV are treated.  With such a huge operation range, the differences should not be so easily dismissed.  Some don't deliver enough power for acceleration.  Some don't offer any type of electric heating.  Some have resistance-heater others have heat-pumps.  Some have short ranges.  Some deliver enough to cover a full daily of ordinary driving.  It's remarkable how much history repeats.  These are new participants, but you'd think they would benefit from the past... you know, find out what their predecessors learned to avoid the same mistakes.  Turns out, they don't.  That's why I was so fascinated by the Volt enthusiasts.  They did know about the past, but refused to accept it.  That denial made for quite a number of incredibly short-sighted decisions.  This is how I'm dealing with that now:  Notice how all types of PHEV are dumped into a single category?  That's the same problem as in the past, when the original misleading report was first published.  No criteria whatsoever is a red flag.  Think about the uproar there would be if a Leaf and Model Y were dumped into a single category, treating both exactly the same way simply because they are both BEV.


Tax-Credit Reform.  Some people just plain don't get it: "Let's have all 3 big American carmakers (GM, Ford, and Tesla) without any tax-credits and just let foreign car companies get subsidies. That seems smart.  FFS, reform the tax-credits already."  When playing the victim-card doesn't work, switch to sarcasm.  Ugh.  All some enthusiasts ever cared about was getting tax-credits.  How they were used and if they accomplished anything didn't matter.  The point was to subsidize sales of anything with a plug.  That mindset was harmful.  When would you ever spend money without having a budget or purpose.  Spending for the sake of blind support is bad, very bad.  That's why I found the "reform" comment so inviting.  There was no suggestion of how, no detail whatsoever.  It was just an empty complaint.  Ugh.  I was all too happy to interject some common-sense to the discussion, some actual numbers:  That's setting the bar extremely low and not recognizing what's important.  Each only get 200,000 anyway.  We need that many from each automaker every sales quarter.  You want reform, instead focus on benefit for all... infrastructure.  It's ironic how you complain about PHEV, yet fail to recognize why they are so appealing.  Absence of charging at home and while traveling is far bigger of a problem than automaker production. BEV are crippled by lack of places to plug in.  Think about why the standard range F-150 Lightning is just 230 miles.  Ford sees that as enough for owners who have a high-amp AC charging readily available.


Recall Repurchase.  One of the bZ4X groups I participate on has elevated me to "expert" already.  My awareness of the market and technical detail stood out enough to draw attention of the admin.  So, I have been doing what I can to contribute.  It certainly will be interesting when I finally do take delivery.  This situation is very much playing out the same as way back in 2000.  In fact, I'm pleasantly delighted by how much that history is repeating.  It's very exciting.  Anywho, the topic of how the recall will play out is on people's minds.  In the state of California, the clock is ticking.  Their lemon-law qualification is simply when a vehicle is out-of-service for more than 30 days.  That was surprising to learn.  Here, I believe the vehicle must require 3 repairs within the first year.  Whatever the case, it is all about how the automaker handles it.  Remember how Lexus started?  This is what I had to say about this topic at this time... btw, keep in mind how people will twist the situation later, spinning what actually happened, which is why I document events as they are playing out:  Only 258 were delivered nationwide and the expectation set from the beginning was deliveries would start mid-June, so exposure is tiny.  Anyone who for some reason is unsatisfied with the fix and compensation for the inconvenience should feel free to request repurchase.  The nice part about bZ4X is it appeals to a wide audience and these initial sales were without test-drive opportunity or owner-experiences shared.  We will inevitably encounter dissatisfied owners.  We saw the same thing many times with hybrids.  It happens.  How they are treated by Toyota is what matters.  Customers treated well will return.  Going to BEV complicates the purchase decision.  Most have no experience with charging more than just daily distance (around 40 miles) at home.  The new owner guesses at what will work for them.  Not having level-2 that's fast enough (or trying to live with level-1 only) can be a wake-up call.  There are post-purchase decisions for some.  Those of us here who have been plugging in for many years already (like myself) will do our best to help out... but we need our vehicles first.  I'm hoping for an AWD model prior to the cold season arriving... here in Minnesota, where we routinely see the extreme low temperatures some are concerned about.


Asking Questions.  Our group of friends from the band who gather up at the lake each year got together today.  We had a good time.  There was lots of food and play on the water.  It ended with a chat out by the vehicles as people were packing up.  What my wife and I were leaving it got more attention than usual.  I wasn't expecting that.  After all, they have seen both of our Prius Prime for the past 5 years.  There's nothing about them is new; however, times are changing.  Where the band rehearses now has a bunch of level-2 chargers.  The price of gas is at record highs too.  When I mentioned the plan to replace my PHEV with a BEV, that really got their attention.  There were many questions about what to expect.  They know I'm extremely well informed, so they were genuinely curious about what I had to say.  Unfortunately, I didn't have much to share.  They already know our Primes work just fine, even in the dead of winter.  New information simply isn't available yet.  I have to wait for delivery... just like everyone else.  Fortunately, there have been some objective reviews providing a basis for me to set expectations.  Putting that in terms of what a typical consumer will understand is the effort I will undertake.  The outcome will be a fresh user-guide.  The nonsense enthusiasts focus on is basically worthless.  They obsess with their own priorities and fail to address what the masses actually care about.  Ugh.  Fortunately, I have friends like this who will help me translate essentials to a form useful for them.  It starts with asking questions.  I really appreciate that.


Tax-Credit Distraction.  An interesting outcome of the recall timing is it happened prior to quarter-end... an obvious and quite predictable newsworthy time.  There was a 100% chance of tax-credit phaseout being triggered.  July through September would inevitably become the first stage of phaseout.  That's the sales-period where that full $7,500 was still available, but the quantity switched to unlimited.  With Toyota having 2 battery suppliers, being able to capitalize on the opportunity was obviously part of the plan.  Intriguingly, the recall really shouldn't have any impact on production.  The result of all of this could be a boom in sales for the quarter.  That could continue on into the following quarter too, where the tax-credit is reduced to $3,750 but people scramble to take delivery prior to year-end.  In other words, this all sets the stage for looking forward.  The recall itself will just become another one of this antagonist talking-points.  Remember what happened with Prius, the water seal for the hood?  Most people don't even know about it and those who do likely have no recollection of which generation it was.  The same is very likely the case with the headlights too.  Stuff happens.  It's all about how the automaker deals with it, especially if it involves the propulsion system.  In this case, the recall is unrelated.  So, reputation of the EV drive remain untarnished.  It will be about being treated well as a customer... hence interest shifting to tax-credit availability.  Potential customers are looking forward.


This Stage.  We are only now emerging out of the early-adopter stage.  This next one infuriates enthusiasts.  They want mass appeal & acceptance, not having to face the actual situation of very few DC fast-chargers and their reputation for being unreliable.  It's quite unfortunate to hear that both supply & worker shortages are taking a toll on infrastructure.  Issues normally easy to deal with are getting tangled up in schedule challenges due to labor & part shortcomings.  That makes promotion of BEVs, which have the same challenges, even more difficult to address.  That's why statements like this really anger enthusiasts: "The cold, hard reality is enthusiasts don't want to acknowledge how early of a stage the market still is."  In fact, they get so upset by my observations that some are becoming antagonists.  In other words, if you aren't saying something positive you are labeled at someone promoting the consumption of fossil-fuels.  Ugh.  When constructive discussion is no longer possible, you know you are in a stage that will be very difficult to overcome.  Bummer is, there's not much that can be done about it.  For now, it is a teaching moment to point out what is really happening:  Using Toyota as a scapegoat falls on deaf ears.  Who are you trying to convince?  The battery advancements needed have been a struggle.  That's science, not politics.  We also had legal hurdles, like the 20-year patent for LFP which expired 2 months ago.  Then there's the problem of automakers focusing on the most expensive, high profit vehicles.  Remember how Prius started at just $20k when it was first rolled out?  Toyota focused on middle-market customers, not enthusiasts.  Toyota supposed anti-EV campaigning has been an effort to focus on solutions for the masses.  They know all too well that "wholesale EV adoption" won't work with existing cost & supply barriers, but a PHEV with all-electric drive & heating can overcome that while the technology matures.  Ordinary consumers see a 40-mile EV range as very compelling.  Enthusiasts see it as a threat to EV purity... hence their effort to spin Toyota's approach.

7-02-2022 Substanceless Replies.  I got this: "Not only is DC fast charging anything but fast, it also cannot deal with low temperatures or repeated DC charging."  It was followed by a "vast experience" comment, claiming Toyota squandered the opportunity.  Ugh.  Here's what I had to say about that:

Sadly, absence of critical-thought is common.  Heck, it only takes a few minutes of research to see what Toyota stated about charging speed and low temperatures matches what others experience.  The difference is Toyota is upfront with that information, telling their shoppers rather than letting buyers discover it the hard way.

The best example is with LFP.  It behaves exactly as Toyota described... coincidence?  DC charging slows when temperatures drop below freezing and basically isn't possible (prior to warming the battery) when dealing with -20°C (-4°F) or colder.  It's not rocket-science; yet, people here act as if that's impossible to figure out.

As for the repeated DC charging, same thing.  Others experience that too and it isn't difficult to figure out.  The catch is, only Toyota has the sensibility to point out what happens with back-to-back sessions while others avoid the topic.  DC charging will slow, depending upon how quickly the pack can cool itself.  It's not the end of the world.

What I find most interesting is how Toyota keeps stating longevity expectations well beyond other automakers, something they learned from their vast experience.  Notice how everyone else remains silent about that?  In other words, Toyota has carried over their EV system knowledge from PHEV to BEV... which derails the narrative of being behind.  In fact, it does the opposite by reinforcing the notion that the tax-credits were not wasted after all.

7-02-2022 Inevitable Attack.  Nonsense involving use of tax-credits got into full swing right away.  It was the same old rhetoric.  Only thing new is the narrative of anti-EV doesn't sway many anymore.  It's extremely difficult to claim such a well refined EV system right out the gate was not the result of major investment.  They try with the battery, but that is bizarre since it has nothing to do with the EV system.  As the dual supplier approach has already shown us, the EV system delivers flexibility... a trait we did not see from GM... but would have been great for Bolt.  Anywho, this is how I deal with the inevitable attack:

Purpose of the tax-credit was for each automaker to establish their own plug-in technology.  That is exactly what Toyota has already achieved.  Evolution of Prius PHV to Prius Prime to RAV4 Prime to bZ4X not only fulfilled that, it also built customer base seeking upgrades.  Those current PHEV owners see a very easy step forward toward adding a BEV for their household. Supposed shortcomings of the past are gone.  Toyota's system is liquid cooled. Heck, they even created their own coolant that is fire retardant.  And DC fast-charging for their platform using the Panasonic cell is pretty much a match to VW.  So, what was wasted?

We already see both larger and smaller BEV on the way, taking advantage of the EV system already well proven through Toyota's PHEV.  That all-electric drive, complete with heat-pump and liquid-cooling, has worked just fine over the years.  In fact, results have been exemplary... so much so, there's nothing negative for the media to exploit for drawing readers.  It simply works... exactly what a loyal Toyota customer wants.  Quite unlike the conquest sales we have seen other automakers pursue.

Remember the purpose of those tax-credits.  They were to help the automaker transform its own business, not to one-up other automakers.  That's why range, speed and power are a balance favoring Toyota's own customer preference, who's priorities are quite different than the focus of enthusiasts common in online posts.

The cold, hard reality is enthusiasts don't want to acknowledge how early of a stage the market still is.  In fact, the supposed "party" that Toyota is late for was really just a tailgate party.  That actual game hasn't even started yet.  Players are only now taking position.


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