Prius Personal Log  #1155

July 11, 2022  -  July 18, 2022

Last Updated:  Mon. 9/19/2022

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Blazer EV.  It was revealed by GM today... who has been having an advertisement blitz lately for Bolt.  This is obviously marketing hype.  Sales won't begin until next summer, which will start with the first model, the "2LT" for $47,595 with an expected 293-mile range and the "RS" model for $51,995 with 320-mile range.  Late next year, the "SS" will be rolled out for $65,995 at 290 miles.  The catcher is the "1LT" model staring at $44,995 in the first quarter of 2024.  It's expected range of 247 miles puts enthusiasts in an awkward position.  That falls into their "pathetic" distance range.  Their effort to move goal-posts appears to be backfiring already.  All those years of endorsing anything delivering over 200 miles of range are a problem now, especially with DC fast-chargers rolling out across well traveled corridors.  If those popular highways start delivering reliable charging options, pushing for 300-mile range BEV makes no sense.  It only goes to feed the anti-EV narrative of expensive plug-in vehicles.  $45K for a base sends a bad message.  Toyota's bZ4X starts at $42K but we already know that isn't the mass-market focus.  bZ3 will be that, which will be smaller and more affordable.  Larger as a high-volume seller is a problem.  Blazer is bigger than both bZ4X and RAV4.  GM needs to deliver a plug-in Equinox and a smaller BEV.  When will that finally happen?


Tipping Point.  Supposedly, it is 5% of new sales.  Huh?  In that past, that meant we had exceeded the 50% mark... hence tip.  Think of a balance.  When you only have 5% on one size, it is not going to tip in that direction.  However, you can see the potential.  That is what the latest report really should have drawn attention to.  Unfortunately, there wasn't anything about progress moving beyond early-adopters or having proven the technology robust & competitive.  Fortunately, there was mention of the commitment to a wide variety of choices.  There's a catch though... as we see with most green efforts.  Detail is basically absent.  Backlash against Toyota for offering a practical choice makes that obvious.  We see smaller capacity vehicles available in Europe already.  Those entry-level models are more efficient and more affordable.  Why is that such a problem for Americans to accept?  At some point, some other automaker will follow Toyota's lead.  Gasp!  Leadership from Toyota... what a concept.  My guess is it will be VW, since ID.3 isn't offered here.  It's pretty darn easy to see an ID.4 will less battery as a substitute.  After all, we have been hearing $30K talk from GM.  My guess is that Equinox will be a reduced range offering, which would avoid competition from within... both from the BEV vehicle and the traditional model of Equinox.  Remember, we're dealing with potential for the Osborne effect.  If that happens, this "tipping point" would be a flag for upcoming disaster.  Change too fast is a very big problem.  Only Toyota is well positioned to sell plug-in vehicle during a battery shortage.  They can build 4 plug-in hybrids with the same number of cells as just 1 battery-electric vehicle.  In other words, we have reached a milestone but really don't know what comes next.


Failed Argument.  Faster is not always what it seems: "I just used two different 150kw stations traveling this week, they peaked at 50-55kw that get delivered."  In other words, pushing for stations that deliver 350 kW rates doesn't necessarily mean what gets delivered will be any faster.  Simply installing a station with greater potential is not a solution.  Some people don't understand that.  Shouldn't that be obvious?  When water supply is limited and all you get is a gentle flow from the hose, switching to a larger hose won't change the speed at all.  Why isn't the actual problem being recognized?  Station locations must have an ample supply of electricity.  Many don't.  In fact, that's why we only see a limited number of level-2 chargers in some places.  Adding more requires new wires to increase the supply; otherwise, the existing ones could slow down when all are in use at the same time.  Ugh.  I shouldn't have to explain that to enthusiasts.  Ordinary consumers wouldn't recognize the problem, but those online who are supposedly experts most definitely should... as I pointed out this way:  So the real problem is not getting the advertised speed.  If it says 150 kW and your vehicle is rated for that, peak value should be close to 150.  Notice how the government requirements clearly state that, 4 stations with 600 kW total capacity?  It addresses that very issue you had.


119 miles.  We had to jump in the car for an unplanned road trip.  We raced out to see my father-in-law, who had just been admitted to the hospital.  3.2 mi/kWh was the EV average for us with the A/C blasting.  I'm curious as heck what the results will be with the bZ4X.  That area does not have any DC fast-chargers yet, but one station is proposed for the area... if that recent proposal from Minnesota for federal funding gets approved.  We'll find out about that following the September 30 deadline.  It's one of those locations that will benefit from charging, but there's nothing to promote yet.  I only know of one set of level-2 chargers in the area.  That's not enough.  Eventually, the situation will change there.  Up north will too.  It takes time and standards remain a challenge.  What speed will meet expectations?  With that sampling of efficiency today, I would have arrived with roughly 80 miles of range available.  bZ4X won't likely be as efficient though.  Seeing something like 2.8 mi/kWh might be more realistic.  That would have left us with roughly 55 miles.  That is obviously fine if you have a place to recharge at the destination or nearby.  Using 120-volt outlets to recharge takes forever.  240-volt (level-2) works fine overnight.  Setting an expectation of 35 minutes for a fast-charge to 80% is within grasp... within the next few years.  Even faster is compelling, but clearly not necessary.  Remember, charging is non-linear.  When you start from a lower state-of-charge, the rate is faster.  That means stopping for a 15-minute charge can be quite helpful.  How long does it take for you to use the restroom and purchase a snack?


Toyota Crown.  It was revealed today.  That sedan I have referenced from time to time available in Japan will be returning to the United States.  It hasn't been offered here for over 50 years.  Avalon being phased out made room for this large vehicle... a sedan/crossover blend.  It will be offered in two hybrid variants, a regular delivering 38 MPG and a performance delivering 28 MPG.  The option to choose is intriguing.  It reveals a lot about Toyota's plans going forward.  With hybrid options expanding, it becomes very easy to see the phaseout of traditional models accelerating.  It's difficult to argue Toyota is kicking & screaming.  They are moving their entire fleet forward.  It's not a forced effort like VW.  It's not a hype effort like GM.  It's a subtle step forward... without resistance.  Notice how effortless it was to rollout both Sienna & Venza as hybrids only?  That went so went, antagonists have nothing to say.  That progress is undeniable.  Think about how difficult it is to convince naysayers to embrace change.  Toyota has.  Their success to sway those not looking for change is impressive.  Crown falls right in line with that approach.  You get a platform that will easily support a plug in the future.  It is more evidence of Toyota setting the stage for mass-adoption in the not-so-distance future.  With 7 models under the bZ nameplate and 8 more as EV convert, all by 2025, how can anyone argue intention?  This newest hybrid will get the attention of those not paying attention.


More DCFC.  Yeah!  GM just announced they were investing with Pilot to rollout EVgo DC fast-chargers at 500 Pilot and Flying J locations.  Those are the gas/diesel stations directly off highways, at exits along commonly traveled highways.  We routinely stop at them on the way out to Wyoming.  In fact, those trips have so many we have a punch-card there for purchases.  There's on location just 20 miles from where I live.  And yes, it was identified as a being scheduled for early 2023 installs.  Sweet!  That will work out really well for promoting the technology.  That proposal from the state of Minnesota using federal funding is expected to put another DCFC location about 10 miles from me and just minutes from the Toyota dealer.  Things are getting interesting.  Naturally, there are issues about speed & cost.  This is a start though... far more than anything we ever got from Tesla owners.  With the SuperCharger network still proprietary here, it's holding adoption from non-enthusiasts back.  Look at Europe for the opposite perspective.  Tesla was forced to adopt the standard there.  Now, we see the convenience of cooperation.  The conflicting standard here remains a barrier.  Ironically, I saw this comment posted recently: "GM is GM's worst enemy."  Could this indicate a change for the better?  I wouldn't hesitate to use a GM branded "Ultium" fast-charger with my bZ4X.


No Longer Exists.  Every now and then, it's best to look up someone's posting history.  This seemed rather odd to me: "...I was concerned about poor BEV driving range and the lack of charging infrastructure.  That situation no longer exists for many most BEVs."  Her prior posts were heavily political and she believes the DCFC connection used by Tesla will become the national standard, despite that fight already have been lost in Europe.  I was annoyed.  So, I replied with:  Losing touch with reality, eh?  The presence of DC fast-chargers here (United States) is so poor we have large areas that are pretty much impossible to travel conveniently.  And that's just with the count of BEV being only a small percentage of new vehicle sales.  As both sales and overall count grow, the pain of charging will become undeniable.  Claiming "no longer exists" is absurd.  There's also the inconvenient truth of those living in condos, townhouses, and apartments who struggle to get level-2 charging.  Hurdles with associations and absence of electricity in parking lots are still a big problem.  Again, claiming "no longer exists" is absurd.  This is why PHEV with all-electric drive will remain a viable choice for years to come.  They compliment & promote BEV purchases.  So what if they are just a bridge.  That bridge is a very looooong one we still need to cross.


Claiming Obsolete.  We got it with hybrids.  Now we are getting it with plug-in hybrids.  Purists cannot stand bridge technology, even if it promotes & accelerates their end game.  Basically, they don't like taking small steps.  They believe one large step is best.  History proves otherwise.  This is the very reason Volt fell apart.  Enthusiasts didn't know how to promote a product that was a bridge but gave the impression of being a final solution.  That's why they projected that very sentiment upon Prius.  It's why no variant ever emerged.  Purity was required... but didn't make sense with a hybrid.  They were always in conflict.  It was a mess with lasting consequences.  That's why some just want to get away from all that.  For example: "PHEV and EREV are technologies of the past.  The energy density and price of batteries are now on a level that a battery only solution is more cost effective."  Success of RAV4 Prime, based upon technology well proven by Prius Prime, demonstrates a great deal of potential... far from a technology being dead.  Strong sales for Corolla Cross (4,646 purchased in June) reinforce that.  Watch what happens when the hybrid model rolls out this fall.  Anywho, this is how I responded to that claim:  That's a talking-point that falls on deaf ears, as is your: "we will see a growing DC charging infrastructure".  Until people actually encounter them on a regular basis, it makes no difference.  In the meantime, we have PHEV staying competitive with BEV in terms efficiency.  Prius Prime has always been under $30k and delivers impressive mi/kWh results.  With mine, I have been seeing between 4.5 and 5.0 lately.  When I replace that PHEV with a BEV, my expectation is a drop to between 3.0 and 3.5 mi/kWh.  Since the Prius Prime is almost always driven with electricity, that supposedly technology of the past is still quite relevant.  Too bad if you don't like a legacy automaker like Toyota leveraging their expertise to reach customers who see DC fast-charging as sparse or non-existent still.  They are encouraging both the establishment of overnight charging and stirring the desire for opportunity charging.  That's beneficial to a BEV purchase, which tends to be what follows the PHEV purchase... since it brings about the post-purchase decision to upgrade to level-2.  Being able to start at level-1 is key.  Of course, if you are truly trying to talk "cost effective" choices, we are still waiting for Tesla... the supposedly industry leader... to finally deliver something affordable for the masses.  Realistically, we will see VW, Toyota, Hyundai/Kia, BYD, and maybe even GM filling in that void first.  Meanwhile, we continue to watch infrastructure expand at a snail's pace.


Not The Same, Again.  The critique I posted a week ago resulted in another article being posted: "All PHEVs Are Not Created Equal".  With a title like that, I was delighted.  Unfortunately, the content was almost entirely focused on Volt.  There was a mention of Chrysler Pacifica and Jeep Wrangler, but nothing about Toyota offerings.  That was both annoying & strange.  Why not?  I found out why: "I'd use old GM terminology and call them extended range EVs (EREVs). The Volt and the i3 REx are great examples of this."  It is truly remarkable how many Volt owners, which she was, had no clue how their own vehicle was actually designed.  That is wrong.  BMW's i3 did indeed have a tiny gas-engine that operated entirely as a generation.  There was no mechanical connection for propulsion... something quiet untrue for Volt.  GM delivered a plug-in hybrid, taking full advantage of parallel operation for greater hybrid-mode efficiency.  That's not a bad thing, but from those falsely promoting Volt as a EREV, they were in deep denial.  Ugh.  Needless to say, this is why the understanding problem persists to this day.  Here's how I ended up addressing today's nonsense:  RAV4 Prime wasn't mentioned, which is a rather interesting omission since 2,544 were purchased last month.  It's a popular PHEV with to-the-floor EV acceleration, unlike some other plug-in hybrids where the ICE frequently starts.  It also comes standard with a heat-pump for better efficiency than a resistance-heater.  Some plug-in hybrids don't even offer cabin warning that uses electricity; some depend entirely upon the ICE for that.  Having the ability to recharge at your destination means even small battery-capacity PHEV can deliver all-electric driving.  My routine is to plug in at work.  So even with just a 25-mile range from Prius Prime, commutes end up entirely electric.  Errand running in the evening does too.  As a result of this design, most driving ends up without the ICE ever starting.


That Narrative.  It's a source of wonder & bewilderment how much some push this narrative: "But what I really hear from Toyota in this article is: "We wasted the last 2 decades on hydrogen, which was a bust.  WE'RE not ready to make electrics.  So please stop the inevitable transition and let catch up!!!"  Seeing that from so many should make you consider source.  Why do they believe Toyota completely ignored the emerging BEV market?  True, many people believe the only means of success is top-down, that the bottom-up approach is impossible... despite Prius having proved that false.  But not stopping to notice the all-electric drive already available is bizarre.  Do they really think the plug is just ruse, that there was no value whatsoever from it going forward?  Who knows.  Sometimes, it takes years to undercover the mindset of those struggle with the status quo.  Remember how it wasn't until long afterward the truth was revealed that some of my most staunch Volt troublemakers didn't actually understand how their own vehicle worked.  Ugh.  Needless to say, the problem will continue.  Here's my latest battle:  What you are hearing is a hydrogen narrative.  It emerged from those who struggled to deliver a profitable PHEV approach.  Toyota not only succeeded at that, they excelled.  Their hybrid design evolved to support a plug with only a minor modification to the propulsion system and add capacity.  The result is an all-electric drive without the necessity of carrying a massive battery-pack, just enough to cover daily driving.  Recognizing limited resources is not rocket-science.  It's basic math.  For example, consider a typical BEV carries 80 kWh of battery, delivering around 275 miles of range.  That's not a good use of lithium when there is so much of a battery-cell shortage.  Why produce only 1 BEV and 3 ICE when you can produce 4 PHEV with the same number of battery-cells?  Toyota already has this plan in place.  Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime have demonstrated the potential.  Other vehicles, like Corolla Cross hybrid show the same strong PHEV potential.  What other automaker is so well positioned?


Moving Forward.  We're seeing the same old nonsense again.  You cannot move forward without addressing the actual problem.  The switch from gas/diesel to electricity offers a great deal of potential.  It only makes a difference if consumption is reduced; otherwise, you are just wasting a new fuel.  That's why the article today about F-150 Lightning got me.  Focus was entirely on range.  How much electricity it consumed was missing entirely.  We are promoting electricity guzzlers.  That's exactly what happened with Volt.  It guzzled compared to Prius PHV and Prius Prime.  Enthusiasts didn't care.  All they deemed important was range.  Ugh.  The way history repeats is remarkable.  Anywho, I called out the renewed rhetoric today with:  A red flag with reviews is when efficiency is highlighted, yet no actual efficiency rate observed is mentioned.  That missing objectivity aspect of a review could just be lack of awareness, where importance of the "mi/kWh" value simply isn't recognized yet.  Whatever the case, it should be pointed out since that is a direct reflection range.  It's how you estimate how much remains as the trip is taking place.  In this case, potential owners would really benefit from that information.  Think about it. Multiple tests can be run... same EV, same trailer, same route, different weights. That actual "mi/kWh" value is far more meaningful than an estimated range.  Put another way, as the EV market moves forward, reviews lacking that depth won't have much of an audience.  Those researching a purchase want useful information.  This is where journalists standout from those just writing articles to fill pages.  Time to raise the bar.


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