Personal Log #1158
July 31, 2022 - August 4, 2022
Last Updated: Mon. 9/19/2022
page #1157 page #1159 BOOK INDEX
Conspiracy. The spin is ramping up. We're seeing the rhetoric come together to create a conspiracy. It's interesting to watch those pieces in play, knowing ill intent is the goal. There's no possible way Toyota is trying to deliver a BEV that is comparable of stirring interest of their own loyal customers. That's nonsense. If it doesn't appeal to enthusiasts, why should it appeal to them? Ugh. The recall provides a means of distorting reality, providing material for misleading. But then again, that same delay of deliver also provides time for software updates. Tweaks to DC fast-charging came eventually from VW for ID.4, eventually. Other refinement opportunity comes too. No one wants to talk about that though. It draws too much attention away from Toyota and could potentially make their preferred automaker a target. I see a lot of defensiveness coming from Tesla. Pressure is clearly building from the increased competition. No need to spin any conspiracy at that though; it's just want happens when choice increases. So, I keep my replies simple. Today, it was: This is a switch from stud & nuts to hub-bolts, which has nothing to do with the EV drive. It was an effort to reduce cost & weight in an unrelated aspect of production. Yet, there are attempts to stir conspiracy about rushing to market.
All-Electric Drive. There was a purist who launched an attack on me, quite intent on spinning my "Their all-electric drive was rolled..." statement to mean something else. After several brief & terse replies, I finally spelled out the situation in response to this: "You didn't answer my question. You deflected. You can just admit you were wrong in labeling the Prius prime as all electric." That was the same old purist nonsense I've seen countless times in the past. This was my reply: I have been watching you repeat history. The term "all electric" came about from Volt enthusiasts. They set the precedent way back in late 2010, using it to attack Toyota for not having delivered anything able to provide EV driving. In late 2016, Toyota turned the table by delivering a system that was more efficient at electric-only driving than GM's offering. It had a heat-pump and the mi/kWh was undeniably better. That's how "know your audience" came about. Just like you, recognizing the goal had been achieved, they started to argue semantics instead. That cold, hard reality of the Prime system being an EV drive with a gas-engine added for backup was too bitter to accept. It meant, not only was Toyota in the game, they found a means of bridging the transition profitably. In other words, you can argue to the cows come home. Press me all you want. Claiming "deflect" won't change any of that. The situation is Toyota has already advanced beyond teething problems and is now striving to improve on other fronts, like the cost & weight reduction from switching to hub-bolts. And people say Toyota is unwilling to take risks...
Teething Problems. Attempts to retain the "laggard" label have fallen apart. Toyota is emerging as somehow capable of surviving the crazy. That's especially troubling as Tesla fanboys are seeing a sales decline as legacy automakers ramp up. That competition is not what Tesla is prepared to deal with. That is their "teething problem". There are new things to chew for Tesla that the others have dealt with for decades. Some choose to spin otherwise: "This I'm sure is partly the reason why OEMs are slowly dipping their toes in the BEV waters. They know that there will be teething problems and want to learn their trade with minimal recalls and brand damage. Tesla did this with the low volume roadster and even the S was very low volume initially." I saw that as a great invitation to sound off, especially in the comments section of an article which antagonists were having a field day. I punched back with: No wheel ever fell off. Toyota quality control found 3 early-build vehicles with loose hub-bolts. The switch from stud & nut is a cost & weight choice that isn't perfect process, but it is nice to see that even a seemingly minor change was taken seriously. The find resulted in a voluntary sales halt. No one really knows what kind of abuse reviewers did, but we are all aware of some off-road tests shared in videos. As for the effort to minimize recalls and brand damage, Toyota has exceled at that. Their all-electric drive was rolled out in late 2016 with their EV system in Prius Prime. That to-the-floor only-electricity acceleration, complete with heat-pump, leveraged experience from their original PHV model. That next-gen rollout worked so well, it brought about RAV4 Prime, which introduced liquid-cooling. At the same time, Toyota also rolled out to traditional converts to BEV, a model of Toyota CH-R and Lexus UX300e. All that real-world plug-in knowledge is what they brought to the table for bZ4X, which addressed teething problems well in advance. The switch to hub-bolts isn't earth shattering. It is unfortunate, but then again, those who remember the birth of Lexus will recognize the happenstance for reinforcing a position of standing behind a new product.
When? Absence of perspective makes people say stuff
like this: "Don't buy anything that's been recalled for at least a
couple of years after the initial recall. It's madness that people are still
considering purchasing this vehicle." While there is reason to do
your homework, following a thorough study shouldn't leave you with concern.
What is there to worry about? After all, we see recalls for new
traditional vehicles still. After so many decades of experience, why
are there issues? Once you come to a realization why, it is easier to
see beyond what is immediately playing out. Toyota knows how valuable
reputation is. That's why rushing to market and attempting to please
enthusiasts is a terrible idea. Yet, that's all we hear about online.
That audience sees no wisdom in taking the time to do it right. In
this case, Toyota didn't just settle for studs & lugs. Toyota took the
risk of trying hub-bolts, after extensive testing of the EV system. In
other words, when is a good time? Toyota could have waited until year
2 or 3 for that next step. What the advice have been then? Ugh.
I focused my reply on being responsive and responsible: Have some perspective
on the bigger picture. That's no different than when people say don't
purchase the first model year, despite no basis for that advice. In this
case, we get an EV already well refined. Experience from the all-electric
PHEV drive carries over directly to BEV. The issue here is a switch from
stud to bolt likely due to the quest to reduce cost & weight. That's not
madness. We've seen that from other automakers. Recalls taken seriously with
a voluntary sales halt is not.
DCFC Installs. The proposals were due yesterday. Each state needed to submit a plan for federal funding. Approval notices will come by September 30. For Minnesota, I live near one of the two highway corridors being focused on. There could be 6 high-speed charging-stations installed nearby. Whoa! It will still be yet another thing to wait for, by identifying locations and getting money to help the process along is awesome. I would expect by this time next year at least 2 of the sites would be established. With both supply & worker shortages, it's difficult to predict how it will all play out. But it's now an official plan. Whether this funding fulfills the need or not, the point is to get attention & approvals. The build will somehow follow. Sweet!
Sales Drop. The status of Tesla in Europe is taking a turn in a direction hype didn't anticipate. Enthusiasts blindly praised their expensive & specialized approach have no understanding of or recognition for the importance of audience. It was a recipe for trouble. You cannot just keep selling lots of the same thing for a premium. That works fine initially, while a new product or category emerges, but you must adapt later as it becomes established. Tesla did not. It fact, the outlook continues to get worse. As the current limited selection keeps getting more expensive, there is now word that the upcoming effort to diversify... by offering the pickup known as CyberTruck... will cost quite a bit more than hoped. Even with the simple shape, being able to deliver so much for so little (an expected sticker-price of $39,995) is just a dream now. This is just like how GM set the "nicely under $30,000" expectation for Volt. That failed miserably. Heck, you can see the same problem play out with Equinox BEV too. To deliver something competitive, it must have a balance of traits. I responded to today's disillusion with: This is a textbook example of Innovator's Dilemma. We all witnessed Tesla do a phenomenal job of reaching enthusiasts, delivering inspiration on a fantastic scale... for that niche. Priorities did not align with that of mainstream consumers. Supercharging at awesome speeds, traveling long distances with extreme convenience, and autonomous driving features are nice, but clearly not necessary. In other words, Tesla focused too much on want. The ordinary shopper simply does not have the budget for that. It's overkill. Notice how VW is preparing production of ID.4 in Tennessee? That model made in the United States for United States buyers will be slower with less range. The expectation is it will be a very popular choice, despite enthusiasts claiming those specifications are outdated and counter-productive.
Order Cancel. There are a few impatient owners (very few, since only 280 bZ4X were actually delivered in the United States) speaking out with frustration. You know how it is. Remember that woman who was absolutely furious about her Prius Prime delivery? It was supposed to be the very first. A few others got theirs before her. She was so angry, the online forums & blogs were attacked with outrage. Ugh. After awhile, we never heard from her again. In this case, owners are getting compensated for their inconvenience. So, that front has remained for the most part quiet. Unfortunately, there is a sense of urgency from others... those draw to the purchase of reasons of opportunity. Even though Toyota is clearly not pursuing conquest sales, some are happening despite that. You know, attracting those who see a good deal but have no sense of loyalty whatsoever. As a result, we're getting comments like this: "Well, guess I'll just cancel the one I had on order. This is a monumental screw-up." I can't help but to be amused by that. It's like the person is complete clueless about the industry. Notice how ID.4 had so many software issues rollout got delayed, now owners are still waiting for over-the-air updates to address the few things that got missed despite the delay? How come there is no outrage about that? Simple, VW is not Toyota. When treated as an antithesis, you get a lot of negative attention. Of course, his loss is someone else's gain. In fact, it's a lose-lose for him. Canceling that order means having to start another order wait with some other automaker. Impatience and unrealistic expectations are nothing new. This is what I had to say about that this time: You'll just end up having to wait for delivery of something else. At least with Toyota, you know they will work to get things right. You also know the EV system itself is already highly refined. Note how well the all-electric drive from their PHEV has been and the praise given from bZ4X reviews.
Only Conjecture. What happens when you argue with someone and the basis of her logic is nothing but conjecture? That's worse than hearsay, since she has made some observations but without data. In other words, her neighbor had expressed frustration of needing a battery-pack replacement but had no background whatsoever on the topic. She couldn't tell us about the year, the mileage, or even the vehicle type. It was just an old BEV that died for some reason. How was it used? Had there been several owners? Was it frequently DC fast-charged or driven to depletion routinely? She had absolutely no clue, but was dead set against BEV based on just what she observed. Ugh. Her attitude was quite irate too. When pushed, she pushed back with a generic Google search result. That was a dead giveaway of the situation playing out. She has "no idea" (as others also pointed out) what her neighbor's EV was that supposedly needed a $10,000 battery replacement. After several short exchanges about how things have changed for the better over the years, I got a long one from her that just rambled. Annoyed, I posted: You still don't get it. LFP weren't available back then. They are the new type being used in new cars now. You can't use them as replacements. Old cars require the old type, which is more expensive and doesn't last as long. That's how technology advances. It means someone buying a new car now probably won't ever need to replace the pack, since LFP delivers more than twice the cycles. LFP also costs a lot less because it doesn't use Cobalt or Nickel, so upfront cost is lower too.
Advancing The Fleet. A problem we often encounter is narrow scope. Enthusiasts will focus entirely on a vehicle or technology rollout, ignoring the rest of the fleet as a result. While that may have been tolerable a decade ago, when technology we still be proven with real-world data, that is not the case anymore. We are long past that stage. Now, it should be all about how to spread the technology to the rest of the vehicles that automaker produces. That's the point, right? Asking that question to enthusiasts, you get crickets. They fail to address purpose. Ugh. I remind them on a regular basis. In fact, that was how the Innovator's Dilemma for Volt played out. They absolutely refused to look beyond what was immediately in front of them, never wanting to consider anything else, then their false reality fell apart. Their choice to address only the "EV market" created an inevitable doom. You can't just dismiss aspects of the automaker you don't like. That's why diversity is so important. It is vital for the entire fleet to advance... as I pointed out, yet again, but now with new highlights: Also, don't overlook Toyota's schedule. It's quite realistic to expect another PHEV in the not-too-distant future, as well as a next-gen Prius Prime. Corolla Cross hybrid following the same PHEV approach as RAV4 hybrid makes a lot of sense. Then there's BEV rollout expectations, like both Tacoma and FJ Cruiser in Fall of 2023. There's a lot going on with regard to carrying the entire fleet forward.
New Discussions. I had an interesting exchange with someone this morning, an individual beginning to standout is an active participant and well-informed. It's what happens when new group emerge. You hope for new discussions, but that doesn't always happen. In this instance, that's going well. It took a strange turn though. He interpreted a bZ4X article mention of CATL supplied battery-cells as only temporary. I was perplexed. No where has it ever been noted as short-term, anywhere. After getting a reply with his source, I confirmed that. It was just an assumption. I provided some context to see where this particular discussion would take us: Look at the bigger picture. LFP is becoming a favored choice surprisingly quick, as if overnight. Reality is, the 20-year patent just expired 3 months ago and it is a chemistry offering much more for ordinary consumers than the common NMC or NCA choices we have come to associate with BEV. Offering over twice the number of charging cycles, not using Cobalt or Nickel, and being far more resilient to heat & fire, the tradeoff of lower energy-density is well worth it. You get a less expensive battery that is safer and will last longer. CATL is leading the industry with production of LFP and Toyota is exploring that opportunity. This is why the AWD model of bZ4X, which is expected to be 60% of the sales here, is being supplied by CATL. It makes sense for Toyota to be quiet in the meantime. Diversification is key and the PHEV opportunity from the Panasonic partnership looks very promising.
Not In 2022. Why is something that wasn't a problem in the past a problem now? That doesn't make sense when infrastructure & support are improving. This is stirred my ire: "In 2017, most DC fast charging was 50kW so this wasn't a huge problem. Today, it is." It is the desire from enthusiasts to always pursue more. In their mind, there is no such thing as diminishing returns or an threshold that exceeds mainstream criteria. More is better, period. Today's example of that was with an article about Bolt being the most affordable BEV available, in our market. While true, being sold at a loss isn't exactly a great long-term business plan. It does makes sense for the short-term though. GM needs something offered in the affordable category. After all these years, nothing doesn't inspire confidence. Of course, it doesn't target their own loyal customers. So, this is still a game of conquest rather than change of the status quo. Ugh. Anywho, this is how I addressed the absence of perspective on the many issues GM creates for itself. Sometimes, a goal really is fulfilled. Credit should be given for that: There have been many owners who successfully took road trips. There are many more CCS chargers available now. This is the difference between want and need. Faster is not required. The job is fulfilled with 50 kW charging. Taking less time is nice, but it is clearly not necessary. There is not problem.