Prius Personal Log  #1160

August 13, 2022  -  August 20, 2022

Last Updated:  Mon. 9/19/2022

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Recall Exaggeration, history.  The constructive exchange advanced onward.  That progress resulted in: "True, just a blip.  But it's my $7,500 blip.  Fortunately, it's not an actual loss if I don't move forward with my order.  I have nothing against Toyota and will likely get another one.  But not going to sugar-coat this: this is has been a very poor launch of Toyota's first mainstream EV."  This is where we learn from the past.  Ask questions, like: How did other launches play out?  I remember 5 years and 2 generations of "failure" related to Prius.  They were supposedly so many things wrong with the hybrid, it was a doomed technology.  Toyota couldn't possibly survive with such a poor launch.  Ugh.  Ironically, one of the loudest voices in that was GM... who made that very mistake with Volt, believing their own short-sightedness.  Again, ugh.  Knowing all that was history my commenter was oblivious to, I chose to keep my reply simple with:  That takes us back to the setting of realistic expectations.  There was a 100% chance of your scenario happening to someone.  Even though they had an order placed, the vehicle still wouldn't have been delivered in time.  Demand is far outpacing supply.  Making matters of launch assessment even more difficult is audience.  Enthusiasts find balance unacceptable.  Regardless of how pleased owners are with their purchase, those with more horsepower and greater range will do everything they can to belittle & shame.  Study Prius history for confirmation of this pattern.  bZ4X would have been labeled as "poor" no matter what the situation and a different talking-point would have emerged.  Enthusiasts use Toyota as an antithesis.


Recall Exaggeration, perspective.  Some people have no perspective: "Call it what you want, but whether it's overstating or understating the problem, either way it's still a huge debacle for Toyota."  I read through the report filed.  The final statement in the document with incident detail concluded with: "Toyota continued to investigate and conducted a driving test using mass production wheels and hub bolts that were tightened to specification.  The testing showed that the hub bolts loosened under certain severe driving patterns."  Being able to confirm and recreate is not only acknowledgement, it is active engagement.  There was no denial or downplay.  Responsibility has been accepted and a solution is forthcoming.  That is exactly how trust is earned.  Reliability comes from consumer confidence, not word play.  Labeling it the "wheel fell off recall" as he wanted only serves to feed propaganda.  Ugh.  I replied to that nonsense with:  I suggest stepping back to look at the bigger picture. We've see profoundly bigger recalls with battery-powered vehicles. GM had battery problems with both Volt and Bolt. Nissan did with Leaf too. Neither was intentional. They involved far more vehicles and a much greater amount of time; yet, they were resolved. From VW, we got an actual scandal, one that altered the market permanently. This is trivial in comparison... an issue taken seriously from initial production and caught shortly after first deliveries pales in comparison.


Recall Exaggeration, annoyed.  Quite annoyed by his previous reply, I didn't wait.  More needed to be said right away:  Dismissing real-world data as anecdotal is a fatal logic flaw.  Toyota has been quietly delivering plug-in systems with to-the-floor electric acceleration, full-speed electric driving, electric heating, and recently liquid cooling.  That has worked great, providing Toyota with lots of real-world experience prior to delivering their first dedicated-platform vehicle.  It is exactly what you should do with such complicated engineering... address every possible operational aspect of electric-only propulsion prior to the first true "BEV" delivery.  Don't dismiss the CH-R or UX300e conversions either.  They also served to provide Toyota with experience ahead of the bZ debut.


Recall Exaggeration, anecdotes.  He responded back with the attitude I dread, clueless.  That absence of knowledge is a very real problem... as I have documented in these blogs extensively.  Anywho, I got this: "That's kind of a "what-aboutism".  It's unrelated.  Was the Prius an BEV?  Was it a joint design with Subaru?  We're not talking about the Prius, this is about the bZ4x.  That's a totally fallacious way of thinking.  Personal anecdotes also don't mean anything."  Then it went on to include: "The wheels LITERALLY FALL OFF."  This was posted on a RAV4 group, where there was a rather bad superiority complex when it first rolled out.  Prius Prime was regarded as completely unrelated.  Obviously, some still subscribe to that narrative.  Predictably, I fired back with my own attitude:  That " unrelated" claim reveals a misunderstanding of what Toyota actually delivered, clear evidence of effective rhetoric.  Prius Prime is an EV with a gas-engine clutched in as a backup power source.  Electric-Only driving has been available from that generation of Toyota plug-in since late 2016.  No gas commutes are quite realistic.  The design worked so well, it spawned a sibling called RAV4 Prime... of which, my friend who purchased my old PHV ended up also purchasing.  It is essentially a BEV in operation, complete with heat-pump.  As for your "The wheels LITERALLY FALL OFF." statement, that's rubbish.  It never happened.  Loose hub-bolts were detected.  That's all.


Recall Exaggeration, other issue.  I wondered where this discussion would take me: "If Toyota can't even get hub bolts right - what makes you think there are no other issues?"  So, I responded back to the comment with:  My wife and I have been driving Prius Primes for over 5 years now, completely issue free.  A friend bought my 10 year old Prius PHV and it still works perfectly.  Prior to that, I owned several Prius hybrids, all were fine.  The switch from stud & nut to hub-bolt is completely unrelated to the EV drive.


Haste.  Delay to Q4 should have been an obvious outlook for bZ4X activity to resume.  That surprises many.  Somehow, they think a remedy will be found & applied much faster.  How could that be achieved?  There's simply too much to do and speed could potentially make the situation worse.  What is there to lose by taking the time to ensure all the boxes are checked?  If you miss something by proceeding too quickly, then what?  Personally, I see no possible gain by saving a few weeks.  Delay is fine.  Of course, that's based on my experience.  After 3 decades as a software engineer, I'm well aware of the consequences.  Convincing someone else of the risk... like explaining a longer schedule to management... is extremely difficult.  That means trying the same online with a person who feels they are about to lose their $7,500 tax-credit opportunity is basically futile.  I tried anyway, taking it from the perspective of when the recall was first announced:  Setting of realistic expectations is key.  Anyone who thought a resolution would come faster than 60 days (from the official stop) clearly didn't map out the steps required to apply whatever adjustment/replacement that would be needed.  Heck, even 90 days is pushing it with worldwide scope and parts/labor issues.  None of that takes into account the act of finding or testing either.  Sorry, but these things take time.  As a software engineer, I'm well aware of schedule and the inability to rush.  Keep in mind how haste backfired for GM with Bolt.


Same Old Propaganda.  How many times have we seen someone draw a conclusion about all hybrids based on the assumption that they don't differ?  I recently dealt with that problem and it happened yet again.  Ugh.  Oh well.  At least I learned the scope tends to be within the confines of an echo-chamber.  The nonsense doesn't seem to reach beyond that particular audience, thankfully.  Anywho, I waited until comments settled down, then posted the following:  This video does not address the type of PHEV that prevents the gas-engine from ever starting. Both plug-in hybrids from Toyota will remain in electric-only even when you drop the pedal to the floor.  No gas is used in EV mode.  Both offer EV speed up to 84 mph.  Both use electric heat-pumps for cabin warming.  They are designed to operate like a BEV until the battery-pack is depleted.  In other words, not all PHEV operate the same way, as this video implies.


IRA Signed.  The compromise to get the nearly $400 Billion in funding for the Inflation Reduction Act was in the form of making BEV sales complicated, immediately.  If production & sourcing isn't domestic, you're out of luck.  No phase in period.  That line drawn in the sand took place today.  Unless you already have a committed sale (5% non-refundable with VIN assigned and delivery taken before December 31 this year) the opportunity for a tax-credit is zero.  That means I got screwed along with countless others.  That absence of any transition was basically sabotage, making the situation look appealing but having the opposite affect.  It's really unfortunate for many plug-in buyers, but there's a lot of good for infrastructure.  We need it.  This is the biggest effort to address Climate Change in our history.  So, it's long overdue and the compromise is well worth it.


Ill Intent?  Arbitrary dismissal of a situation isn't exactly constructive.  It needed to be said.  Though quite unlikely, I finally added a comment in response to someone else asking the relevant question.  It is unfortunate, but we shouldn't be naive as to overlook the remote possibility of sabotage.  With so much hate for Toyota for having found a way to make plug-in hybrids both appealing & profitable, it makes sense that an entity struggling with change did something to undermine Toyota's progress.  Seeing success with the bZ platform too is the last thing naysayers want.  Think about how much experience Toyota already has with motor & battery technology.


Shaming Reviews.  It needs to happen more often, especially with those who try to be constructive.  The click-bait kind just plain don't care.  But those others that actually make an effort sometimes miss a vital aspect of EV ownership.  Such a mistake is easier than you think.  When there's a plug, you naturally treat the vehicle different... but shouldn't.  In this case, the oversight was reality to efficiency.  That aspect of performance was pretty entirely disregarded.  Only a brief comment is hardly a review.  Seeing that, I was quite annoyed.  This was a source where you could reliably go to for efficiency comparison information.  In fact, it is looked upon as a go-to for that type of data.  But for some reason, that is only important for ICE vehicles.  If it doesn't use gas, that idea of efficiency is lost... even though there are BEV that guzzle electricity.  I posted the following to draw attention, and a little shame for the omission, to the topic:  bZ4X was noted has having the best observed efficiency; yet, the mi/kWh itself was never mentioned.  Instead, the video focused on range... which makes no sense whatsoever knowing that VW's production of ID.4 for the United States in the United States uses a 62 kWh battery.  That will be smaller than the 71.4 kWh battery in bZ4X FWD and 72.8 kWh in bZ4X AWD.  Again, real-world results for efficiency were excluded.  Think about how competitive traditional vehicles became with regard to MPG.  Seeing EV efficiency information missing is really disappointing... especially from a source usually highly regarded for thorough reviews.


Reaching Ordinary Consumers.  There is quite a loss of perspective.  Enthusiasts get so entrenched in particular issues, they forget or dismiss the rest of what is at play.  It's a mistake they make again and again.  Here's a great example: "Umm, hub bolts coming loose under heavy braking is a lot more than "didn't amount to much"."  Obviously, I had much to say about that:  The market is still just introducing vehicles, teaching consumers what EV has to offer.  Here in the United States, where SUVs dominate, we only have an initial presence from: Ford, Hyundai, Kia, VW.  Notice how GM is missing?  There's nothing from Honda or Nissan yet either.  Rollout plans are underway.  That's all the further we are.  It's still just the early years, prior to DC fast-chargers being anything beyond a rarity.  Heck, we don't even have a high-speed standard plug.  Expectations for what high-speed really represents remains unclear too.  There is far more at play than just the switch from stud & nut to hub-bolt.  Don't lose perspective.  Notice how basics... like efficiency... are completed overlooked still?  Until you see mi/kWh ratings becoming a focus, we haven't yet reached the interest of ordinary consumers.  Think about how much MPG came into play for traditional vehicles.


Trusted Brand.  I always find it remarkable how most enthusiasts don't have a clue how things came about and don't bother to find out.  They just focus on outcome, not even bothering to postulate how that outcome was achieved.  Ugh.  Such was the case this morning, this was posted on a random video for bZ4X addressing the recall: "Toyota having a lot of quality control issues and recalls on failures.  Used to be a trusted brand, not so much now."  The person just drew a conclusion.  There was nothing else.  That was the entire comment.  Ugh.  Oh well.  Posts like that provide an invitation for me to reply, which engagements the poster far more so than just a stand-alone comment:  Think about how Toyota became a trusted brand.  It wasn't through advertisement or media promotion, it was owner endorsement.  People witnessed ownership, getting countless opportunities to see the usage.  No brief commercial or written article can compare to those continuous real-world encounters.  Think about how many of the current owners taking the $5,000 offering for the inconvenience will become advocates for the technology they chose to trust.  Like most recalls, they will become mentions of trivia, commentary about how the introduction had a rough start.  Think about how the wheels have literally nothing whatsoever to do with the EV propulsion system.  Note how many reviews already praised that technology for being so well refined already, for Toyota having leveraged their experience from plug-in hybrids.  This will become a footnote in history about the importance of customer satisfaction, how to treat a buyer when something goes wrong... not about the actual issue itself.


Online Madness.  You gotta like when the article's writer interject a comment like this within the comment section: "That's nuts.  So a Toyota with 30 year old "self-charging" hybrid without so much as a plug gets the same incentive as a Chevy Bolt?  That is madness."  That was an outright lie.  There never has been any incentive for hybrids under this tax-credit.  The credits we get now began January 1, 2009 and were exclusively for vehicles with a plug.  Also, Toyota's hybrid system was introduced 25 years ago.  But I know how much this particular writer uses click-bait in his articles.  He is an antagonist, one who profits from controversy.  Spreading misinformation is a means of doing that; a problem that cannot be ignored.  People assume he is well informed and honest.  Ugh.  This is how I replied to that online madness:  No, that exaggeration is nuts.  Toyota starting a plug-in vehicle with capacity higher than 7kWh back in 2016.  That system delivers all-electric driving (to the floor EV acceleration, cruising EV speed up to 84 mph, and a heat-pump) resulting in a no-gas drive just like a BEV.  Fact is, you get a significant return from plugging in.  Selling that system to promote production of it is the point... which is exactly what the tax-credit achieved.


Long Waits.  It is nice to see something with a constructive outlook: "Got any ideas/suggestions on how to speed up the process?"  It only happens from time to time.  Most online are well aware of the long waits and have found some means of dealing with the agony.  This is far from uncommon.  All the automakers are struggling with delivery.  Both parts & labor shortages make it an unpleasant outlook.  Just like when the computer industry took a hit, the recovery was years in the making.  They make plans to overcome the challenges, then follow through.  That requires patience.  There is no way to accelerate the process.  Knowing all of next year will be a struggle is painful.  Absence of supply drives up demand.  In other words, the situation will get worse before it gets better.  Economists call it a "whip-lash" effect... which means to those not involved or paying attention, recovery will appear abrupt and will be very difficult to miss.  Sadly, all we can do at this stage is offer a shoulder to cry on.  So, I did:  Everyone has long waits.  I figured 6 months was a minimum, just like my delivery waits for a new-model hybrid years ago.  5 months in for me, no worries.  This is a familiar journey.


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