Personal Log  #894

October 5, 2018  -  October 9, 2018

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/04/2018

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Lexus Potential.  My effort to educate continued:  Clearly, you didn't see the recent Paris reveal of the next-gen RAV4 hybrid.  36,995 sales of the outgoing RAV4 so far this year in the US market have been hybrid.  Think of the potential for both getting customers to abandon traditional engine-only models in favor of the hybrid and how much easier next time around it will be for them to purchase a plug-in model.  In other words, Toyota (and Lexus) are setting the stage for when large capacity battery-pack offerings become realistic.  Face it, they currently are not yet. Between the high-cost & production-limitations, it just plain is not viable for the masses yet.  In a few years, it will be. Remember that luxury buyers tend to replace their vehicles sooner than those of us in the mainstream.  So, the Lexus approach will naturally be different anyway.  Again, think of the potential.  How much would it really take to add a larger battery-pack and one-way clutch to that SUV platform to offer a plug-in hybrid model for both Lexus & Toyota shoppers?  The raised platform makes a good means of introducing an EV model as well.  So what if a few more years must be waited.  We have had GM and VW (both legacy automakers) making "in a few years" announcements for quite awhile now.  At least with Lexus, we see a clear effort already underway to phaseout traditional offerings.


Lexus Approach.  The recent advertisement push from Lexus to electrify its product-line sure has some EV supporters spreading FUD concern.  It's ironic how they perceive that effort to phaseout traditional vehicles as somehow being against a plug-in future.  They don't recognize how short-term market change can have a profound influence on long-term support.  I was intrigued why they felt it was an all-or-none situation.  Turns out, some of that concern stems from not really knowing what Toyota actually offers.  This is especially difficult to recognize from only looking at Lexus, which it turns out many have.  I brought the discussion back to a little be of a constructive nature by providing some obviously absent Toyota detail.  Hopefully, this will discipate some of their Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about Lexus intentions, aa reply to a post where there was an obvious lack of keeping up with upgrades:  That misunderstanding of Toyota's hybrid system is quite common.  Most of it comes from outdated information, a common problem after a technology has been around for over 20 years.  Prius Prime introduced to-the-floor electric-only acceleration by adding a one-way clutch to the existing hybrid system.  This allows the generator-motor to contribute propulsion power.  Combined with the traction-motor and a larger battery-pack, you can acceleration & drive from 0 to 84 mph in EV mode.  In the larger hybrids, like Camry & RAV4, it's easy to see the power potential Toyota's hybrid system has to offer with future plug-in models at little extra cost.  Prius Prime also introduced charge-mode.  This is a feature designed to recharge the battery-pack using the engine.  It sounds counter-productive, since plugging in would clearly be more efficient overall than gas consumption.  But surprisingly, it can still yield useful results.  You can use the electricity later for local travel, a handy feature when on a long-distance trip without any outlet available.  At 70 mph in Fall temperatures (low 40's for me last weekend), I was able to recharge the battery-pack from 0% to 80% EV capacity in a little over 37 minutes.  That's 5 kWh of electricity generated while also delivering 40 MPG during that travel.  In short, most people are not aware of what's possible after 20 years of refinement.


Winter Travel.  A new Prime owner posted a question asking about how to prepare for a cross-country trip through northern states during the cold season.  It seemed odd to ask.  The advice given in reply was just plain bizarre though.  Strange suggestions from those who obviously don't have experience in those conditions shouldn't reply.  They do though.  So, those of us who live in those regions try to deal with the confusion.  This was my contribution:  Here in Minnesota, Winter is simply called Tuesday.  This coming cold season will be my 19th driving a Prius.  It's no big deal.  My suggestion is to make sure you have tire with good tread (all-seasons are fine) and don't drive like it is nice out.  We take trips in Winter.  The most demanding is during the holidays, from the east side of Minnesota through South Dakota to Wyoming.  We encounter snow & ice on the highway.  There's no drama.  Just be alert.  Slow down.  Keep safe distances.  That's all we do.


Renegade Plug-In Hybrid.  We got this announcement today:  "The Renegade plug-in hybrid will be one of 30 different new models worldwide from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to use electric, plug-in, or conventional hybrid drive systems."  That couldn't be much more vague.  There's no specifics... time, quantity, price?  Nonetheless, it is still nice to see an expectation of change being set.  Even if the efforts are only token at first, it does at least set the stage.  Removing barriers is how it starts.  None that diesel is finally gone, there's a "What's next?" type of mood.  People expect change.  That's why each generation of vehicle stirs new interest.  The key is figuring out the right balance.  Too much just scares away the masses.  They simply don't see the worth when there's a lot of difference to accept.  That's why enthuasiasts have such difficulty trying to understand why niche vehicles don't appeal to mainstream shoppers.  That audience isn't drawn the same way.  This is the very reason why there was such a push a decade ago for hybrids to be offered as mainstream vehicles.  So, it makes perfect sense that an ordinary choice like the Jeep Renegade would get targeted to become offered as a plug-in hybrid.  Though, it does make you wonder why GM hasn't done that yet.  My guess is concern about the Osborne effect.  Fortunately, we don't see Fiat Chrysler in the same position.


Leadership Shuffle.  A stir within GM executive staff was inevitable.  Remember what happened just prior to Volt rolling out?  Everyone involved in the prior stage moved on.  It seemed quite bizarre.  When would any project advancing to the most vital phase... rollout... have those who know it best no longer be available.  Reassigning them to other projects before work is complete made no sense.  Of course, we later had out suspicions confirmed that such a shuffle eliminated accountability.  Whatever goals had been stated no longer applied.  Those now in charge were allowed to convey whatever narrative they wanted.  They did too.  It was an advanced move to deal with damage-control efforts.  They knew Volt fell well short of expectations.  Now all these years later, the struggle with Volt has grown worse.  The ultimate goal of solving "range anxiety" issues ended up becoming Bolt, which has issues of its own.  It's all quite a mess as the disasterous loss of tax-credits is about to make the situation an even greater challenge to overcome.  No affordable solution for the masses is available yet.  So, GM leadership is now changing.  I chimed into that discussion with:  Who is the market for Volt?  That was the question asked hundreds of times with the hope of drawing attention to the reality that GM wasn't actually targeting it own loyal customers.  Those shoppers walking around on the showroom floor hoping to replace their old GM vehicle with a new GM vehicle pretty much never encountered a Volt; instead, there was a line-up of SUV choices.  Soon, GM will be adding another, the new Blazer.  It is even has a base price of what Volt had as a goal, but never delivered.  Conquest sales were all that Volt really ever achieved. GM attracted buyers from elsewhere, rather than actually stirring their own status quo.  It happened with both generations, then carried over to Bolt.  This all was made worse by the dependency of the tax-credits. which will soon begin phaseout.  In other words, we need to see GM no longer afraid to address change to get their dealers interested.  The problem is it will trigger the Osborne effect.  A compelling plug-in choice for a SUV will sour the appeal of their guzzlers.  There will be demand without supply.  It's an ugly situation getting worse each year.  So, the announcement of leadership shuffling is no surprise.  That's long overdue.


Renewed Attacks.  That individual who created a new id just for the sake of attacking me had some sense pleasure returned from encounters of the past.  The intent was blatant, quite obvious an effort to obscure & offend.  I never cared.  So now, all this time later, it's payback time.  Each renewed attacked gets a return with research results.  I now have the means of collecting real-world data... which is exactly what I do.  Sharing that is my own sense of pleasure... vindication.  In this case, I'm also helping deal with the obvious efforts to undermine BMW.  It's so sad when a Volt enthusiast chooses to mislead rather than actually compete honestly.  Oh well.  I definitely have the upper-hand now.  In this case, it was responding to this: "Are you a BMW i3 expert? Are you a BMW engineer?? BMW does better than Toyota so your "experience" will never apply!"  That's what came after directly replying to his "50 MPH" claim.  I was more than happy to continue contributing information:  No data.  No detail.  No reason to listen.  From me on the hand, I have lots to share.  Today was another confirm of "Limping in the right lane at less than 50 MPH" claim having no substance.  I set the cruise to 70 MPH, started up Charge-Mode, then watched detail on my aftermarket gauge.  I witnessed a steady of power flow from the gas-engine at 23 kW while it delivered propulsion thrust to the wheels and 7.2 kW (at times higher) of electricity for charging the battery-pack.  Just a little over 37 minutes later, the charging ended with the state-of-charge having reached 80% of the usable EV capacity from the 8.8 kWh pack (that's 5.07 kWh).  What more proof do you need that a gas-engine with 25 kW output is capable of sustaining a cruise on the highway?  My plug-in hybrid did it using just that rate of output while also replenishing the battery-pack at the same time.


Incorrect.  The response to that was the same old spin: "The Prime activates the combustion engine when more power is requested — so clearly the electric motor is *not* powerful enough on its own."  And of course, that was followed by some hype for Volt.  Ugh.  I punched back with:  Incorrect.  That belief is the result of poorly informed writers rushing to deliver a review.  Never trust at face value any article information coming from someone who sat behind the wheel for only a few hours.  Most of what you get is anecdotal observations based on assumption.  In this case, the review assumed "EV-AUTO" mode meant as much EV as possible.  It doesn't.  That actually means you are instructing the system to automatically start the gas-engine to maximize EV by saving it for the less demanding parts of driving.  Owners... those who actually drive a Prime on a regular basis… will tell you not to use that mode if you want to keep the gas-engine from running.  To get pedal-to-the-floor driving with just electricity, you must use "EV" mode.

10-05-2018 Not Easy!  I was quite amused to read the following... and not at all surprised: "Thing is, offering a plug is *not* easy.  Not only does it require a much larger battery - along with a place to fit it without compromising passenger/cargo space - but also a more powerful motor, and well adapted control software.  The Prius Prime falls short on all of these measures..."  It was a reply to my post about sales.  That provided a great opportunity to climb up on the soapbox, an unexpected teachable moment:

Like so many others, the assumption of how power is achieved is quite incorrect.  In fact, that is so wrong, it's easy to understand why countless posts on this website don't recognize what has happened so far or what is to come.

Prius already has enough electric power.  The traction-motor was always under-utilized due to lack of a large enough battery-pack.  The draw simply wasn't available with less capacity.  Combine that with a one-way clutch to add thrust from the generator-motor, you end up with a surprising increase for EV driving.

True, the stack packaging could be better, but that kind of improvement is what mid-cycle updates can deliver.  We know for a fact the initial rollout of Prime focused on delivering a robust pack that offered much more punch for an affordable price... low enough to make it directly competitive with traditional vehicles.  Size simply wasn't a priority for 2017.

As for well-adapted control software, there should be no dispute that was delivered already.  The system is remarkably efficient, seamless, and adaptable.  Don't overlook the fact that CHAdeMO charging is offered in Japan and speed of Charge-Mode is more than double the current L2 rate.

Lastly, don't forget that impressive larger hybrid system in the newest Camry and the upcoming next-gen RAV4.

In other words, it really is easy if you are aware of what it actually takes.


No Outlet Available.  How do you purchase a Tesla Model 3 without having a place to plug it in?  The guy lives in a condo and apparently thought the process to get a charger connected would be simple.  Ugh.  A friend posted online with a request for help.  I responded with the reach out suggesting:  A key component to gaining access to electricity for charging at a public location is making it obvious to everyone that there is a transparent means of billing usage.  If it is clear how that electricity is measured and who will be paying, then you get a blessing to proceed.  The best way to do that is for the user to pay for an in-line meter to be installed.  They start at $39, so hardware cost isn't a big deal.  With it, everyone can easily see how many kWh of electricity has been used by the charger.  Having served on an association-board for several years, I know that you won't make any progress without a solid plan.  You will need to show that you have considered every aspect already, including expected usage and anticipated monthly payments.  btw, I only live a few miles from there if you need any help.

10-05-2018 Surprise?  I found this comment within an article about September sales of interest: "Not surprisingly, the Toyota Prius Prime lands in the four-spot for the month and the second-place position for the year as a whole, with sales on the rise from last month, at 2,213."  So, I started a discussion branch in the comments to directly address it:

Actually, it should be at least somewhat surprising that was achieved despite large areas of the country not ever getting any real inventory.  Rollout basically hasn't started in many regions yet.  Here in Minnesota, some dealers only had a handful available for the entire year.  Thoughts dwell on that holdout possibly being due to a mid-cycle upgrade on the way for 2019.

Toyota tends to quietly advance without much indication of when & how progress will take place.  After all, the Prime/PHV design was a worldwide effort with lots of new tech and the opportunity to be used for other hybrids.  In fact, we'll be seeing a plug-in hybrid of Corolla in China next year.  There are also rumblings of CH-R hybrid getting the plug-in treatment, an easy step since it shares the same platform as Prius.  We also see the great potential the next-gen RAV4 hybrid (just revealed in Paris a few days ago) has for support of a plug.  Don't forget about the upcoming cross-license Subaru will have with Toyota for its AWD plug-in hybrid offering (2019 Crosstrek) either.

In other words, we see Toyota gearing up for a serious push to stir the status quo.  So what if the battery-packs are small.  That's still far more of a reach into the mainstream than any other legacy automaker is making to end the reign of traditional vehicles in the near future.  Delivering profitable high-volume is quite a challenge.  Having an entire product-line of hybrids easily adapted to offer a plug is a major step forward.


Called Out, part 2.  It wasn't over with a single post.  I continued with:  Data from my Prime also helps to show that claim is false.  I have collected some data points using Charge-Mode.  That's the ability to propel the car and recharge the battery-pack at the same time.  During the summer while cruising at 65 mph with the electric A/C running, I witnessed a charge-rate of 6.5 kW.  Two days ago, I charged from 45% to 75% in just 10 minutes.  That's 1.58 kWh of electricity, which calculates to a rate of 9.5 kW.  That short burst of power to the battery while on the highway is quite impressive.  Yesterday with the temperature near freezing, I witnessed the charge-rate at 7.6 kW while driving at 45 mph and 8.1 kW while driving at 65 mph.  It took 37.5 minutes to recharge the battery-pack from 0% to 80% while driving.  Power was never an issue, at any time.  It worked just fine... despite having an engine that Volt enthusiasts constantly claim is under-powered.  Watching the same obvious attempts to mislead & undermine about BMW is unacceptable.  You have been called out.


Called Out, part 1.  I let things settle a bit, then fired by my assault:  Dismiss what you don't like, then personally attack the messenger hoping important facts get forgotten along the way.  That pattern of terrible behavior was same activity here for so many years, people who wanted to be true supporters stopped participating and left.  I was curious how the remaining few voices would respond, hence a brief return from being gone to find out... and got a very clear answer.  You were presented with solid facts, then repeated the same old nonsense.  In this case, it was confirmation that the claim about driving at highway speeds would be under-powered was false.  Detail of engine output was provided as proof.  The small gas-powered backup delivers 25 kW, which is indeed enough power.  To further validate that the effort here was to mislead, this is a quote from an owner who routinely has to deal with attempts to undermine the system from BMW: "I've tested it myself, the i3 REx can cruise at 70-72 mph with A/C (Florida), 3 people, and all the stuff needed for a weekend trip with a toddler, and still maintain the charge."


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