Prius Personal Log  #1157

July 24, 2022  -  July 31, 2022

Last Updated:  Mon. 9/19/2022

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From PHEV to BEV.  This will become an interesting topic: "Out of curiosity, does anyone here have experience with both the RAV4 Prime and the BZ4X?  I own a RAV4 Prime and have had a deposit down for another Prime or BZ4X, whichever comes first, but wanted to see what y’all thought of the two."  For me, it will be a basis of comparison with the EV system itself... not the differences in vehicle or range.  But for an answer to this particular question, I replied:  You'll like the combination of PHEV and BEV.  After 5 years of owning 2 Prime, we'll be replacing mine with a bZ4X (the Limited AWD model).  I suspect my wife will be driving it from time to time, taking advantage of the much greater EV range.  There will be several DC fast-chargers available within the next year or two, so travel anywhere in and around the metro will be no big deal.  Her Prime will cover everything else.


Additional Capacity.  That topic of allocated size got another mention today.  This was the quote on a new video: "To be sure, Toyota is certainly honoring its guarantee by putting additional battery capacity in reserve, allowing the car to retain a consistent driving range even if the battery eventually wears out."  The combination of temperature, speed, and draw controls are all obviously vital contributors to longevity, as is the battery chemistry itself, but the basic concept of simply having a reserve for later is still being overlooked by most.  Think about the role that would play.  Not only would there be a reserve set aside, there is also the added benefit of never depleting as deeply.  If there is an additional 5% not touched, you are putting less stress on the pack.  Of course, a switch to LFP would mess that up, since it requires a full charge from time to time for accurate calibration.  It's easy to imagine Tesla simply allowing the full capacity.  That approach makes sense for those owners.  Toyota owners expect different though.. hence the advice of, know your audience.  You look at the approach for Prius, especially what is shown on the display, that should be clear.  Heck, even with bZ4X itself we see hints of that.  From an enthusiast perspective, the oversimplification of system information is maddening.  They don't like KISS at all.  Keep It Simple, Stupid is a well-proven philosophy though.  That approach works well.  You see roughly the same range estimate throughout the life of the vehicle.  As it ages, you won't be seeing a bar lost like on Leaf.  It will just be the same old boring value displayed for years.  That is what a Toyota customer wants.  Know your audience!


Allocated Size?  Is there really an extra 5% capacity not accounted for?  I have bumped into quotes hinting at that from time to time, like this today: "The battery is a 75kWh unit with a usable capacity of 71.4kWh."  Since there is no industry standard or requirement for reporting capacity, that ambiguity related to total size, allocated size, and usable size continues.  It makes sense that a small reserve is retained for longevity.  In fact, we have speculated about that for a very long time.  In fact, that is how it was thought that Volt curiously retained the same capacity for so long.  After all, so few people pay attention to actual efficiency (that mi/kWh value), it would be very easy for an allocated size to go unnoticed.  You just report total and call it good.  To see hints that Toyota is reporting that as allocated instead would be a move forward toward more informative specifications... something you can include in longevity analysis.  Think about those who DC fast-charge frequently, yet there never seems to be any degradation.  Having a small amount of capacity set aside to compensate for aging is too far fetched of an idea.  We have speculated about it for years, but never had anything to back the hypothesis.  Perhaps we do now.

7-28-2022 Cost To Drive 100 Miles.  On that wide-audience electric vehicles group, I found this intriguing: "Everyone always asks me, "What's the range of your EV?"  But I think that's the wrong question.  The right question is; how much does it cost to drive 100 miles on an ordinary day?  Because that's the real difference.  My answer is $3.20 when I can charge at home..."  It took me quite awhile to figure out how to provide a constructive answer, something that would standout from the countless other replies.  This is what I came up with...

Careful.  Overly-simplistic answers are what the anti-EV seek for their rhetoric.  They will cherry-pick their response to that same question to provide a misleading reply.  It's a very easy trap to step into.

For example, at 14 cents per kilowatt, that same 100 miles will cost $10.07 with the AWD Hummer EV but only $4.62 with the AWD bZ4X Limited.  Here is a list of recognizable names for BEV choices offering AWD with their resulting efficiency and associated cost over the same distance:

$10.07 = 47 MPGe combined = 72 kWh/100mi = 1.39 mi/kWh = AWD GMC Hummer EV
$6.93 = 68 MPGe combined = 49 kWh/100mi = 2.02 mi/kWh = 4WD Ford F-150 Lightning
$6.83 = 69 MPGe combined = 49 kWh/100mi = 2.05 mi/kWh = AWD Rivian RS1
$5.07 = 93 MPGe combined = 36 kWh/100mi = 2.76 mi/kWh = AWD Ford Mach-E
$5.02 = 94 MPGe combined = 36 kWh/100mi = 2.79 mi/kWh = AWD Toyota RAV4 Prime
$4.96 = 95 MPGe combined = 36 kWh/100mi = 2.82 mi/kWh = AWD Audi Q4 e-tron quattro
$4.81 = 98 MPGe combined = 34 kWh/100mi = 2.91 mi/kWh = AWD Hyundai Ioniq 5
$4.67 = 101 MPGe combined = 33 kWh/100mi = 3.00 mi/kWh = AWD VW ID.4
$4.62 = 102 MPGe combined = 33 kWh/100mi = 3.03 mi/kWh = AWD Toyota bZ4X Limited
$4.53 = 104 MPGe combined = 32 kWh/100mi = 3.09 mi/kWh = AWD Toyota bZ4X XLE
$4.49 = 105 MPGe combined = 32 kWh/100mi = 3.12 mi/kWh = AWD Kia EV6
$3.84 = 123 MPGe combined = 28 kWh/100mi = 3.65 mi/kWh = AWD Tesla Model Y LR
$3.60 = 131 MPGe combined = 26 kWh/100mi = 3.89 mi/kWh = AWD Tesla Model 3 LR

In other words, don't dump all BEV into a single category.  Generalizations enable those fighting to retain the status quo.  Instead, pummel them with lots of real-world data.  The experiences you share as a plug-in owner go far further to fight the resistance to change that most people realize.  Knowledge is key.  Sharing it is our strength.

btw, I only pay 8 cents per kilowatt from an off-peak discount (overnight & weekends).  That drops the $4.62 estimate for my bZ4X down to $2.64 for that same 100 miles.

Watching For Clues.  The reply I got to my post about the new credits and VW move to Tennessee was: "Toyota is moving Lexus out of the Georgetown, Kentucky plant back to Japan.  The Lexus line will be retooled and expanded to produce EV's in Georgetown.  Not sure of the timeline but several Toyota employees have mentioned it."  Stuff like that goes largely unnoticed.  Toyota is quite and its moves are subtle.  You really have to pay attention... which means not getting distracted by all the rhetoric noise.  Those antagonists don't pay attention.  They are short-sighted.  They follow the crowd.  That approach is a red flag they chose to ignore... regardless of how many times you point out what they have overlooked.  They simply dismiss what they don't like or don't understand.  That type of behavior never ceases to amaze me.  Anywho, I am truly grateful for the unknown ally out there who provided that tidbit of info.  Things are certainly about to take an interesting turn.


New Credits.  That's the excitement online today.  The doom & gloom from antagonists suddenly faces the reality of new tax credits, a renewal of sorts.  Details are just emerging now.  There will be caps on price & income, but those levels are relatively predictable.  Used purchases new, so that talk has no basis of comparison.  We haven't ever seen that before.  Our past does include discussion of production though... which brought about new doom & gloom, but this time from supporters:  "Ya but now I'm reading "must be assembled in USA" sooo, if that is true, the bZ4X is still screwed!!  If it's true, this doesn't help Toyota one bit".  Paying close attention to detail is key.  Why would Toyota take such a risk with a slower charging battery?  It seems bizarre & counter-intuitive, unless we don't have all the information.  Preparing for local production with a supplier anxious to supply more battery-cells to the United States makes sense.  We know the BEV buses in California use them.  Why not a Toyota passenger vehicle as well?  Partnering with an automaker with a strong presence in the United States, but headquartered outside of the political mess we have here, provides that clarity of mission.  In this case, you don't get as hung up in the obsession for speed & power.  I responded to the concern posted with some perspective of my own:  That short-sighted mindset is not how Toyota works.  Production of their new platform will come to the United States.  Notice how has taken 2 years for VW to bring ID.4 to Tennessee?  That partnership Toyota has already established with CATL for the AWD model of bZ4X in North America is a clue about future intent, plans already in place.  Remember how Toyota stated an expectation of 60% sales for the AWD model here?


62 kWh.  It's coming.  There will be a model of ID.4 with a smaller battery-pack.  That's what will be produced in the United States.  The current larger capacity model will continue to come from VW production in Germany.  What we'll see as a benefit from the one here is no import tariff, no shipping cost, lower price, and higher efficiency.  The tradeoff is reduced range & power.  Potentially, that reduced capacity could result in slower DC fast-charging too.  What I find most interesting is how this move by VW puts those against Toyota in a very difficult position.  Guessing at the range estimate, something just a little more than 200 miles is far below the acceptable limit.  They claimed countless times that Toyota's range of 222 for the most loaded AWD model of bZ4X was intolerable... far too low for any type of success.  They absolutely insisted that wasn't enough at any price.  Supposedly, people need 300 miles, period.  Ugh.


Doing Nothing.  Ugh.  We got this today: "Honda and Toyota are known for their engine reliability.  There both at a clean slate with the transition to EVs.  Even worse seeing as neither is doing anything."  From the perspective of enthusiasts, unless the vehicle is a BEV it doesn't count.  None of the PHEV technology is relevant or reusable in their minds.  For some bizarre reason... motor... battery... inverter... controllers... software... cannot be shared, they believe.  It's almost surreal to be dealing with individuals so poorly informed.  You have to ask yourself if that is an act of denial.  Anywho, this is how I replied to that nonsense:  Both of the Prime vehicles deliver all-electric drive.  They provide the EV experience, no gas.  That reliability is already well established.  Prius Prime has been on roads around the world for 5.5 years now, without any trouble.  Charging under real-world conditions, battery warming in winter, it even has a heat-pump.  That has all worked just fine.


Uncertainty.  The message of "we don't know yet" is becoming the theme.  That's better than people jumping to conclusions or being impatient.  An evaluation time is required.  You can't expect a remedy quickly.  In fact, that was the very problem with Bolt.  People pushed.  GM rushed.  We know that Toyota is never hasty.  Reputation is more important that being prompt.  It's easy enough to compensate the few owners there are with something once evaluation is complete.  What I find interesting is already having a history of recalls to draw upon.  I have witnessed several.  Each had this same feeling of uncertainty.  There's a mix of wait with panic.  That's where "know you audience" comes into play.  I put it this way:  Most of the audience here has never been through this.  I actually have.  It was from with an older generation of Prius.  The issue was with regen-braking.  Re-creating the situation took weeks, despite reports online supposedly identifying the circumstances.  So, the update took even longer.  The situation now has far less data available.  There is no specific event.  There were multiple drivers & locations.  Setting time expectations should reflect those unknowns.  No pattern has been identified yet.  These things take time.  Sometimes, the design is fine and it is the materials are at fault.  It made be neither, just some alteration required in the assembly process.  We just plain don't know yet.


Growing Spin.  Attempts to Toyota as the antithesis are becoming more difficult.  Even with a stop-sale of the rollout, there's no denying intent and certainly no way to frame the situation as behind anymore.  Some keep trying though: "Toyota runs out of EV credits before it even starts selling a bona fide EV in any numbers.  What on Earth is going on?"  Many of those posing such questions were never paying attention.  So, sometimes the question is sincere.  They really don't have a clue.  Others are just trying to portray the situation as Toyota being lost in the emerging market.  After all, if you are an enthusiast, you tend to have no idea what a Toyota customer is looking for anyway.  My comment in reply to that was:  As for Toyota running out of credits, the purpose was fulfilled.  It was to establish a technology, not a vehicle.  The tech from both Primes carried over to bZ4X.  Think about how well the plug-in Prius operated.  An entire decade later, that original PHV build worked so well it evolved 5 years later into Prime... offering to-the-floor EV acceleration, up to 84 mph all-electric drive, and a heat-pump.  That was followed 3 years later by the introduction of liquid-cooling and AWD. Included with that was customer trust.  Proven PHEV liability will result in BEV purchases... hence those tax-credits used effectively.


Love/Hate.  It's a relationship requiring attention & patience.  That's a trait challenging to address for some.  Since context is important when dealing with such complexity, here's the entire comment I got in reply to a previous post: "I love/hate Toyota.  They didn't make plug-in hybrids until lots of people hacked the Prius & added plug-ins.  But I love that they expanded the prime plug-in to so many models.  It's really hard to get Toyota to do something, but once they do, they are all in.  We have a Chevy volt, which only needs gas a couple of times per year.  GM should have expanded it to trucks and suvs; instead, they dropped it.  A plug-in hybrid is a gateway drug to EV's.  Lots of people who wouldn’t bother with BEV would find plug-in hybrids amazing."  That's constructive... no rhetoric, sharing of background, and lesson learned.  To that, I replied with:  It's all about audience.  Toyota targets their own loyal customers, ordinary consumers who don't share interest of enthusiasts.  That's why priority has been placed on long-term outcome, completely disregarding hype & conquest from the early-adopter market.  While other criticize with "laggard" labels and "behind" claims, Toyota just quietly went about their business building & refining technology for EV drive.  It also comes to the stage we're at.  As much as enthusiasts like to point out that BEV are well proven at this point, they don't want to face the harsh reality of battery & charging progress.  There are many, many years to go before we are seeing production-volume for better chemistries (like LFP) and the distribution of DC fast-charging both at practical levels... which is why Toyota's diverse strategy of PHEV and BEV choices will thrive in the meantime.  That variety is necessary, since we are far from a mature point with what's necessary still.  Don't forget about the forces that will be fighting against anything that challenges the status quo.  That type of resistance to change is very difficult to counter when you have an automaker attacking on multiple fronts at the same time.


Toyota Quality.  The reply to my post was one pointing out the impressive quality Toyota has delivered.  I volleyed the conversation right back with:  Yup, the quality from Toyota is impressive.  Notice how all the bZ4X reviews make fun of the name, then move on to praise the drive quality?  Toyota used their PHEV models (Prius Prime & RAV4 Prime) and the BEV converts (CH-R & UX300e) to heavily refine the EV experience long before rolling out their first dedicated-platform offering.  My wife and I have been both driving Prius Prime for over 5 years, each plugging in at work to maximize EV opportunity.  The outcome of such obvious quality is now enduring the loooooong wait for a bZ4X.  Note that Toyota is also exploring opportunity by trying 2 different battery chemistries right away... one from Panasonic (assumed to be NMC) and one from CATL (assumed to be LFP).


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