Personal Log  #832

September 14, 2017  -  September 22, 2017

Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017

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Progress.  It's odd to see some still fighting.  The world is moving on, overcoming the strange barrier GM erected with Volt... then shifted over to Bolt.  What exactly were they trying to accomplish?  We see a whole lot of nothing.  The technology worked, but their heart didn't seem to be in it.  Who was it for?  Both plug-in offerings had a very high price and were not targeted at their own loyal customers.  Yet, that was always labeled as progress.  GM was pushing more than any other automaker.  So, even though that didn't actually accomplish much in terms of actual change, it was given recognition as leadership.  None of those enthusiasts bother to consider that bad leaders are possible.  Heading off quickly seems impressive, but in the wrong direction...  Anyway, I'm still a bit irked about so much time & resources having been so poorly used.  It's no hopeless though.  Progress often includes waste.  You try something.  It doesn't work.  You try something else.  Success of Prime isn't what Volt enthusiasts want to hear about.  They hold that particular configuration with too much importance.  Rather than focus on diversification of the technology to other platforms, it's the compact hatchback or nothing.  That's why when Camry hybrid or RAV4 hybrid are brought up as next candidates for getting a plug, they go silent.  Needless to say, I couldn't be silent about the situation.  So, hopefully this was at least somewhat tactful:  Toyota will have increased the population of plug-in vehicle owners this year by 50,000.  Rolling out the world's first affordable plug-in hybrid, to several different markets, all at the same time is undeniable progress...  especially considering how vital it is to not be dependent on tax-credits.  When will GM roll out something similar on that scale?


Less Complex.  Being less complex than traditional vehicles has been the selling point for battery vehicles.  Cooling the battery with liquid is not a step in that direction.  This is why advanced chemistry for cooling with air is a step forward... as well as a cost reduction.  Volt enthusiasts absolutely hate hearing this, since GM didn't try that.  GM stuck with the overkill approach... which is a carry over from gen-1 design.  The hope was drastic cuts for gen-2.  In fact, there were some who celebrated that apparent victory far too early.  It's a wise move when trying to deliver a robust product that will deliver extremes.  But that's not what customers actually want to pay for.  There's a balance.  That's why those buyers are part of the mainstream.  You want more, you pay more.  That's what the specialty market is all about.  More complex is fine for that audience.  Ordinary people are not in that category.  They benefit from less complex by not having to pay a premium.  Long story short, Nissan & Toyota are well aware of this... hence their efforts to deliver a battery chemistry able to deal with heat better.  Higher tolerance that can be cooled with air is far less expensive and less complex.  So, with the Honda getting into the game, I was quite curious.  Rather than a dedicated liquid cooling system like GM uses, their new Clarity will share coolant with both the engine & battery.  One radiator instead of 2 reduces components.  Less piping and only 1 pump is less complex.  I'm quite curious how the Volt enthusiasts will accept this new approach.


Efficiency Credits.  If they ever do get renewed by the federal government or new ones comes about from some states, it sure would be nice if actual efficiency were taken into account.  That importance aspect of measure is currently ignored entirely.  All that the big tax-credit focuses on is battery-capacity.  It doesn't matter how much electricity the vehicle guzzles, as long as it has a larger size than others.  Such a crude perspective of worth made more sense way back in 2008 when the legislation was first drafted.  But all these years later, we know understand the importance of using electricity responsibly and should award accordingly.  Simply switching from wasteful gas vehicles to wasteful electrics is not enough of a step forward.  This is why EV operation with a vapor-injected heat-pump should earn more credit than one with just an old-school resistance heater.  One uses far less energy than the other to operate.


Voice of Reality.  This isn't likely to be greeted with enthusiasm: "If GM keeps building small cars for the US market they are going to be in trouble.  We are all screaming for a real SUV/CUV based EREV with AWD, but that falls on deaf ears."  Too many of the Volt enthusiasts were fiercely against anything that would upset the precedent they set in terms of faster & further.  That status quo is painfully deafening now.  So much was built up to prevent change, they have backed themselves into a terrible corner.  This is why so many simply gave up on Volt and directed loyalty toward Bolt instead.  It's bizarre to have so much silence now.  Unfortunately, that is why the voice of reality gets so much grief.  The possibility of getting called out as hypocritical damages their fragile sense of pride.  Ugh.  Again, the goal is to replace traditional vehicles.  Since GM primarily sells SUV/CUV choices, it makes no sense pushing a compact hatchback like Volt.  They tried for 7 years.  It didn't work.  Let it go.  Move on to the next.  The fact that enthusiasts still don't agree is mind-boggling.  They scream, but then go back to Volt support the very next post.  There's no substance.  It's just empty talk.  Without any effort to help promote something supportive of a SUV/CUV offering, how do they expect interest to grow?  Remember all the hype they managed for Volt while it was being developed?


Cold Soak.  It's interesting to throw a term out there to see if any newbies bite?  That's the kind of trolling with intent to educate.  What a concept!  Trying to help people by stimulating the learning process.  In this case, it was: "What is maximum cold soak?  I only ask because I rarely ever use the timer.  What's the advantage of it?"  That came about with a random reply on a thread about recharging.  I set the hook:  That's when you allow the battery-pack to rest as long as possible before the recharge begins.  It's for longevity.  Toyota conveniently gives you the scheduling feature to make that easy.  I have mine set on weekdays for charging to complete by 7 AM in the morning and 4 PM in the afternoon.  That makes the process basically brainless.  You just plug in and let the car figure out when to start charging and pre-conditioning.  To override the schedule, just click the "Charge Now" button when powering down.  It's a simple way to get the most out of your investment.  Coming out to a car that's warmed or cooled for your departure is rewarding in itself.  Knowing it's also taking steps to extend the life of the battery-pack is a great bonus.  For those of you who decide to take advantage of time-of-use discounts from your electricity provider, it requires setting the schedule anyway.  So, why not?


Change.  It's dramatic from my perspective.  Agreement from antagonists is amazing.  Their change is as if it happened overnight.  Too bad it actually dragged on for years and years.  They'd fight diversification.  Asking the "Who?" question all those times eventually got the message through.  Volt clearly wasn't designed to appeal to GM's own loyal customers.  It was never going to reach mainstream sales levels as a result.  That's why conquest was always the focus.  They understood the problem, yet refused to acknowledge it.  Now, they see how those suggestions for spreading the technology to vehicles like Malibu & Equinox really weren't efforts to undermine or dilute.  They really were in the best interest of growth.  All that wasn't a twisted way of promoting Toyota.  I really was trying to promote plugging in after all.  Of course, I'll never get any type of apology.  But that's ok.  Their steps for change in the right direction is all I wanted anyway.  That stupid trophy-mentality had terrible consequences.  After 10 years of suffering, no need to drag it on any more.  Let's move forward.  It will be odd though, knowing Volt will be left behind in the process.  But then again, they do now recognize it as a niche.  That change is progress.  It's not like all the tech will be lost.  Reconfiguring it for mass appeal is quite realistic.


Denial.  I didn't even need to respond.  He said it well.  This was yet another former poster who had countered me on a regular basis.  The turn is so nice.  True, writing was on then wall for a very long time.  They've known Volt was in trouble.  I reminded him and several of the others directly, pointing out the gen-2 year-2 situation.  There's nothing else to deny.  Reasons he provided should have an impact:  Are we still in denial about this topic?  1) We are no longer the largest growing economy.  2) We are a debtor nation.  3) There is no consistent "Pro EV" federal policy to encourage investment.  4) Americans (many) are more interested in trucks and willing to take on 8 year loans.  5) High cost US workforce still working through quality control issues.


Reasons.  It's getting much easier to see how attitudes differ now.  What an ugly past.  It's unfortunate we have that mess to deal with still, but acknowledging the problem is progress.  This indeed fits: "What troubles me in reading this article is why this innovation isn't being done in this country.  What circumstance, or group of circumstances, makes GM look to China for its future, as opposed to the USA. Is it the EPA, the dealer network, the unions, what?"  I actually got a compliment from a recent foe with this post:  Welcome to the world of those who raised concern years ago for listing out the very reasons you now seek.  The advice is to not dwell on the problem sources... since you'll get nothing but negative votes.  Focus on providing strong solutions instead... something all audiences will embrace.  In this case, we really really need GM to announce intent to deliver a Voltec based Equinox or Trax.  Offering a SUV with a plug-in option is what will shift the paradigm without upsetting the market.


Behind.  How many times have I had to endure the claim of Toyota being behind?  The best response was always to push for an explanation of what they thought was still needed.  Pretty much every single time, the reply was with respect to EV range.  All the enthusiast cared about was battery capacity.  Sadly, nothing else mattered... until now.  Reality is setting... finally.  I'd then point out the benefits of electrification.  So much of what gets put into hybrid & fuel-cell vehicles can be reused by a plug-in, you'd think it would be an obvious that those investments were good ones.  Instead, they were mocked, belittled, and scorned.  So, seeing this emerge from plans GM just revealed has been quite vindicating: "By 2025, nearly all of GM's brands sold in China – Buick, Cadillac, and Chevrolet – will have an electrified option."  Several years ago, Toyota set a similar goal in the United States... but for 2020... which puts them ahead, way ahead.  Hopefully, this news will help end the antagonist posting.  Focus on mainstream electrification, rather than faster & further, is long overdue.


Advanced.  It's quite bizarre how some people think having a liquid-cooling system for the battery-pack is advanced design.  Requiring a more aggressive heat dissipation system is more expensive, more complex, and more weight.  Dealing with that much more makes no sense.  Yet, we hear the argument that it is happens all the time.  Who are those pushers trying to convince?  It seems a step in the wrong direction.  The idea of plug-in simplicity is negated by requirements like this.  Thankfully, both Nissan & Toyota continued with lithium chemistry development to avoid the need.  This is a reason why they have potential for winning over their traditional buyers.  That's the type of advancement we require... not some EV supporters telling people that without, they'll suffer terrible consequences with their battery-pack.


Work Trip.  Jumping into an airplane to travel halfway across the country for training isn't a normal experience for me.  Work trips simply haven't been necessary.  I try my best to achieve all that's needed remotely.  In this case though, it couldn't be avoided.  The visit for some in-person interaction would be greatly beneficial.  So, that's what I'm doing.  All things considered, that is the most efficient means of travel.  It's certainly faster; though, I do enjoy road trips with the Prius.  I'll be away from home for almost a week... no car, no cats, no wife.  Fortunately, the online world isn't any further away.  It's as if nothing changed in that regard.  In fact, I will keep my eyes roaming with the hope of noticing something here on the East Coast that I wouldn't usually encounter in the Midwest.


Chargers.  It's not all bad.  There are new opportunities to advance discussions beyond the old rhetoric: "My wife actually mentioned "what if we get a Bolt when my car needs replacing" while we were talking about putting a 240V circuit into the garage for L2 charging."  I took full advantage of this particular opportunity, knowing that a number of the original Volt owners either just stuck with their factory 120-volt charger or invested in a low-power 240-volt.  Neither is enough for Bolt... and they know it.  But rather than argue to justify the obsolete position, they are receptive.  The reason is simple.  The shoe is on the other foot.  Irony can be cruel.  I don't succumb to it though; instead, I use the change to stir excitement about what's available.  In this case, it was with:  We just installed 2 JuiceBox chargers with Wi-Fi, each on their own dedicated 40-amp line with individual sub-meters and NEMA 14-50 outlets.  That provides extremely convenient usage tracking and time-of-use discounting, as well as capacity for the future.  That was the ideal setup... especially with the $1,000 rebate from our electric provider. 3.6 kW charging for the Primes now. 7.2 kWh potential continuous from both chargers simultaneously.


Acceptance.  It's not happening for some.  This was what a Bolt owner posted about the gen-2 Leaf: "Besides the very different driving experience, much longer range, better acceleration, faster charge rate, liquid cooling, CCS charging instead of Chademo. all the check marks at a modestly higher price."  I was dumbfounded... and not about to put up with it:  $6,630 is modest?  MSRP starts the shopping process.  Too high, the customer simply moves on.  Reasonably competitive, they take a closer look.  The catch is, mainstream interest will focus on creature-comforts & conveniences, not technical design or performance aspects.  That shift from enthusiast to mainstream will be painful for some.  Accepting the purchase-priority difference won't be easy.  But that's what this stage of rollout is all about.


LEV III.  Most people have absolutely no clue what emission ratings are.  Of the people advocating green technology for vehicles, few of them understand the categories of "clean" are setup to follow a progress improvement schedule.  Every decade or so, the bar is raised, making criteria more stringent for the next stage.  We are now approaching the level-3 stage.  California establishes the standard.  Other states agree to accept & follow.  CT, MA, MD, ME, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA, and DE are those joining in for this round of air-quality improvement.  All you need to do is remember there are people like me who bother to read up on detail of the provisions ratified.  This is how cheaters, like diesel, get caught.  Remember my blogs entries complaining about the suspicious behavior of diesel supporters?  Things just didn't add up.  How could such a supposedly dramatic level of clean be delivered at so little cost or tradeoff?  There's always some type of compromise required.  No penalty of any sort made no sense.  Study of what is measured and how was what brought about the questioning.  We understood the challenges of cleansing emissions and preventing them in the first place.


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