Personal Log  #940

May 12, 2019  -  May 19, 2019

Last Updated:  Mon. 7/29/2019

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Charging Questions.  We are getting a lot of them now.  For example: "40A (overkill for Prime) EVSE.  Plugs to 40A 240v circuit.  Charges the Prime from 0 to 34 miles (reported) in 2 hours flat."  There is a lot to contribute.  Basically, any information is a good means of getting constructive discussion.  Many people have little to no background.  So, even just sharing personal experience stories is helpful... which is precisely what I did today:  We have 2, both the Wi-Fi enabled model.  They work great for our Primes.  Being able to check status, adjust settings (like maximum draw and maximum charge), and view history is really nice.  A full recharge takes us 1-hour 50-minutes.  Keep in mind that a 40-amp line (sustained delivery of 32 amps) will provide 200 miles of range in 8 hours.  So, a 40A setup is really overkill for most of your need is overnight charging.  Remember, you'll almost certainly want a second charger for your household at some point.  That means taking into account now how much your service-panel can provide for capacity overall.  You'll also want to consider how to take advantage of your local electricity discount opportunities.  In our case, we were the very first customers for our Co-Op to request dual time-of-use lines.  With that, our billing lists activity from each vehicle individually, showing the quantity of kWh usage for each pricing category (based on timing when electricity is drawn).  It's quite nice.  All we needed to do was pay for the extra meter ($75) and can ($70) during installation of the line.  Another thing to be aware of is the 240-volt outlet type.  Having such a standard outlet is important when shopping for a charger (adapters are available).  NEMA 14-50 is by far the most common for new installs.  But that's likely not what you have currently for other appliances, like a clothes dryer.  It can support a maximum capacity of 50-amp, but the line doesn't need to be that powerful.  In our case, we have 8-gauge wire connected to 40-amp breakers.  There isn't much else to consider technically.  All you really need to know are those basics.  The electrician providing an estimate for cost for running line(s) is the only thing that will vary for individual homes, since service-panel access and where you would like to physically locate the charger will obviously differ.


Climate Denial.  I stumbled across an article today about a giant coal company filing for bankruptcy.  It was Chapter 11, so there will be some type of reorganization effort.  That process if revealing.  Much can be learned about how the business got into that situation.  That's key to understanding what the future holds.  What should you expect?  What will actually happen?  How long will it take.  This is what I had to say with regard to this particular situation:  It's interesting when you have some family that actually lives in Gillette.  Driving around there will my Blue Magnetism Prime, especially when back on the dirt roads, sure provides an acute awareness of how much certain areas of the country fight to retain the status quo.  You see signs there proudly supporting that industry... which is extra poignant during the holiday, when you see one reminding you that coal in your stocking is the ultimate gift.  There's opportunity to embrace change.  The potential is obvious.  Just imagine how such unfarmable land that's always windy could take advantage of turbines.  Generating lots of electricity to supply other areas of the country seems like something they'd seek out, knowing that coal is doomed. Perhaps this bankruptcy file will serve as a wake-up call.  It certainly has revealed that some have been well aware of the problem.  At some point, they need to finally address it.  Soon would be nice.  So many resources have been wasted on the denial.  Evidence of how it impact climate is obvious.  Solutions to that are too.  It's so reminiscent of tobacco.  There fight to prevent the inevitable was remarkable.


It's Getting Ugly.  This was the opening sentence on the first article I came across: "President Donald Trump on Friday declared that imported cars represented a threat to U.S. national security..."  It's truly disturbing to see fear used in such a way.  That type of manipulation of people, making them feel insecure when there isn't actually anything to fear, is a practice those well informed know all too well.  You appeal to emotion, telling them what they want to hear.  That version of reality is fake news.  It's a narrative used to undermine... and is often effective for those who simply don't pay attention or don't want to get involved.  It's group-think with terrible consequences.  Needless to say, there was a press-release from Toyota about the attack.  This was how they responded: "Toyota has been deeply engrained in the U.S. for over 60 years. Between our R&D centers, 10 manufacturing plants, 1,500-strong dealer network, extensive supply chain and other operations, we directly and indirectly employ over 475,000 in the U.S., and have invested over $60 billion in this country, including over $1 billion in philanthropic and community-outreach efforts."  In addition to all those American paychecks, there are over 36,000,000 vehicles from Toyota/Lexus on our roads still.  What a mess.  Consumers here will end up with fewer choices and those choices will be more expensive.  How is that helping American families?  How is that helping anything related to improved security?  Think about how much better the country would be with imports helping to change infrastructure, encouraging the move away from imported oil?  It's an attack on the wrong industry.  How stupid can this supposed leader of ours really be?


Attacking Imports.  During that long series of rhetoric for Volt, there was often a lot of flag-waving propaganda.  We'd get claims of "American" vehicle support for a car that was nearly two-thirds foreign.  So much was imported from Korea, it was difficult to have any type of constructive response.  Nothing was effective to those who simply dismiss facts.  The same problem persisted with Bolt until recently, when everyone stopped paying attention to GM.  Focus was has become directed to Tesla, which isn't as American built as thought.  There are some essential components coming from China manufacturers... which makes it subject to tariffs.  The recent application for exemption from that was rejected too.  Cost to American consumers is skyrocketing overall with so many sources now faced with higher prices.  How do you deal with a self-imposed problem that ultimately will cause harm?  Our president just plain doesn't care about the consequences.  Today's announcement made that behavior even worse.  The idea of superiority is reaching a scary level.  There was an executive proclamation that declared a 25% tariff will be imposed on imports from Europe & Japan.  Making things worse, he's attacking the brand not the product.  I suspect news of fallout from this will be fresh online first thing tomorrow morning.


GM Progress?  Remember all those claims of "vastly superior" to that resulted in a position of supposed leadership?  I heard so many "behind" insults it was truly remarkable... and never made any sense.  GM demonstrated you could have a great performing electric-vehicle if you brushed aside concerns of cost and just squeezed in as much battery-capacity as possible.  What did that accomplish?  It certainly didn't result in any progress with regard to changing the status quo.  Just go to a GM dealership.  Do you see any difference Volt or Bolt made?  How can Toyota be so far behind when their hybrid technology has become so prolific?  The new RAV4 hybrid is extremely popular.  It's a platform that can inexpensively support plug augmentation.  How is that in any way "laggard" indication?  It's undeniable effort to avoid the Osborne Effect.  When the market nears mainstream interest toward plugging in, transition away from traditional vehicles across the fleet will be well underway.  This isn't manipulation of attitude via press-release.  It's a solid business plan.  As for GM making progress, there we spy-shots of a supposed plug-in SUV posted online today.  What was most interesting about that was the lack of interest.  In the past, we'd get enthusiast hype stirred to an extreme.  Now, there's barely a whisper.  People have clearly moved on, given up on GM.  The reputation of "over promise, under deliver" has become a burn for so many, there simply isn't an audience anymore.  This is why I kept asking the "Who?" question... knowing someday this would be the outcome.  Sustainable business cannot survive on conquest alone.


EV Owners Meeting.  This evening's (here in Minnesota, where our group is quite large and quite diverse) was quite informative.  I wasn't aware that the effort to provide a state-level tax-credit was still active.  $2,500 for each new purchase would be great.  Unfortunately, that is being fought against really hard.  Making matters even worse with respect to political lobbying is a proposed $200 fee per charging-station.  Imagine owners of a store or resort facing that payment each year for each charging their offer for their patrons.  How is that even being considered?  For what purpose?  There's no benefit to what will clearly looked upon as a discouragement.  Sadly, our group is keenly in tune to how much the general public is oblivious to these happenings.  The year's legislative session will end this week without them being any the wiser.  Most people still know very little about electric vehicles or charging.  Even fewer know anything about the detail related to politics.  Fortunately, we recognize the potential.  That's what we are trying to teach others about.  For example, I routinely hear that our grid is incapable of serving a large number of vehicles for charging.  That's pure nonsense.  We already see that type of demand each summers.  A/C power is readily available.  We manage just fine.  That same load can be provided for homes needing overnight vehicle charging.  It's not a big deal.  Our infrastructure already supports it... no upgrade needed.  In fact, that provides opportunity rural areas are hoping to exploit.  Those co-ops know they'll have a very difficult time getting local businesses to offer chargers.  But in homes, there's a great deal of potential.  So, we get many exchanges with their representatives about how to achieve that.  Appealing to customers is a win-win situation.  They'll get to sell more electricity, even for those with solar.  Our effort now is to spread the word about things to come.  In the meantime, we're establishing relationships with those who can spread the word.  For me, I have an interview scheduled with a national representative and I'll be organizing a discussion panel at a local library.  I'm also looking forward to starting up gatherings again, now that availability of Prime is looking to ramp up.  In other words, it's all about being proactive.  Finding a group of supporters to make that happen is great.


Short-Sightedness.  If you pay close attention to the rhetoric, sometimes a shortcoming to their line of argument will be exposed.  In the case of constantly trying to push a narrative portraying Toyota as unwilling to embrace EV... which is long-term... I came to realize no one was addressing mid-term.  It only takes a moment of thought about what those plans could be when you recognize the importance.  Toyota has a clear path to get from here to there.  GM never did.  Watching Volt trapped in the past, never advancing forward eventually got noticed.  That's how Bolt name about.  In fact, that's how the similar sounding aspect was derived.  It was obvious right from that moment it was announced confusion with those similar names would help conceal the dramatic change of plans for GM.  Failing to have anything capable of achieving the next step in terms of spreading Volt technology to some mainstream vehicle with the intent of competing directly against traditional vehicles (the undeniable next stage for any initial rollout) meant giving up and trying something else.  Abandoning that technology was a rather drastic move, one that does not have any path forward.  It's incredibly risky to expect customers to embrace something so unfamiliar.  Sure, early-adopters don't mind.  But for ordinary people who no little to nothing about how their current vehicle operates means a world of unexpected consequences to deal with.  There's simply no way to set realistic expectations.  Fortunately, not all automakers are that short-sighted.  Hopefully, most of the enthusiasts will wake up to reality too.  There are consequences.  Leading by example is the most effective means of change.  Perhaps this will help:  People who complain about "self-charging" are not acknowledging or recognizing Toyota's effort to phaseout traditional vehicles.  When that is achieved, there will be two fundamentally different types of hybrids available.  Use of the "self-charging" label makes it very clear it is different from the "plug-in" model.  Planning ahead like that is good business.  Contributing to confusion by fueling enthusiast rhetoric is unfortunate.


EV Support in Japan.  We get comments like this on a regular basis: "Ironically, Japan is way-low on that list, because of their insistence upon developing FCEVs over BEVs."  That often comes from jumping to conclusions using limited to no actual data to support them.  Many only see references to hydrogen support and have no idea what actually takes place behind the scenes in technical decisions and public releases.  It's very easy to cherry-pick information too.  Simply filtering what's shared is how misconceptions are intentionally spread.  In other words, some people feed narratives.  Whether that is done with purpose or unknowingly doesn't matter.  It's all about making sure specific facts aren't ever shared.  For example, not having 240-volt service available for most homes in Japan is a vital tidbits never mentioned.  That would obviously impact decisions related to the size of a battery-pack offering.  What benefit is there to a capacity larger than what an owner can reasonably recharge overnight.  With standard voltage lower in Japan than our lowest here in the United States is a really big deal... yet, rarely acknowledged or even known.  I kept my response to the misconception feeding short:  That would be an anecdotal observation leading you to decision based upon incomplete information.  Most households in Japan only have 100-volt lines available.  Imagine how inconvenient it would be to have that as your only means of recharging an EV.  It would take forever.  That shortcoming is why Prime over there has CHAdeMO as an option.


$1,000 Fee.  Imagine getting hit with that each year when renewing registration for your vehicle.  That's what owners in the state of Illinois are now facing.  It's an extreme for collecting funds in place of what would ordinarily be accounted for simply through gas-tax.  The logic of EV miles not paying for road repair & replace is sensible.  But with an amount so massive, that's nuts.  What makes such a huge amount realistic?  A traditional vehicle getting 35 MPG over an annual travel distance of 15,000 miles will consume 429 gallons of gas.  If the typical tax is $0.25 per gallon, that only comes to $107.25 for the entire year.  How can nearly 10 times that amount be justified for an electric-only vehicle?  That's absolutely absurd to think it could be looked upon as reasonable.  Talking about extreme overkill.  Why not a fee of $125 instead?  Such a proposed effort to provide proceeds for maintenance... which are very difficult to account... is clearly a move to discourage the switch to electricity.  You can easily imagine some type of oil-industry lobbying to influence a political proposal do drastic


Subaru Hybrid.  Spotting a new purchase (no plates yet) of a Crosstrek on the road today left me wondering.  I couldn't for the life of me remember at that moment if there was a hybrid model prior to the plug-in and what to look for on the upcoming plug-in model?  Fortunately, I was able to capture the moment with my dashcam.  Afterward, I looked up badging on internet.  Turns out, it wasn't the Subaru with Prime's tech in it.  So, I still haven't seen one yet.  From such a small automaker, that's no surprise... though, I have noticed quite a number of Crosstreks on the road.  It's only a matter of time... and I now know exactly what to look for.


Acceptance & Balance.  The ability to fail quickly and move on (the "Agile" method) is not something certain enthusiasts will ever embrace.  They fight and fight and fight for a cause that sounds good, but doesn't actually have a viable business path.  That's what sets them apart from supporters.  If something doesn't work, you acknowledge the lesson learned and confirm goals are still sensible.  Instead, we get excuses & blame.  Ugh.  That's still what a few are doing as damage-control for Volt.  They just plain don't want to accept what happened... the very thing that sets them up to repeat the same mistake, yet again.  In this case, it was refusing to acknowledge this comment on a discussion about Honda's effort to offer a plug-in hybrid: "How is/was the Volt in any way better than the Clarity? Volt is too small, cramped."  I was obviously annoyed.  So, I jumped in with:  It doesn't matter.  The problem with Volt was always GM's attitude toward the technology.  Configuring a niche was fine for initial rollout, but betting the farm on it becoming the source of sustainable high-volume profitable sales with a recipe for disaster.  GM never planned to diversify.  That's an essential next step in any type of effort to change the status quo.  Initially, constructive feedback was to simply offer a second model with a more affordable configuration.  Enthusiast pushback turned that into the suggestion to offer that technology in Volt on a more appealing platform for GM's own customers, like Equinox.  Instead, GM focused on making Volt even more appealing to enthusiasts.  They ended up rolling out a next-gen Volt, which clearly emphasized traits showroom shoppers would have no interest in paying a premium for.  They also rolled out ELR, an even more expensive version of Volt.  It was the problem of "Innovator's Dilemma" playing out exactly as supporters expressed concern about.  Thankfully, other automakers didn't follow GM.  Seeing Honda favor a layout that isn't cramped is great.  The potential for Toyota to do the same with their Camry or RAV4 hybrids adds to that sentiment of balance.  What did GM's choice to push an enthusiast favored niche accomplish?


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