Personal Log  #917

January 23, 2019  -  January 27, 2019

Last Updated:  Sun. 2/24/2019

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1-27-2019 Technology Analogies.  It is very interesting when someone brings up a situation to make an analogy, but then totally messes up the concept.  For example: "Phone chargers is a good example of how things develop and progress."  It was obvious he was frustrated by the past from long ago.  Remember in the previous decade, when each phone had it's own propriety adaptor?  We all do.  It was very frustrating to see so much incompatibility.  What a waste.  We learned from those experiences though.  Standards were developed.  Sharing & Reuse became a reality.  Did the poster forget that?  How could so much of this recent history be completely disregarded or overlooked?  I was quite curious to find out, so I posted:

Not really.  The mini-usb chargers are forward-compatible with usb-c.  All you need is a $2 adapter.  I'm still using my S6 charger with my S9 because of that forward-thinking design.

SAE-J1772 protocol for plug-in vehicles is well thought out already.  Doubling of our current 3.6 kW charging rate is already supported by most 240-volt chargers, without any need for an adapter.  They automatically deliver power based upon the rate requested from the vehicle.  Should someone be fortunate enough to take full advantage of that spec and have a high-power vehicle, a 100-amp line will provide 19.2 kW.  A charger with that protocol and input capacity covers it already.  No adapter needed.

That planning ahead is the result of trying really hard to prevent future capability issues.  A standard for household charging benefits everyone involved.  Anyone setting up equipment with at least a 40-amp line will be set for many years to come.

Looking at it another way, consider a sustained rate from that 40-amp line.  The 7 kW will supply 7 kWh of electricity in 1 hour.  Given 8 hours to charge, there would be about 56 kWh delivered.  Subtracting charging losses from conversion & transfer, you have roughly 48 kWh added to the battery-pack after that duration.  Figuring you'd consume it later at about a rate of 4 mile/kWh, it would provide roughly 190 miles of range... at home from today's technology.

What more do you realistically need?


Battery Warming.  There's lots of people posting about the battery-warming feature in Prius Prime.  Though my data from last year is limited, it is still something to work with.  I captured operational aspects.  You can see how the system performs, but there isn't any detail about the battery.  Back then, all I had was limited access.  Just engine information doesn't tell you enough to really understand what's needed to deal with extreme cold.  This generation of battery-pack includes warming technology.  It's not complicated.  It's basically a carefully thought out plan to take advantage of what essentially is just warming-tape.  That simplicity is key.  Done right, you have an affordable solution that's really effective.  Proving that's what Toyota actually delivered shouldn't be too much of an effort.  Complex filming setup can be a problem though.  If you breathe too much in a cold car, the windshield will freeze from the moisture you are introducing prior to starting the vehicle.  I'm hoping to avoid that situation while trying to get valuable extreme cold data to share.  I'll keep the Prius plugged in to take advantage of the warmer.  Since my 240-volt charger at home is Wi-Fi enabled, I will be able to capture that data in the form of a graph... hopefully easy enough to see that I could include that detail in a video.  The electric draw shown will be exclusively from that of the warmer, since the battery-pack itself will be fully charged prior to the wait.  Stay tuned.

1-27-2019 Priorities.  The death of Volt sure has made it easy to finally discuss matters other than range & power.  The obsession with that got so bad, any mention of cost was simply dismissed as an effort to endorse Prius.  That ironic twist of recognition to what Prius held as a high priority was quite amusing.  To achieve the "leap frog" goal, Volt would have to exceed what Prius delivered.  Simply disregarding price meant having to overlook failure to actually deliver.  The enthusiasts certainly tried too.  Problem is, what happened in the United States was only a small play in the big game.  In other words, what happens in China really matters, as this post drew attention to: "I don't think Chinese are incapable of quality manufacturing,  I just think there's a huge cultural disconnect.  In China, price is king ... and I mean king over all other considerations."  Discussion of such matters was impossible in the past.  That change is quite welcome, which hopefully will become an on-going theme.  Even small progress is still progress.  One step at a time, keeping priorities clearly in mind:

I had the opportunity to drive an EV from BYD (China automaker) on a closed track along with a number of plug-in offerings available here.

It was truly remarkable to observe firsthand what the cost tradeoffs to achieve a super low price would result in.  The electric motor was slow & noisy.  The regenerative brakes were rough & noisy.  The car itself was utilitarian.  Standards in our market would make it a non-starter, even without taking into account the lack of safety features.  But if you simply wanted basic electric-only transport, it did indeed deliver.

Sadly, many early-adopters are poor representation of balance, yet they don't recognize that... despite the obvious willingness to spend top-dollar for emerging technology.  They gravitate to that opposite extreme, where pricing isn't a priority... which is why Tesla has been so successful.  Tesla will continue to be successful too... but not in the same way.  Success later this year will depend upon cost-reduction choices.  The generous tax-credit phaseout will bring those changes.  Sales will drop as a result, settling at sustainable level.

I'm tired of the blatant efforts to stir discussion by bringing up comparisons obviously not relevant to the market changes taking place now.  Events of the past don't apply well, or at all, when the audience is different.  That's why early-adopter preference may not be applicable to ordinary consumers.  Mainstream sales have little in common with the draws of introductory crowds.

Observations of other markets is what helps bring about a better understanding of what we will soon be facing.  Looking close at the very large Chinese market with a very different culture and very different priorities will teach us more about what we need to consider.

1-27-2019 Jumping Ship.  How would you respond to this: "Unless Toyota does better to address the range issue on the Prime ( Need 60 Miles on Battery ) or another Electric or Plugin I am going to defect."  When someone who really wants to be supportive losses patience, you don't want to burn a bridge.  Being able to reach out to them later as a friend who ventured out elsewhere is important.  They may become an ally supporting the same cause, but with a different automakers.  They may return with insight you wouldn't otherwise be able to obtain.  They may simply appreciate a supportive goodbye.  Whatever the case, it's important to listen to what they have to say.  Since that was posted on the big Prius forum with a sense of constructive criticism, I tried to extend a hand of support:

Then, you will get a thank you from us for be willing to pay a premium for a product aimed at a different audience.  Breaking out beyond the affordable choices will be helpful at some point.  In your case, you'd be paying sooner for that extra capacity and either giving up electric-heating or adding to the price to get it... from a Hyundai that doesn't actually exist yet.  Toyota's current focus is to strike a balance that will attract the masses, not what you seek.  Diversity is very important.  So, you'll get the recognition for breaking other ground.

Keep in mind that GM failed miserably with their attempt to draw buyers to a plug-in hybrid offering that range you deem as necessary.  Most people dismissed that as a want, not a need.  Someday when cost is much lower and energy-density is much higher, that could be realistic.  Currently, it most definitely is not.

Toyota doubled capacity from 4.4 kWh (20 km) to 8.8 kWh (40 km) in their quest to keep Prius targeted at ordinary consumers.  Could a 19.6 kWh (80 km) capacity be realistic for the next generation offering?  That seems reasonable to expect.  It wouldn't satisfy your distance requirement though.  So, we must ask what other criteria you deem important for a plug-in hybrid.  Tell us, please.

Think about how Toyota has strived to deliver high efficiency for both EV and HV modes, as well as keeping emission-rating for the HV system impressive to all those promoting cleaner air, without forcing a premium to be paid.


Extreme Cold.  Weather forecasts state we are in for a blast of cold that will reach an extreme.  We will likely break records, seeing temperatures low enough to break daily records.  It does get that nasty from time to time in Minnesota, but it has been quite a number of years.  In fact, I only remember a few times dealing with such situations in the Prius.  Those are distinct memories that really stand out.  The engine basically never really warms up, you only get brief opportunities for it to shut off... with previous generations.  Knowing of the improvements Prius Prime has implemented, it don't expect as noticeable of an experience.  The engine will just run at a high RPM initially, but longer than usual, then stay in that low & off zone.  Since I will likely just work from home to avoid the horribly slow commute, that driving experience may not happen.  I'd like to get something to share, but wasting so much time behind the wheel when you've got deadlines to meet doesn't make sense.  Though less convenient, being able to work remotely is the better choice.  Hopefully, after the dangerous part of the system coming through passes, I'll be able to film a commute in the extreme cold.  Stay tuned.


Sensibility?  Sometimes there is a glimmer of hope from the noise of chaotic discussion: "Ultimately, this goes back to coming up with cars that people not only want, but they can afford."  Well, there isn't much to add to that.  How many times did the "nicely under $30,000" goal get mentioned over the years?  I would remind them of it and then point out why it was so important for the technology to be affordable.  You'd think that would be obvious.  But then again, some online act as though they are totally brain dead.  I never cease to be amazed how many people expect the technology to either be totally free or for there to be a complete payback at some point.  That could make sense if they would make an effort to explain why, but they don't even try.  It's why I'm often not that hopeful with most discussions.  What does "afford" actually mean?  For example, if you look at monthly expenses.  Put in those terms, a person could see how the reduction of fuel cut has the potential to offset car payments.  If the two come close, you stand a chance of keeping the person's attention.  They may even become curious and ask you to tell them more.  That's the key.  Find something they find important.  Money out-of-pocket can be a powerful motivator, even if the balance is a bit more than anticipated.  Many people just need some sensible conversation to find out what the expenses really are.


Consequences.  Rather than expressing concern warning of detrimental outcome, I am now pointing out actual consequences.  Those days of arguing risk and defending position are over.  Volt was leading a group of followers down a rabbit hole.  Those individuals attacked me whenever I tried to get them to look at the big picture.  They were convinced the path they were on was what would lead them to happiness.  They were wrong, very very very wrong.  Making it worse, they now recognize that my concern was sincere... which is an extremely uncomfortable position to be in after countless hostile responses claiming otherwise.  No matter what they say, I can turn it on them now.  So, they disappear.  Quickly approaching the anniversary of their biggest counter-offensive, that defeat appears to have been taken seriously.  Volt died a painful death... one of silence.  It will be looked back upon as a major failure, technology without support.  They were so focused on engineering, the consequences of their business neglect became overwhelming.  There's no way to save such a monumental mistake.  Dismissing a fundamental aspect of success was foolish... and they all now know that.  It's all too clear Volt wasn't a vehicle intended for the masses.  This is why I pushed the "Who?" question so much.  It was meant to be a wake-up call to draw attention to opportunity being missed.  So much focus on their niche was a terrible choice.  Oddly, some still try to spin it as not so bad.  To that, I say:  That narrative here is pretty sad.  Several automakers are diversifying with fuel-cell exploration and pursuing EV offerings.  Those that engineer with press-release get lots of credit.  Those who don't get an "anti" label.  No one cried foul about how GM squandered their subsidies on a niche rollout as a distraction from actually electrifying their fleet.  It worked well too.  That resistance to delivering a plug-in SUV or Pickup went completely unnoticed.  In other words, some here really need to reevaluate priorities.  The group-think has consequences.

1-24-2019 Moving Parts.  Not understanding is often the root of the problem: "I don't understand what TGNA is, except more profit for Toyota."  It's unfortunate someone posting so heavily really doesn't have a clue how all the moving parts interact.  It's like throwing a dart randomly, hoping to hit something... hence throwing lots of darts.  Eventually, he gets a bite (yes, it's trolling) on something someone else is willing to exchange posts about.  Anywho, I was happy to actually get something constructive this time.  Hopefully, it provides something worthwhile in return: 

This is that paradigm-shift I drew attention to.  The industry is being forced to shift to a low-margin approach.... which means what appears to be a profit gain at the moment is really preparation to sustain business in the future.  It is that "tinkering" you didn't see as progress forward.

Think about how difficult plug-in sales will be without subsidy help.  Toyota is taking that situation very serious.  They don't have the luxury of $44,000 base prices as acceptable.  Their audience expects much, much lower prices.  Rollout of TGNA is to reduce production cost for support of affordably competitive design.

Economics is more important than engineering in the long run.  Toyota knows this well.  They carefully study how to reach dealer & consumer and plan out their product-cycles accordingly.  That provides enthusiasts with lots of material to spin their own narrative... one which you have helped to feed at times.  That's why I politely request more detail, pointing out that vague comments unintentionally contribute to their rhetoric.

It's all about understanding the seemingly unrelated moves that contribute to fleet advancement.  With so many parts moving, it's very difficult to picture what's happening while in the middle of that plan.  As we draw closer to rollout, it will become obvious how each of those steps helped progress along.


Trolls.  You follow forums & blogs long enough, eventually you'll notice a pattern.  Today, it was: "tesla technology is way beyond anything else on the market"  That came from a troublemaker who's been getting worse and worse... absolutely refusing to provide anything quantitative.  Posts have become vague, to the point of being worthless.  Heck, he often doesn't even quote what he's responding to anymore.  It's basically a takeover of threads.  You know, someone craving attention.  For the last 2 years, he's complained about the smaller cargo area in Prime.  It never ceased.  He just likes to object, perhaps?  Following his other posts though, to get a better idea of who I was dealing with, it was obvious he had no actual business or engineering knowledge.  All those were lacking substance, closely resembling propaganda.  It was really annoying to confirm.  Some of it was just pure greenwash too.  The complete absence of anything with merit was so frustrating.  So, I did more research... know your audience... after all.  That was necessary, since my confrontation was replied to with a parrot response and I didn't want to waste anymore more time.  The result sounded alarms.  Seeing his post count at nearly 75,000 was all it took to become very concerned.  He likely turned rogue, the result of disenchantment... which means an endless stream of finding-someone-to-blame posts.  Sound familiar?  I looked up recent posting activity.  87 posts yesterday.  64 the day before.  153 the day before that.  Yup, that was it.  Constructive nature is lost when such a magnitude is reached, which was clearly evident by the lack of detail.  It was becoming just spin.  A troll was born.  I always wondered how that attitude came about.  It the same thing I've seen several times in the past.  History repeats itself with such persistance.  Knowing there is no satisfying someone who just plain does not came, I ended his provokes with:  It's the same old "vastly superior" nonsense again.


Ugh.  "but every day toyota tinkers, tesla advances. all carmakers are already behind the 8-ball. only tesla is prepared for the future."  That one particular troublemaker who appears to be someone who posts frequently & continuously throughout the day at trolling volumes keeps filling up discussions with substantless content.  It's so annoying when a person just participates for the sake of participating.  His "contributions" take away from the value, just cluttering up threads with words lacking any merit or even any substance.  They just fill space, making content of value more difficult to find.  I try to inform, but providing education without sounding condescending is really a challenge:  Know your audience.  Please take the time to research what it takes to actually prepare.  That post clearly reveals you have not.  Toyota is doing exactly what it takes to advance.  High-Volume processes cannot be changed quickly.  Adaptation works best by taking numerous small steps.  That everyday tinkering is evidence of progress forward. Forcing the perspective of Tesla (a limited product start-up) makes absolutely no sense.  Claiming otherwise confirms being out of touch with what legacy automakers must do.  Only enthusiasts care about the impression of being behind.  Ordinary consumers aren't even paying attention to the early-adopter market.  When they finally do take notice in a few years, they'll see Toyota was well prepared from all the technology they already rolled out in their hybrids.


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