Personal Log  #745

May 7, 2016  -  May 14, 2016

Last Updated: Tues. 6/27/2017

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Caught Greenwashing.  This particular individual comes on the big Prius forum to promote Volt.  That purpose is obvious.  He freely admits his loyalty.  The catch is, his messages are posted with the intent to mislead.  I caught him greenwashing today with this: "The Volt hasn't suffered the same range degradation as the Leaf, I think largely because it's liquid cooled as opposed to air cooled that the Leaf uses."  I was pleased to respond to his deception.  My guess is he won't, instead, choosing to just ignore it and hope the attempt is buried by other posts.  I won't forget.  It's easy to look up those quotes later.  That's handy when you want to reveal the greenwashing.  The pattern of attempts without responses upon being caught speaks for itself.  My post was:  That's a misrepresentation of battery-management.  Cooling is only part of the equation.  A factor that's actually more significant is the SOC (state-of-charge) usage limits.  Avoiding recharge levels too high and depletion levels too low really makes a difference.  GM set Volt's at 87% for the high and 22% for the low.  Nissan set Leaf's at 95% for the high and 2% for the low.  That choice to push the battery so much harder has proven to have significant consequence... something you failed to mention. We really need to make an effort to not spread incomplete information like that.  By the way, the choice for Toyota with Prius PHV was to set the high at 85% and the low at 23.1%.


Yeah!  It's so rewarding to come across an ordinary post like this: "I drive 100% in the NORMAL mode now. There was no difference between the first month in ECO, and the second month in Normal. And my car seems to perform better in NORMAL."  It was from new owner trying to figure out what his new Prius has to offer.  I joined into the discussion with:  ECO provides a gain for temperatures on both ends, not in the middle as you have been experiencing.  In the north, during true winter driving (daily highs under freezing), there's a noticeable improvement.  ECO alters the coolant threshold, directly affecting when the engine runs for the sake of providing occupant warming heat.  ECO also has an influence over the A/C system for occupant cooling.  Keep in mind with a new vehicle, there's an efficiency influence caused by break-in.  You're observation of ECO first, then NORMAL, could have had a cancel-out effect.  In other words, anecdotal observations present challenges.  If you want to learn detail about how the hybrid system operates, purchase an aftermarket device.  There's a wealth of information available through the ODB-II port.  You can watch a wide variety of quantitative data using your smart-phone or a dedicated reader.  Simple things like RPM and temperature of the coolant can tell you quite a bit about how Prius achieves such great efficiency while also maintaining an impressive level of emission-reduction.


Change.  If you push, you get labeled as a "troll".  If you accept, you get labeled as a "hypocrite".  It's a lose-lose situation.  No matter what you do, there's no way to win.  The situation can be very frustrating.  I went through that quite a number of times.  What kept me going was the opportunity to witness "lashing out" events, those times when an enthusiast is proven to have made an error, then become desperate to justify their position.  Rather than join the rest of us, we watch excuse after excuse getting posted.  When that eventually fails to get them out of the corner they backed themself into, the messages turn from reasoning to attacks.  They make it personal, posting anything they can think of to draw attention away from them onto you.  That fails after awhile too.  It gets to the point where we have arrived recently with Volt.  The years of personal logs documenting the inevitable downfall have revealed the "that was the plan all along" attitude.  You must choose to accept the obvious misrepresentation or accept the consequences of staring new pointless battles.  The war is over.  Nothing can be gained from further engagement... except... learning from that history to prevent it from happening again, again.  Remember Two-Mode?  They didn't.  It's why I could proclaim the inevitability so long ago.  I simply recognized the pattern.  I look back, reading through my own documentation of what happened in those years long past.  I've been able to recognize true change and distinguish it from false hope through seeing those similarities.  Notice the complete of abandonment of Volt in favor of Bolt?  That's exactly what happened with Two-Mode when Volt was introduced.  A major effort to "out Prius" the competition, at the expense of alienating partners, failed miserably... twice!  That's why there was so much resentment toward me.  I didn't ever need to say "I told you this would happen" for them to act as if I did.  Just my presence alone was a painful reminder.  Change isn't easy.  Hearing about its need can be inspirational for some and painful challenge for others.  The key in both is a persistent effort and a clear understanding of goals.


Family Car.  There's a demographic being overlooked still, those who want a Prius but don't really want a family" car.  That's a lot of people to forget about.  I've tried to point out that omission.  You'd think such a massive exclusive would get noticed.  Turns out, it hasn't been.  There has been an obsession online with Prime's lack of a middle seat in back.  So far, that's been great publicity for Toyota to draw attention to the fact that a new Prius is on the way.  Simply remaining unknown could be a major problem.  Volt suffered miserably from that.  Enthusiasts desperately cried for GM to promote Volt more, to the point of continuously complaining about the lack of advertisements.   They too got obsession... with the wrong thing.  Do we really need the 5th seat?  That's been thought of as a necessity for purchasing, but all the reasoning has been presented as a want.  Having a small spot for squeezing in an extra passenger for short drives is handy.  No doubt there.  Problem is, that distorts the "family" car reach.  It implies only families will buy it.  That stereotype is harmful.  Toyota knows this.  They are well aware that DINKS (dual income, no kids) households, people who are single, and people who are retired have interest in a vehicle like Prius too... but don't want the associated reputation for hauling children.  Think about how stigmatized the minivan became.  Prius was beginning to fall into that same type-casting trap.  It should be easy to see that Prime is an effort to diversify.  So far, that hasn't been the case... or has it?  Offering bucket seating in back rather than the generic bench of a "family" car highlights an obvious difference.  I've struggled a lot with outspoken daily posters having little to no business backgrounds.  That was my minor in college.  Besides the accounting classes, I also took economic & marketing classes.  No my surprise, those was quite enjoyable.  Little did I know back then that the analysis & design studies for my major to become a software developer would be complimented so well.  I learned decades ago that engineering skill alone was no where near enough to achieve success.  Business is more than just important, it's vital.  Know your audience.  Recognize the benefits being different can offer.  Find a way of offering it without compromising the balance.  That's exactly what Toyota is striving for with Prime.


Think About.  It's annoying to read posts starting with this: "So Toyota was myopic and could only see as far as..." then going on to end with this: "That would have really affected sales."  That came from the other big criticism of the upcoming Prius Prime, the 22-mile EV capacity.  Arguments have been that Toyota should have designed a platform able to carry more battery.  There's a strong belief of more being better, that twice as much would result in huge demand.  It's the very same trap GM fell into with Volt.  Fulfilling the daily commute (with complete disregard for any driving other than to & from work) using only electricity is supposedly a necessity.  That means it is acceptable for a great deal to be sacrificed to achieve that supposed requirement.  I think the pressure to deliver more originates from the feeling of being left behind.  It's our polarizing belief that there can only be winners & losers.  Simply running a sustainable business is so boring & unappealing, it's not even considered an option.  That's why enthusiast publications don't pay any attention to ordinary vehicles like Camry & Corolla, even though those are what a lot of people purchase.  Building something for the middle, something that won't stand out isn't given the attention it deserves.  Sadly, there isn't much to do about that other than point out the thinks to consider:  It would be short-sighted to deliver a design unable to be sold profitably without the tax-credit.  I see the effort to share a common platform as attempting to strike a balance to achieve high-volume sustainable sales.  Think about the limited number of tax-credits remaining.  Think about what happens in just a year or two when the plug-in boom hits.  Think about what happens to those dependent upon the subsidy.


Denial.  To my surprise, I got my answer: "You are delusional.  Nobody ever accused Toyota of not supporting lithium."  There were years and years of posts complaining about how Toyota wanted nothing to do with lithium.  The spin was claiming was they were too dangerous for automotive use.  Countless times I pointed back to that original presentation that pointed out the reason for disinterest was production cost, the technology was simply too expensive for the vehicle to be profitable.  It was frustrating how the contents of that presentation were taken out of context and twisted to make it look like Toyota was afraid.  And for him to call me delusional, exclaiming that none of those debates ever too place... Grrr!  Needless to say, I was quite upset.  His behavior is quite typical.  It was clearly an unwillingness to accept change.  He discovered he made a mistake and that was his effort to cover it up.  Saying that never happened is the expected defense.  This is why I like having these personal logs so much.  They document what actually happened.  Denial like this is how history ends up repeating itself.  People convince themselves it simply wasn't possible, that the person pointing it out is incorrect... or in this situation, delusional.  Ugh.


Raising Doubt.  It's a challenge to figure out why particular people continue to prevent progress.  Inattentiveness and the unwillingness to accept is what I see as the most common reason.  Whatever the case, stuff like this is annoying: "I am still trying to figure out how..."  No one else has any trouble understanding, especially after having literally years of the same discussion.  It just repeats over and over.  I got tired of the nonsense.  So, my reply was in the form of questions that ended with some attitude.  Whether he likes the answers or not, that's the way it is:  How many broken promises have we witnessed over the years?  What's wrong with waiting until there's actually something substantial can be delivered?  Notice how all the "Toyota doesn't support lithium" naysayers have suddenly vanished?  There's an obvious desire to keep the discussions going.  I've noticed the pattern of the same question being asked by several individuals over and over again.  Reality is, Toyota has invested heavily in lithium battery production as well as advancing motor & controller efficiency.  They've also introduced an industry-leading heat system.  So what if there isn't an EV right away to utilize that.  Their other offerings will and they'll be well positioned to rollout when the market is ready.  Too bad if you don't like that approach.  It's still an investment in electrification.


Why?  I had a responsive audience and was on the soapbox already.  Time for some more exposition:  Speaking of history, a major issue rarely addressed is WHY it was decided to not expand rollout of Prius PHV beyond the initial 15 states.  Sure, there are some who bring up the topic, but it's always to complain rather than actually be constructive.  They absolutely refuse to acknowledge what the cost was for lithium batteries and how modest the reception was to other plug-in offerings.  Why do more in a market not ready yet?  It made good business sense to just stick with the existing customer base, watching those others attempt to overcome their obstacles before joining in and continuing with their own research & development.  That provides a great basis for learning, to be better off when rollout resumes.  We'll see that next step taken with Prime.  In the meantime, consider the struggle Volt and Leaf are currently facing.  GM's next generation offering has not taken the market by storm.  In fact, it still hasn't even reached the sales rate hoped for years ago.  Nissan faces growing competition and is watching sale of the outdated generation slip.  Toyota's offering will provide a modest EV range, but with competitive EV power.  We think the price will be reasonably competitive too.  The hybrid efficiency will be top-grade.  Seating will be comfortable, for 4.  Cargo will be much greater than any sedan.  Tech options will be compelling.  It's a good mix for this time in this market.  The hope is having studied history and responded accordingly will show favor.  After all, how well are the others doing?


Sobering Facts.  How much is big enough?  The difference between want and need is quite vast when asking that question.  That's what we've been doing.  It was best put with: "As long as we are crying in our beer (or wine or water), here are some sobering facts..."   We were discussing the reality of the entire market.  That big picture can be very disenchanting.  To think of how little got accomplished in terms of count alone.  Sigh.  Thankfully, some of the biggest hurdles are among the first.  It really does get easier as things progress.  We're not there yet, but there is reason for encouragement.  I explained the situation with:  That's why I have confidence in Toyota's approach.  It seems disappointing to take the perceived slower route (by offering just 8.8 kWh), but the reason for that approach in the past has been with the intent to keep cost in check.  How is this time any different?  The wait for battery tech to improve takes generations.  We don't have that kind of time (or patience).  Keeping the pack small is how to reach more customers.  After all, we've seen that business-model be extremely successful in the computer industry with respect to expanding reach of new technology, why not with the automotive industry too?  As the EV owners have stated, you want more once you've experienced it.  That just plain isn't realistic for many budgets.  Some people don't need mega-capacity either.  I've been recharging at work... which provides a simulation of what a 38-mile commute would deliver with the new battery-pack charged only at home.  My average is around 125 MPG.  What new owner wouldn't be thrilled with results like that?  Isn't that what we've been looking forward to since many years ago when the idea of plugging in was limited to just aftermarket upgrades?  Upgrading from the PHV to a Prime, just commute average will climb to around 999 MPG.  On long trips, I'll get a solid 50 MPG.  At a reasonably competitive price, why wouldn't that sell at a decent volume... like half the mainstream minimum to begin with?


What Prevented?  Is it worth the bother answer this, yet again: "What prevented Toyota from doing so with the PiP?"  It came from a well known antagonist.  He's quite open about his provokes too.  That's quite irritating.  It does provide an invitation to post certain things though.  So, I took advantage of the opportunity, one last time:  Ugh.  We've been over this literally dozens of times already...  It simply made no sense spending time & resources on a platform to be replaced by a much improved next generation.  Do you have any idea how much work that is in the first place?  Then, you'd have to spend extra time & resources afterward to re-educate.  We all know how outdated information gets used for greenwashing too.  Intentionally contributing to that makes a challenging effort even harder.  The answer to the question should be obvious: PRIME  What's sad is the answer was provided way back when PHV production ended.  Those who didn't believe that to be the case made up some other reason. Heck, some even shot the messenger.  The catch is, that still doesn't change the answer.  From Toyota's standpoint, they were well into finalizing the design.  There was nothing to gain, but much to risk & waste, by saying anything.  So, they didn't.  Toyota was well aware of what Prime would deliver.  They gathered as much data as possible from the initial limited PHV rollout, just like they did with the Classic model.  They then took what they learned and prepared to capture the hearts (and wallets) of ordinary consumers.  This isn't rocket science.  It's basic accounting, marketing, and economics.  We'll see this Fall how well that preparation was.  In the meantime, if the same questions of why get asked anymore, I'll post a bookmark to this message.  Repeating the same thing over and over is getting old.


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