Personal Log  #1159

August 5, 2022  -  August 12, 2022

Last Updated:  Mon. 9/19/2022

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Battery Choice.  The one-for-all approach from Tesla was great when the audience was online enthusiasts with lots of disposable income, ones seeking opportunity.  That allowed for both specialization & optimization of design... both for which can be problematic when trying to reach a different audience.  Evidence of that is overwhelming with Tesla's abrupt shift away from their much anticipated and heavily promoted 4680 cells.  They were such a big deal 2 years ago.  That's what was expected to take the market by storm; instead, there was a large & subtle shift to LFP from a supplier.  The much touted vertical integration (in-house built) approach had suddenly lost importance.  It is quickly become a matter of battery choice... a topic enthusiasts are ill prepared to address.  In fact, that is what they had fought against for years.  In their mind, the best choice should be the only choice.  Toyota's effort to strive for balance and offer variety completely messes up their narrative.  That should not be an advantage, in their mind.  Why would you want flexibility when the one-for-all approach worked so well?  Ugh.  That's just like the nightmare called "Volt" where one-size-fits-all was the belief.  That proved a monumental mistake.  It's a failure Toyota goes to great lengths to avoid, even with the knowledge that enthusiasts will spin flexibility as a desperate change-of-mind move.  They don't view adaptation as important.  Again, ugh.  That's why I posted this on the EV blog claiming Toyota's battery approach is doomed:  Toyota's partnership with Panasonic will result in production of cells in the United States, an advanced new chemistry for hybrids and plug-in hybrids prior to solid-state.  In the meantime, Panasonic is supplying cells for bZ4X in most markets and CATL for the AWD variant in North America.  It is a way of spreading risk and exploring opportunity.  Toyota's expectation is that 60% of their North American sales will be AWD and anecdotal similarities to them being LFP continue to surface.  Why not diversify like that?


55 Kilowatts.  It has been close to a year since Tesla began selling Model 3 with LFP cells last.  Not many people were paying attention back then, nor did those that were understand what that truly meant.  It basically took an entire year for that information to make sense.  The alternate battery dropped estimated range to 253 miles, due to the 60 kWh capacity.  So even with the ultra-efficient vehicle & system, there was a very real loss of bragging rights.  Other priorities were demoting the importance of potential travel distance.  LFP was the cause.  The superior safety and superior longevity easily offset the reduction of range. Those cells were from CATL.  It now looks like Model Y will also be getting a LFP choice.  Those cells will come from BYD.  Capacity will only be 55 kWh.  With a larger vehicle and smaller capacity, expect an even shorter range.  For all those who attacked Toyota, this is yet another wake-up call about priorities.  We see that ID.4 production in Tennessee will be 62 kWh.  How come the lower capacity that made Toyota supposedly DOA is acceptable for other automakers?  Antagonists have backed themselves into a corner... and this time, it is especially bad.  It just amazes me how short-sighted argues online can be.  Absence of critical thinking is scary.  It is sometimes rhetoric so brain-dead, you don't know how to respond.  In this case, I simply stuck to facts.  It is pointless arguing and helpful to just slip in some exposition without them recognizing that I'm using them to convey information to lurkers.  In other words, I treat it as a teaching moment.  I posted:  BYD is blade.  CATL is prismatic.  I wouldn't expect much of a difference.  The CATL supplied battery for Toyota is thought to be LFP.  The AWD bZ4X with those cells deliver a 228 mile EPA rating.


Endless Nonsense.  A few days ago, it came in the form of a insulting video.  The guy was clueless, but charismatic.  His language & attitude was that of someone gaining a lot of attention from attacking something.  His attack was on belittling plug-in hybrids, claiming they were basically just a lie to make you feel better.  Your purchase wouldn't deliver a monetary break-even until 6 or 7 years of ownership, since it was impossible to drive a PHEV without the engine starting.  That was the point that got me.  He clearly believed there was no such thing as what Toyota had delivered.  Perhaps he was one who saw Volt as having potential, but believed the EREV propaganda... because he repeatedly push the belief that you had to be very careful with the pedal or the gas-engine would start.  That is false.  It is an outright lie after being told that.  I wasn't about to address him though.  He obviously couldn't care less about facts.  It was yet another one of that attention-grabbing videos... like most enthusiast material.  If there isn't excitement & controversy, what's the point?  Ugh.  After waiting until the comment activity died down, I posted:  The over-the-top distraction videos are interesting commentary on industry status.  BEV models of CH-R and UX300e have been available for awhile now and the EV system in the Prime vehicles (Prius and RAV4) even longer.  They all have delivered flawless all-electric driving, complete with heat-pump.  RAV4 Prime introduced liquid cooling.  bZ4X is their first dedicated platform, hence an opportunity to switch to hub-bolts... since the EV system itself is already well refined... as many reviewers have already pointed out.  Confirmation that Toyota has been improving upon their battery-drive for many years already puts naysayers in a very difficult position, hence attempts to direct focus elsewhere.


Which Problem?  I liked seeing this: "Put Loctite on wheel nuts.  Problem solved."  Ugh.  That is so brain-dead of a reply, it was difficult to take it seriously.  What happens when you go to rotate tires?  What happens if you have a flat?  What happens if they don't re-apply a gluing-agent afterward?  Of course, simply keeping the wheel on isn't the only problem.  When a stud is weakened of a nut cracks, then what?  It would still be a problem even if the wheel is initially held on to the vehicle well.  Think about how long those components are intended to last.  Can you recall any of yours being replaced or even being inspected to confirm status?  It could be a bigger problem than the media has noticed.  But then again, who would you consider at fault?  It's not exciting if there is no one to blame.  Consider how frequently oil gets overfilled.  When adding new stuff after a change, squirting it from a bulk barrel isn't exactly precise.  It's a crude guessing game with consequences that are far from immediately obvious.  In fact, it can take a very long time for damage from too much to become apparent.  How is that any different from excessive torque.  After all, we rarely ever contemplate the affect pothole impacts have.  How does that influence the balance of a wheel or how well it is attached to the vehicles.  So much goes unnoticed.  Thankfully, Toyota noticed the loose hub-bolts right away... prior to any wheel ever falling off.  Makes you wonder years from now how many claims there will be that such an event actually happened.  We hear insinuations of that concealing a conspiracy already.  Ugh.  Hopefully, that won't persist.  Here's how I'm pointing out what should be obvious... but clearly is not:  Which problem?  When a tire shop over-tightens, then what?  Too much torque is common.  Switching to hub-bolts may be an attempt to address that, while also reducing cost & weight.


$7,000 Price Increase.  There hasn't actually been much for non-Toyota news.  It's all about politics & supply right now.  So, not much is really happening.  Preparation for next year's ordering is underway though.  News from Ford in that regard was surprisingly bad.  Each of the models of F-150 Lightning got a $7,000 price increase.  Ouch!  It makes the difficult situation of loooooong delivery waits even harder to endure.  Constraints related to batteries are amplified when the number of cells needed is significant.  Thankfully, there will be LFP options.  But that dream of a $40K plug-in truck has completely faded away.  Tesla reinforcing the image of BEV being only for the premium market was to be broken by Ford.  Seeing a legacy automaker reach ordinary consumers with an ordinary vehicle was key.  Popularity of F-150 made it an icon of change.  Blah!  That hope has fallen apart.  It will be Toyota to the rescue, again.  Too bad GM is so screwy.  Imagine of the EV model of Equinox being affordable and with specifications above the supposed shortcomings of bZ4X.  It's not going to happen.  VW stands a change though, since that audience won't be as critical about the 62 kWh capacity.  ID.4 is a nice size in the highly competitive SUV market.  So what if range & power aren't industry leading?  That's not what mainstream sales are all about.  In fact, that is why Ford had so much potential for an entry-level model of F-150 Lightning.  It will become affordable, eventually.  Delay is difficult.  Voices currently dominating the "EV Market" are too busy playing king-of-the-hill to care though.  Sad.


Beta Testing.  The newest spin is that this was really a beta test, that the vehicle was unfinished but Toyota went ahead with deployment anyway.  It's that theme of rushing, as if Toyota somehow got caught off guard.  Basically, any story to make it look like the "laggard" is still "behind" is what they endorse.  Toyota actually being proactive is impossible.  Toyota taking a risk is impossible.  Toyota embracing change is impossible.  Their denial is remarkable.  Why wouldn't Toyota seek opportunity?  Trying a means of attaching tires that some other automakers have found success in isn't too far fetched, nor is the reality that their could have been a manufacturing or specification mistake.  It happens.  How an automaker faces those consequences is what's important, not failing to deliver a perfect vehicle.  Perfection is something to strive for, but you can't win them all.  Sometimes, there will be a bad result.  It's what the outcome to follow that matters.  How will Toyota make this right?  See how pointless a label like "beta" really doesn't matter?  It's all quite arbitrary.  Antagonists don't care though.  So, I didn't bother with that part.  This is what I posted on the topic:  That's not how real-world problems are addressed... like third-party shop way over-tightening bolts.  That damages studs, risking a break.  Switching to hub-bolts is a means of addressing that.  In other words, Toyota is getting slammed for taking on a problem most other automakers are ignoring.


Conspiracy Attempts.  Ugh, the nonsense continues: "Ah come on, its a makeup story.  The car obviously has other MAJOR issues and wheels falling off is a smoke screen."  With so many who want Toyota to fail, it is no surprise to see that.  They need an antithesis.  Finding out they were wrong is hard enough.  Facing their own denial isn't going to happen.  You'll rarely ever encounter an admission of having been mistaken online... to put it politely.  Those with the desire to watch a major failure will end up disappearing.  Consider how many "Kodak" analogies there have been, comparisons that don't work yet they push the belief anyway.  With such obvious differences, denying reality is pretty easy.  We see it in politics all the time... especially the need to invent a conspiracy.  If Toyota is confirmed to be correct by showing any type of success selling a BEV, what will they say?  Think about how difficult it will be to spin that accomplishment.  Anywho, this is what I had to say:  With all those test drivers by so many reviewers around the world wanting to find out what X-mode had to off, to see Subaru's off-road capabilities contributed to the system, why didn't a single one of them ever mention any sign of trouble or concern?  They all sung praise for how well refined the EV system already was.  After all, they already had a basis of comparison with the all-electric experience RAV4 Prime delivers.


Overtighten Stress.  It can break a nut and stress a stud.  That's one of many reasons to try hub-bolts instead... which is exactly what Toyota did.  That switch has its own set of challenges though.  There is a tradeoff of reduced cost & weight.  It's worth a try and definitely counts as risk.  Addressing problems others deem unimportant is how you get ahead of the competition.  Think about why an issue like overtightening doesn't get attention.  How would you ever trace back the problem to its source and how would you hold that party liable?  Responsibility falls upon the manufacturer, whether they are at fault or not.  That's good reason to pursue a preventative.  After all, reputation is built upon non-issues.  When something works, it becomes comforting.  This is why Toyota's quest for balance works so well.  Avoiding extremes contributes to longevity.  I suspect those who reviewed the early production bZ4X were extremely hard on them.  In a way, they likely did a favor to Toyota by providing accelerated stress... much like overtightening could contribute.  We may never really now.  An small army of engineers are likely reimagining how to deal with the variety stress sources and their influence on the wheels.  I look forward to the solution, even if some aspects of the drama playing out remain a mystery.


Feeding Propaganda.  We got an article a few days ago that spun the buyback offering an option Toyota didn't have a choice about, claiming the recall "isn't going great".  Reality of the situation is sales were stopped just a little over a month ago, which puts it on a schedule.  There is no reason to expect faster.  Time to research & test is reasonable.  Expecting a fix in just 30 days is setting the bar much higher than everyone else.  Think about how long it took GM to deliver a fix and how poorly that went.  The rush to respond meant an incomplete analysis and a failure to fix.  Talk of buyback began after learning just how involved recalls can be.  Toyota taking initiative right away and providing that choice is far more responsive & responsible.  Actions like that are how you build a reputation for standing behind a product.  Anywho, that misleading article was used as a source for another source to publish an article today with this sub-title: "Toyota recalled the bZ4X back in June for loose steering wheel bolts."  The second sentence repeated that error with: "The recall, which Toyota issued not even two months after the bZ4X's release, involves loose hub bolts on the steering wheel that could cause it to detach while driving."  Whether intentional or not, stuff like that is exactly how feeding propaganda takes place.  That is just plain wrong.  No where at any time has "steering" ever been part of this.  In fact, that supposed problem implies there is no recall exposure for the rear wheels, that only the "steering" wheels are involved... the ones in front connected to the steering system.  Though this may seem minor or even trivial, it is exactly how rhetoric builds.  It doesn't take long where something just like this turns into confusing hearsay.  In fact, I was told yesterday that there was now a video of a wheel actually falling off.  How would that be possible if the entire fleet had already been taken out of service without any report of such an incident?  Needless to say, he never responded to my request for a link to the video or a source for such a claim.  It's all propaganda to continue the Toyota narrative.


Nothing Better To Do.  This quote (his entire comment) came from someone trolling a bZ4X review post shared on the big EV group: "Well, it has to be an amazing car when Toyota is trying to buying them back."  He is one of those impatient individuals who couldn't wait for Toyota, so he ordered a ID.4 instead... resulting in uncertainty & frustration from that wait process.  When the post is about a drive review and you get that, ugh.  Some people just plain don't care about being objective or even being on topic.  They have other purposes for participating online.  I deal with each based on circumstances of their post, in this case:  Toyota is not trying to buy them back. That is spin coming from those fearing Toyota's approach... offering a variety of options to keep customers happy and build a reputation for standing behind their product. Stepping back to look at the actual situation, you'll find there were only 280 vehicles delivered. Offering buyback is trivial at such a small quantity. The problem itself only deals with the wheels (switching from studs & nuts to hub-bolts), so it isn't like there was anything related to the EV system that supports the failure spin we are hearing online. In fact, this will just become a point of trivia in the history of BEV rollout as the industry progresses... nothing even remotely comparable to stuff like Leaf rapidgate or Bolt fires or Tesla incompatibility.


Electricity from Coal.  That talking-point comes up a lot.  But in this region of the country, it's an argument that is easy to derail.  For example, I saw a share today with this caption: "Another load of electric car fuel heading to the power plant."  It was a picture with a massive pile of coal.  I was surprised to see that.  The recent popular propaganda focuses on charging-stations.  Those are easy to target, especially since most people have no knowledge of how they actually work.  That's makes it easy to simply say whatever you want about them.  It's the same tactic Volt enthusiasts did with the plug-in Prius, until some of us started publishing videos.  Outright lies that could not be verified went unchallenged.  Truth didn't matter.  That all changed when real-world data became abundant.  I'm looking forward to the same with my own driving.  I will have day to day statistics, showing what really happens when you plug & drive.  In other words, it isn't just the fuel.  It's how you use it.  Remember, even a coal-powered EV is more efficient than an ICE.  In fact, that's why MPGe is used.  That equivalent value is for comparing traditional efficiency to plug-in.  Anywho, this is what I posted as a comment for that share:  That's an interesting memory.  I drove by those mountains of train delivered coal every day for the first part of my career.  15 years ago, the switch to natural gas took place.  Now, I can see solar & wind if I take the back route home.


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