Personal Log  #921

February 13, 2019  -  February 16, 2019

Last Updated:  Sun. 2/24/2019

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Charging Cost.  A problem most plug-in advocates tend to avoid is the cost to charge.  Under some circumstances, it can be a good deal.  Heck, at my local grocery store, it's free.  Unfortunately, sometimes it can be really expensive.  So, you need to consider all the factors a play.  The very high-speed is where you have to be really attentive.  A friend of mine tried it with has BMW i3 using a DC Fast Combo charger.  He got 17.07 kWh over the course of 45 minutes.  A slower charge (2.5 hours) for me overnight (for the off-peak discount) with my Prime is 6 kWh.  That comes to $0.42 for the total cost of that electricity.  My friend had pay $15.75 for his charging.  That much faster speed at a more expensive rate (due to the higher draw during peak hours) made if far more expensive for him.  Was that worth it?  Depending upon the situation, perhaps.  In terms of what that electricity equates to for distance, it's typical to get efficiency of around 4 miles/kWh on average for this time of year in the south.  That's about 68 miles of travel.  At 50 MPG using $2.50 per gallon gas, that would be equivalent to paying $3.40 for the same distance.  So on the road if you really need electricity, it might be rather expensive for a rapid recharge.  Less convenient is usually a better idea.  For my commute, electricity is by far the better choice.  For my long-distance trips, I'm much better off with just using gas.  Eventually, infrastructure will make electricity favorable in far more conditions.  That doesn't mean you should wait though.  The choice of fuel available to plug-in hybrids can provide the best-of-both-worlds experience... if you pay attention to charging cost.


Constructive Coexistence?  Fuel-Cell technology gets brought up a lot as a form of diversion.  Rather than deal with issues at hand, they attack Toyota with that nonsense.  Pretending GM, Honda, and Hyundai don't have fuel-cell programs of their own is key.  All you need is just enough to make people lose focus.  It's like yelling "Squirrel!" with the hope it makes the person talking stop long enough for someone else to fill in the silence.  It doesn't matter what is said next, just as long as topic changes.  On rare occasions, I get to actually point out some facts with the hope of constructive feedback.  It should be obvious that their will be a co-exist situation with hydrogen.  That means of energy storage & transfer is practical for certain application.  Getting people to consider the possibility of particular situations being more advantageous is a challenge.  I keep trying though:  Keep in mind that hydrogen will have a place in our society, but that will almost entirely be on the commercial side.  The reach out via passenger vehicles right now is to stimulate support for that.  Think about how practical they would be for large business fleets and the certain types of cargo trucks.  Educating those who will fund those programs is difficult.  Rollouts like this do a great job providing that information.  Plug-In vehicles face serious challenges in the meantime.  High-Speed charging is basically non-existent when you consider how rare those stations actually are.  There cost for equipment and the physical space they occupy makes them a monumental effort to rollout.  A variety of vehicles supporting a minimum rate of 150kW simply aren't going to be realistic for a number of years still.  We are very much in the earliest stages of rollout.  In other words, the doom & gloom and conclusions people are already drawing are complete nonsense.  There's no reason to take any of that seriously.  One thing you can count on though is there will not be a single solution.  We are embarking on a multi-technology age where there will be a variety of approaches taken.  The one-size-fits-all mindset is not constructive.


6 Weeks Left.  Remember the hell some of those enthusiasts put me through?  They fought for years in favor of a plug-in hybrid with no compromise, one that only used the gas-engine as an unnecessary emergency backup.  They coined "EREV" to displace the original purpose of addressing "range anxiety".  It supposedly worked so well, there was no reason to even discuss anything other than EV driving.  That was how they chose to fight Prius PHV and Ford's Energi.  That kind of worked, until BMW came along with i3.  That exceeded performance & purpose of Volt to such an extreme, enthusiasts lost their way.  That's what ultimately pushed them to all focus on EV competition instead.  Nissan was the victim of that.  Leaf's lack of an active thermal-management system left it vulnerable to spin attacks.  To the dismay of Volt enthusiasts, that didn't work.  They were losing the fight regardless of what seemed sound logic.  It was the dismissal of facts they didn't like which caused their downfall.  Every time vehicle price was brought up, they'd brush it aside, saying that was of no importance.  Having a $7,500 subsidy to disguise that problem helped tremendously.  They could shield attacks with that artificial barrier... which has since expired.  Seeing that phaseout coming and the consequences there of, enthusiasts of Volt almost unanimously shifted loyalty over to Bolt instead.  Remember how I pointed out the "olt" part of the name could later be exploited to mislead?  That's exactly what we saw.  The confusion was accepted as a misunderstanding, as if that's what everyone had been talking about all along.  We saw that mantra spread like wild fire.  As if overnight, Volt enthusiasts began saying the path to Bolt was planned all along.  As soon as EV became "affordable", the switch would happen.  Halting production mid-cycle was supposedly an expectation, even the part about people losing jobs in the process.  Ugh.  I reminded them of the rhetoric on what's left of the daily blog, pointing out no progress has actually been made in that regard:  GM press-release October 2, 2017 stated: "In the next 18 months, GM will introduce two new all-electric vehicles based off learnings from the Chevrolet Bolt EV."


All-Caps Rant.  Wow!  The response to Toyota's advancement of Corolla got intense.  It's obvious why.  Prius was an easy target.  Enthusiasts will dismiss it as slow & fugly, then move on.  They saw no reason to take it seriously.  Even though sales were strong, it was easy to dismiss as just being a green statement.  People were only buying it to show off their care for the environment, to portray an image of caring for all things green... as far as they were concerned.  That served enthusiasts well too.  It was their excuse to deny.  Seeing the same technology rolled out to Corolla without any sacrifice whatsoever derails their avoidance tactics.  How does one fight such a popular vehicle offering so much benefit for so little cost?  MPG combined rating equal to Prius in a stylish body already proven very popular is a death blow so extreme, they have no logical response.  So without any sensible next step, the inevitable happened.  Someone posted an rant in all capital letters.  It was hysterically long too, just a single run-on sentence a large paragraph in length.  You can't help but to be amused by such desperation.  It didn't work though.  I posed the following to address the nonsense:  Wanting it done quickly rather than done right has consequences.   Look at GM's rush to market with Volt.  It's production will soon end with no successor.  That proved a massive waste of tax-credits.  Toyota's plug-in approach is slower, but stands much greater chance of reaching mainstream consumers affordably and in large quantity.


Direction & Patience.  The smug is growing.  Purity is changing to intolerance.  It's getting ugly.  Statements like this indicate a turning point: "They reduce emission sure, but not enough, they are always burning fuel, that's not sufficient."  Remember how Volt had an engine, but everything was done to avoid actually using it?  That never made any sense to anyone other than enthusiasts, but it did serve as a bridge to reach ordinary consumers.  That failed, but the reasoning of it appealing to mainstream consumers was an obvious point.  They'd sell the idea of the engine only being used as an emergency backup, but promote the fact that it performed without sacrifice to power or speed when you used it.  That mixing of messages is what ultimately killed Volt.  Lack of agreement of purpose is even worse then not fulfilling a goal.  Advancement in any direction is impossible without consensus.  GM found that out the hard way by trying to please everyone with a one-size-fits-all solution.  Thankfully, we can clearly see Toyota isn't doing that.  We get a wide variety of hybrids for their wide variety of customers.  That makes the direction to take with the technology very easy to agree upon.  I pointed that out in my attempt to deal with today's smug post:  A plug-in hybrid will dramatically reduce consumption & emissions.  My Prime averages 80% EV driving, despite numerous long highway trips per year without a place to recharge.  It's a technology we can deploy immediately, due to its affordable design.  GM failed miserably with Volt due to the cold, hard reality that it was too expensive to produce.  That made it very unattractive to dealers and made the sticker-price unreachable for ordinary people.  Your "not enough" isn't constructive in 2019.  You know quite well next-gen offerings will take battery-tech the next step to being realistic for the masses. In the meantime, the much needed infrastructure will be improved too.  Most businesses don't have any chargers at all.  The few that do only have a couple.  How does that help anyone beyond early-adopters?  Show some patience.


Facts.  Don't you love how people throw around facts, but fail to include any detail to actually support what they claim the fact represents:  "The fact people are abandoning Toyota hybrids in droves for the model3 says it all."  I wasn't about to let that nonsense attract any thoughtless response:  That "fact" omits vital information, providing a distorted perspective of the bigger picture.  True, some owners of Prius are indeed trading up for Model 3.  That's a very small percentage though, and they'd be really missing out on the opportunity by not taking advantage of the tax-credit.  It's a low-hanging fruit situation, quite short-sighted.  What happens when that $7,500 incentive is gone?  RAV4 hybrid (second-generation is just rolling out now) shows a great deal of growth potential.  What does that say?  It's a compelling choice at an affordable price.  That's what mainstream sales are all about.  Corolla hybrid is in a similar strong growth position.  For anyone who didn't like the look of Prius, there's no excuse not to seriously consider it.  That's what product diversity is all about. Within the fleet, there will be a hybrid choice to your liking... and each is designed to take the step of offering a plug very easily.  Remember, Toyota is investing heavily in battery advancement.  So what if those plug-ins aren't offered for a few more years still.  In the meantime, the platform to take advantage of the new tech will be establishing itself on a massive scale.  Dealers & Salespeople will grow familiar with the system ahead of demand from showroom shoppers.  So, what does that "fact" really tell us about the upcoming market?


Smug.  Ever wonder how the smug respond to the logic of a sensible business approach?  This was a great example: "And in Toyota's case it's head in the sand and fingers in the ears, while loudly screaming lalalalalala I can't hear you."  That's how they perceive the choice to ignore rhetoric.  That never ceases to amaze me.  Their own hypocrisy goes totally unnoticed.  The very comments they make about the situation are their own version of lalalala.  Yet, they don't see it.  Pushing ahead blindly with nothing but the hope of "if you build it, they will buy it" has failed dramatically.  Studying the market and staying true to goals is meaningless.  They have a group-think idea and believe everyone else will follow, even when there's nothing to support that belief.  I find the lack of understanding quite troubling.  They simple dismiss what they don't like, rather than addressing the issue.  How does that fix a problem?  This was my response to the nonsense they stirred today:  Hear who?  GM made the mistake of listening to enthusiasts.  Volt-1 failed to attract their own loyal customers as a result.  Volt-2 repeated that same mistake, delivering even more of a niche product.  Targeting the wrong audience cost GM immensely.  They now have a plug-in hybrid about end production with no successor.  It was a huge waste of tax-credits.  Toyota isn't concerned about the opinions of those screaming "anti-EV" because they don't represent their showroom shoppers.  Profitable high-volume don't come from listening to those not interested in what mainstream consumers will actually purchase.  Why would Toyota put so much hope on dealers serving a complacent market?  Setting the stage for plug-in offerings by shifting a large chunk of their fleet over to hybrids is a sensible next step.  Meanwhile, other automakers are making a lot of noise but delivering very little.  It's quite hypocritical to pretend not to see that taking place by aiming a spotlight on Toyota.  Those of us paying attention see what's really happening.  Think about how easy it will be to sell Corolla plug-in hybrid when Corolla hybrid is a common sight on roads and in parking lots.  It will be that silent sucker-punch to those enthusiasts here in denial about how to appeal to ordinary people... in high-volume... for a profit.


Leadership & Payback.  Someone brought up the analogy of this being the age of "Horse & Buggy".  That was about a century ago when the switch from almost all horses and a few cars reversed to only a few horses and almost all cars.  It seemed like overnight, but in reality took roughly 2 decades.  Back then, the benefit of switching was profound.  Switching from a high maintenance form of transport for one or two to a means of moving more people and cargo a greater distance at greater convenience was obvious.  What is their with a switch from guzzler to green?  Most people look at it as an expensive sacrifice.  How do you sell that?  Apparently, the leader is the one who offers the most range... even though you get less miles and less convenient from plugging in rather then pumping gas.  Ugh.  That comes from our simple-minded approach to everything.  When a complex issue comes up, people in general think there is always a simple answer somewhere... that we just need to find it.  Ugh, again.  The hard work it took to even get the buggy to take over for the horse is over-simplified.  It took a lot of work to setup infrastructure and to train people.  Whether or not the answer is obvious doesn't mean it will be easy.  In this case, we are dealing with a society obsesses with size & power.  They will sacrifice quite a bit to have that, but won't consider even a penny toward being green.  So many ask about "payback" duration, you don't stand any chance of getting them to contribute anything toward environmental benefit.  They absolutely refuse to put any value on lower emissions & consumption.  It's all about getting something for nothing.  Thankfully, there are a few true leaders who see the actual problem.  Toyota is pushing Corolla as that something-for-nothing solution.  Payback is so obvious, that question won't even get asked.  It should become a "no brainer" purchase decision.  You want a Corolla, why not get the hybrid model?  My response to the issue doesn't get such an elaborate explanation though.  Heck, I don't even bring up purpose.  I keep it very simple:  329,196 sold last year in just the United States... a land of SUV crazed consumers.  Not a single one of them had the influence/dependency of a tax-credit and the result was a tidy profit for automaker & dealers.  Whether or not that's called "leadership", it is an example of solid business... which is exactly what's needed to position the entire fleet for motor & battery use.

2-13-2019 No More Spin.  It's nice to see the arguments are over.  We're just seeing a lot of summaries at this point, like: "Then Toyota will either be left behind or just play more catch up with the rest of the industry."  It came from someone who sometimes serves as a devil's advocate.  So, it was worthwhile providing a well thought out response:

Toyota continues to refine their EV tech.  The efficiency from both Prius Prime's traction-motor & heat-pump is impressive already.  That will be offered in a plug-in model of Corolla hybrid in the not-to-distance future.  Next year, an EV model of C-HR will be offered in China.  Meanwhile, the next-gen RAV4 hybrid is being rolled out.  What aspect of "behind" is there with respect to reaching mainstream consumers?

With respect to cost-reduction of those non-battery components, where is the rest of the industry?  Think about how well positioned Toyota will be with RAV4 hybrid in this market when an affordable battery (no tax-credit dependency) becomes realistic for the masses.  Having that already established puts them in a very good place.

When I see claims of needing to catch up, it makes me wonder how far reaching the rhetoric has become.  There are far too many engineers claiming to be well versed in marketing & economics.  It's the problem GM had with Volt now playing out on a larger scale.  Knowing your audience means understanding how to appeal to them.

So what if a point-in-time advertisement doesn't embrace the future if it still gets the consumer to take a step forward.  You worry about the next step after the baggage holding you back is gone.  In this case, Toyota is trying to rid itself of traditional vehicles far faster than other automakers.

Look at it this way, other automakers will have a premiere electric vehicle and a large selection of traditional vehicles.  Meanwhile, Toyota will have a wide selection of hybrids and a few plug-in hybrids, to go along with their premiere electric vehicle.  No more high-volume traditional vehicles would put them ahead.


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