Prius Personal Log  #965

September 3, 2019  -  September 11, 2019

Last Updated:  Sun. 10/06/2019

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Abandon Spin.  I liked coming across this: "Toyota becoming the "standard" for PHEVs when pretty much every other auto maker is abandoning PHEVs in favor of putting all EV development money into BEVs?"  It's a statement ending with a question-mark.  What is that supposed to actually mean?  Having an outcome of misleading is the point.  Antagonists make efforts to feed a narrative.  You only notice it when stepping back to look for patterns.  The consistent message of abandonment becomes obvious then.  The easiest to see late last year was when GM annouced the end of Volt production.  The message conveyed by enthusiasts was solidified, GM would embrace Bolt as their one-and-only strategy forward.  EV, the very antithesis of EREV, would become the new standard.  It was easy to claim when nothing was actually happening.  The entire world was watching Tesla, since it only had a few weeks remaining of full tax-credits.  But now as GM is also in the phaseout stage of tax-credits, the situation looks much different.  That heavy investment in Volt technology was for what?  Nothing changed at dealers.  In fact, the dependency on SUV and Pickup sales to sustain the business is becoming a critical liability.  Union strikes are expected as a result when negotiations officially begin next week.  Sound familar?  We saw the same disaster 12 years ago... only this time, the situation looks worse.  Falling back on tradition isn't an option this time.  It's about to get ugly.  That means more spin is inevitable.  What will its focus be?  For now, it's on PHEV becoming the standard for Toyota.  That's a classic diversion tactic.  Pay no attention to GM...  I posted this reality reminder:  Refinement to EV operation is a benefit for both types of vehicle, PHEV and BEV.  That electric technology is interchangeable.  Claims of Toyota not investing is just rhetoric, efforts to divert attention from Toyota's hybrid success to rapidly move away from traditional offerings.  It's that *how to appeal to existing customers* which others have not found a way to address.  As for the other automakers abandoning PHEV itself, that's a cold, hard reality of design choice.  Toyota found a means of delivering very high efficiency for both EV & HV operation at low cost.  A simple look at Volt, you can see GM simply couldn't match.  That technology was expensive and wasted both electricity & gas in comparison.  So, it was abandoned.


Upgrades.  There's a lot more to the upgrade of the infotainment system than people realize.  Aspect ratio of the screen is yet another impact that had been overlooked.  It's a reality that makes the hope of retro-active updates a problem.  Some features simply won't fit.  So, some of the new convenience improvements can't be taken advantage of.  That hardware verses software difference is what being backward-compatable means "it will work, but not entirely".  That isn't all bad though.  Knowing new the design of Android Auto is auto-centric makes it a worthy upgrade.  Phone advocates should take note.  They don't though.  This is why things get overlooked.  Another example is wirelessly connecting.  Did you realize most phones won't get.  That upgrade is still to come.  Having to plug in with a cord each time is easy to dismiss as an inconvenience while arguing online.  But when you get in the car to drive, that's an entirely different matter.

9-09-2019 Discontinued Support.  We get word every now and then about a charging-station having issues.  It is usually because the parking-spot is often abused by people who just plain don't care.  Some are traditional vehicle owners who feel plugging it isn't important.  Some are plug-in owners who feel the same way.  The latter is especially disturbing.  When they park there but don't bother to actually use the charger, it sends a terrible message to everyone.  In every case, we don't get squat for support.  There simply isn't any input from whomever oversees the well-being of the chargers.  Other reports related to support are about vandalism.  I know of several chargers that the handles have been broken in a way that would never happen from actual use.  It's quite obvious someone smashed the latch intentionally.  Sadly, that sometimes ends up becoming news of it getting removed.  The expense of repairing or replacing isn't ever part of the plan.  That's why new of upgrades is on the level of miraculous.  It almost never happens.  Installing more is a rare event as well.  Older charging-stations simply vanish.  Hopefully, that will change... someday.

Advertising Campaign.  We are starting to see both television & online advertisements for the new Prius, specifically the AWD model.  With a refreshed look and that ability to handle snowy conditions better than a typical sedan, there's new opportunity.  The commercial I have seen repeatedly already features a drive on a snow-covered road where the available roof-rack is taken advantage of to transport skiis to a mountain resort.  It's a compelling ability most people probably wouldn't even consider.  Thinking of a Prius as something for recreation like that isn't typical.  Promoting that helps to draw attention to the new look too.  For those who haven't been paying attention, they're a new audience.  Hopefully, it will aid with the redefine of car choices.  Seeing sedan options fade away is rather odd.  But as the RAV4 hybrid continues to confuse messages by becoming a new crown holder for mainstream efficiency by delivering 40 MPG, despite being a big midsize SUV, there's a growing need to highlight what Prius still has to offer.  This is especially important, since Prime is preparing to step into the spotlight.


Get With It!  That demand from a "gotta laugh" comment about the speed at which progress is taking place was yet another one of those individuals not considering the big picture.  It was a continuation of understanding the difference between want & need.  Enthusiasts don't ever really get it.  That's why I had so much difficulty in the past trying to have constructive exchanges.  Their priorities were focused on desire, not necessity.  That interferes the understanding of change and recognizing challenges.  That's why the rush to market can be futile.  Not being properly prepared has consequences, as I try to point out:

How is that different from other legacy automaker schedules?  Mainstream impact is many years away still for all of them.  For that matter, why must progress be measured in any particular manner?  Change of the status quo is still change.  If a compliance offering leads to a for-the-masses offering, great.

Consider the approaches from the non-luxury choices.  GM is well known for "over promise, under deliver".  Volt didn't lead to any actual change, the plug-in hybrid technology was just abandoned.  VW is a lot of talk now, seriously lacking sustainable substance.  Their building of hope seems realistic though.  Most enthusiasts can't stand Toyota's focus on moving their entire fleet forward, rather than focusing on extremes.  But their opinion means little with regard to ordinary consumers.  There's a good outlook from Hyundai/Kia, once they are finally able to increase production.

In other words, debunking myths is just a start.  There is far more to address when it comes to being able to reach showroom shoppers.  Remember, the point is to achieve sales able to compete directly with traditional choices without incentives or subsidies.


Familiar Attacks.  Looking through the long series of posted comments on the August sales article, I found this: "PHEV with less than 20 miles of AER are pure horseshit."  With such a wide audience on that general EV venue now, rather than the daily blog for Volt in the past, there's hope of trolling success with that same old bait.  I'm curious what the results will be now that GM's supposed plan to abandon Volt in favor of Bolt is proving to be yet another "over promise, under deliver" situation.  I combat those efforts with facts.  Today, it was:  Notice how the topic of "kWh/Mi" is rarely ever mentioned and an arbitrary cutoff value is brought up instead?  Seriously.  It is really unfortunate the guzzling of electricity gets a blind-eye but the topic of small capacity gets the spotlight.  Enthusiasts of Volt hated the inconvenient truth of their prized vehicle delivering an EV rating of "31 kWh/100mi" compared to Prius Prime at the much more efficient rate of "25 kWh/100mi".  They'd do everything possible to draw attention away from that to focus on range instead.  Since when is using a lot of electricity less impactful to climate change than a system with EV drive which strives to deliver the most efficient means of electric travel?  Wasting cleaner fuel is still waste.  Most electricity does not come from carbon-free sources anyway.  If an person buys a PHEV with a small-capacity battery but mostly drives within its EV range, how can you criticize that with a profane label?

9-07-2019 Fighting Design.  Problems like this are quite common.  What for key phrases, such as: " can be really helpful."  Drawing a conclusion requires detail to support it.  We didn't see that; instead, it was an inquiry that turned into a debate without substance.  It's surprising how things like that get out of hand.  Newbies fall into that trap.  As well informed forum participants, we do our best to provide insight as to why the conclusion is incorrect.  That happened this week with a question of whether or not owners put an additive in their coolant to reduce temperature.  Having never even encountered such a product, I suspected that was something for people who race or use heavy-duty equipment.  This was my post, with the hope of bring the posts to a close:

Fundamentally flawed assumptions are very much a part of Prius's rich history.  The first of which was that more EV (engine off) driving, the better the efficiency.  That may seem wrong now that there's a plug-in model and faster EV speeds, but back when there as only the regular hybrid, we would routinely see new owners attempting to squeeeeeze out as much EV as possible.  They didn't understand that the gas-engine provided electricity could return higher overall MPG when blended instead.

In this case, the assumption is that more heat is bad. Informed owners know that Toyota went to great lengths to provide a system that generates as much heat as possible as fast as possible.  Heat is necessary for cleansing emissions.  It is also used to warm driver & passengers.  The higher temperature is an essential element of the hybrid system.  Countering that by adding a chemical agent to reduce temperature will fight the very design Toyota strived to deliver.

You may have grown up and been taught that maximum cool is very important.  In fact, that may still be true for older technology.  It is not for the system in Toyota hybrids though.  Acts to override intended configuration will result in a penalty.  With this additive, the system will have to work harder to reach & maintain expected operating temperature, resulting in lower overall efficiency.


Falling Japan Sales.  Nissan Leaf is struggling.  There are a variety of reasons why, especially here.  But over in Japan, influencing factors are uncertain.  So, we're having quite a discussion about that related to August results.  Naturally, the topic grew to include Toyota... and the "falling behind" narrative: "Toyota say BEVs are no good and that fuel cells are the future and unfortunately Japanese consumers buy into that absurdity.  Japan's auto industry will be destroyed in the coming decade as they will be too late to the BEV transition to be able to catch up."  Even the term "BEV" reveals evidence of the push for a specific technology, rather than just embracing EV propulsion in general.  The "B" is for Battery.  And type of on-board generator is looked down upon by purists.  It's really turning into a counter-productive issue.  And since they refuse to even listen, I've given up on the hope for any type of objective response.  So, replies are for the sake of conveying information to lurkers:  Pushing that narrative becomes harder and harder as the rollout of Prius Prime continues.  Even with inventory in the United States limited to just half the regions, growth of demand is undeniable.  When the center and southeast of the country finally gets supply, the plug-in push will finally be underway.  Of course, the announcement back in June about Toyota introducing 10 BEV models in the early 2020's should have put an end to the FUD effort anyway.  That's 6 global models coming bases on the e-TNGA platform.  Those are all-electric vehicles spanning a variety of vehicle types & sizes.  In other words, what you claim Toyota is saying simply isn't true.  If fact, their plug-in aspect resembles the approach VW is taking.  The fact that Toyota is also pursuing fuel-cell vehicles is called product diversity.  They are an automaker not putting all their eggs into a single basket by spreading risk and offering choices.  Lack of patience and the hope readers are not well informed is what some here hope to exploit.


Drawing Conclusions.  When the time is right, you'll know.  Sales don't tell you that.  They only inform you the technology itself is worthy.  That's why the long enough claim is pointless: "The point is that hybrids are *not* "reaching the masses" although they have been on the market far longer than attractive BEVs.  I know more pure BEV drivers than hybrid drivers, and sales speak for themselves.  You would be right if 20, 30, 50% of all cars were hybrids by now.  They were around long enough."  Remember the difference between want & need when drawing conclusions:  Prius Prime isn't even available nationwide yet.  So that vague "reaching the masses" with a generalized "hybrids" claim is pointless.  Reality is, the $27,600 starting MSRP combined with the mid-cycle update rolling out now is that formula for reaching the masses.  Toyota waited until the heavily-dependent-upon tax-credit Volt was no longer a market impediment before even bothering.  It simply made no sense to, knowing GM was only just milking market for conquest sales.  And with an end so predictable (phaseout trigger), it was easy to set the stage in the meantime with the introduction of Corolla hybrid & PHEV along with the upgrade to RAV4 hybrid.  After all, what reason would there have been for rushing to market?


Purists Fighting.  The idea of absolutely no gas consumption is an interesting one.  Those pushing it couldn't care less about how their electricity is generated or how efficient their electricity consumption actually is.  They just try to demonize all vehicles that having anything more than just a battery for supplying power.  Stuff like this is really starting to stand out: "You still contribute to accelerating global warming.  So you do make a difference for the worse.  That is the inconvenient truth about hybrids.  They are not zero emission and that is the problem."  It's becoming a real problem for those simply trying to end the reign of traditional guzzlers.  The idea of transition is unacceptable.  The discussion of electricity source is unwelcome.  They only support EV purchases, period.  I keep my responses to them brief & bitter:  That short-sighted attitude is how efforts are lost.


Real Impact.  This was interesting: "Get ready for year-over-year monthly declines until something changes.  The 2020 Bolt EV will help a bit, but both GM and Tesla are going to struggle to really make an impact unless their full Federal Tax Credits are restored.  Outside of the Bolt EV and Model 3, the only really compelling EVs are either too expensive or too limited in availability to see high-volume sales."  Notice how far we have come away from canniblize comments?  That concern of automaker choices competing amongst themselves was given up so long ago, most people have forgotten that was actually the point.  It wasn't conquest.  Group-Think has become so bad, they have completely lost touch with goals.  This is why I was so hard on Volt enthusiasts, asking for that very think.  Clearly state what the objective is.  You wouldn't expect such a constructive request could erupt into a personal attack.  I just wanted to know why the design was being promoted.  What was it to achieve?  Ugh.  Having no clue anymore what it means to make a real impact, you don't stand a chance of moving forward.  Which direction is that?  In other words, where do you want the technology to take you?  They obviously don't know.  Efforts to scope a points has obscured what the race is all about.  I keep trying to get them back on track with the reminders:  To make a "real" impact, sales cannot be subsidized.  It's all about changing the status quo, which means competing directly with vehicles people find on the showroom floor.  We're stuck in the early-adopter stage until that happens.  Realistically, if there are new tax-credits, they should instead be used for installs/upgrades to where people park overnight.  Once a household/apartment gets a that 240-volt connection, purchasing something with a plug or something with more capacity is a no-brainer.


Soon.  The wait is almost over.  Sales results for August will be posted tomorrow.  It will the first month when the mid-cycle update to Prime was actually available.  Though limited to those initial rollout markets still, it's the step forward everyone recognizes as an obvious improvement.  Toyota's stance within the affordable-for-all category is becoming very difficult to deny.  This comes at the same time as GM is about to face another 50% reduction of tax-credits due to the next stage of phaseout being reached.  That puts them in a position where attracting loyal customers to Bolt is basically impossible.  Their hope-for-the-best strategy is beyond excuses.  It failed, miserably... which begs the question... will Toyota finally get recognized for perseverance of patience?  Rather than give in to conquest like GM did, it was a matter of refining technology and holding back ramp-up until it could reach the right audience.  There's no way to argue Prius doesn't target Toyota's own loyal customers.  But now that enthusiasts see Corolla PHV doing the same thing and the potential RAV4 PHV could have, it's time to move on.  The trophy fight is over.  Only early-adopters cared about the supposed "leadership" within the stage of subsidized sales.  Very soon is when the true race begins, the one to win the hearts of ordinary consumers in the form of actual change to the status quo... when we witness plug-in offerings replacing traditional offerings.  When that inventory on the dealers lot begins to embrace change, clearly moving beyond just being a niche, we can call it a successful next step.  The first big moment in that next stage is about to happen... very soon.


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