Personal Log #970
October 5, 2019 - October 10, 2019
Last Updated: Mon. 2/10/2020
page #969 page #971 BOOK INDEX
Only Reason. This is why most enthusiasts never break out beyond their niche: "The only reason so many PHEV owners stick with 110v charging is because they almost all only have a 3.6 kW charger. And while an L2 charger cuts the charging time in half, they can usually still charge fully on 110 in under 6 hours." That's the look backward perspective, refusing to acknowledge early-adopter rollout is quite different from what finally makes it to mainstream audiences. In fact, that's exactly why Prius Prime is still only available in established markets. It makes no sense rushing, when you know change is coming anyway.,, for example, faster L2 charging. He further went on to claim: "And by the time this (RAV4 PHEV) hits the streets, the VW ID.4 will be available with respectable EV range and likely not much more money than this, especially with the federal tax-credit (assuming it's still available a year from now)." Again, that's not looking forward. Tax-Credits are limited to 200,000 per automaker. How many does VW have remaining and how many ID vehicles are they expected to sell annually? That rose-colored view of the upcoming world isn't realistic. I was happy to point out why: That outlook of the immediate future is far too optimistic, based on enthusiast perspective. Focus on what will actually work for the masses. It takes time to ramp up production and to get infrastructure in place. Toyota sees the right-time, right-place opportunity. That "only reason" is weak at best, and depends upon outdated & incorrect information. L2 chargers on a 40-amp line are quickly becoming the standard. That delivers a solid 7.2 kW charging rate, perfect for 8-hour overnight recharges... which deliver 200 miles of EV. So what if the first plug-in for the household doesn't exploit that full potential. It immediately an EV experience for the daily commute, representing a dramatic reduction of emissions & consumption, as well as encourages upgrades. With over 16 MILLION annual sales in the United States alone, it makes sense to target the masses... who are overwhelmingly in favor of a large vehicle like RAV4. Seeing a choice like that delivering 25-30 miles of EV represents a huge step forward. It will be a big rattle to the status quo without actually requiring much from either consumer or dealer. btw, how big of an impact do you really expect ID.4 to actually have? VW is less than 1/5th the size of big automakers here in the United States (GM, Ford, and Toyota).
Smug. More telling statements: "Woo Hoo. Toyota has finally introduced the 2011 RAV 4 to compete with the Gen 1 Chevy Volt." That came from a new discussion topic about range expectations from the upcoming RAV4 plug-in hybrid. Some people never learn from mistakes. It's the same old nonsense. They obsess with a single trait and sacrifice all else for the glory it brings. That's the trophy mentality I pointed out potential serious barrier way back when Volt was first announced. Just a few months after the initial reveal, the bragging started. It made no sense. There was nothing of any merit to support such an attitude. Without any substance, the "vastly superior" mantra emerged. It was futile, of course. But that fate would take well over a decade to happen. Why would range alone be the determination of success or failure? I pointed out what should be obvious at this point. Clearly, it is not. A few still see the need to pound their chest in hallow victory, as I continued to deal with: Volt failed because it targeted enthusiasts, those who were more than willing to take advantage of the tax-credit opportunity for short-term enjoyment of range & power in a small vehicle that would never appeal to the masses. Seriously. It was doomed from the start. The technology itself was a different story. Born from the Two-Mode Plug-In we were promised a decade ago, it should evolved to the very thing Toyota is preparing to rollout. Think about how popular the affordable 40 MPG hybrid RAV4 already is. Think about how Toyota is planning to build it locally, using that large plant in Kentucky. Think about how easy it is to add a plug and larger battery to offer a PHV model. RAV4 PHV will be able to compete directly on the dealer's showroom floor without any subsidies, just good old fashion shopper appeal. Smug all you want about Volt, but that is something it never achieved.
New Warranty. This announcement today is quite significant: "Toyota is extending its hybrid battery warranty from 8 years/100,000 miles to 10 years/150,000 miles. The new warranty will apply to Toyota's entire 2020 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fuel-cell lineup." It's a profound step forward, directly addressing the biggest concern people have about anything with a battery-pack. Naturally, there was an immediate backlash to such an endorsement for their product. Spin is inevitable, but this time was remarkably quick and very easy to debunk. The claim was that Toyota has become so desperate to save rescue hybrid sales from their supposed downfall that they are extending warranties to retain customer confidence. I found it quite telling. That duration is the coverage all automakers were required to provide for ZEV ratings for many years now. It was a fundamental qualification often overlooked. With 20 years of history, what evidence is there that customer confidence was fading? We're just seeing ordinary market change, where there's a shift to a more preferred type of vehicle. In this case, it's the SUV... of which the hybrid market was pretty small in the first place. But now that it is growing, that means reaching out to an entirely new audience... one that simply has more concerns.
RAV4 PHEV. We got a tease from Toyota today.
There will be a 2021 PHEV model of RAV4 coming next year. That's
right on schedule, taking full advantage of the void GM is leaving behind
and racing to get in front of Ford's PHEV debut. Of course, I'm most
curious if it will be labeled as PHV or will carry the "Prime"
naming... since my history intertwines with such a choice. But I
digress. :) This new model will be the most powerful offered.
That's intriguing. Highlights will be "spirited acceleration,
nimble handling and impeccable style". It will also bring the
Supersonic Red color to RAV4. Nothing else was shared. It really
was just a tease. Fortunately, we got a specific date to focus on.
It will during the Los
Angeles Auto Show media days, on November 20, 2019. The expansion of
choices is what will shake the industry. Having both a car & crossover
offering incredible efficiency for an affordable price is what everyone has
been waiting for, especially dealers. They'll be happy to carry Prius
Prime when RAV4 with a plug becomes a draw. It's a very strong
endorsement for the technology. That's the forward looking support
they have wanted before taking the plunge. Investing resources in
selling a niche is quite a risk, hence neither Volt nor Bolt actually
changing anything at dealers. This coming from Toyota is quite
different. You could easily see level-2 chargers getting installed for
test-drive opportunities. When you have a top-selling vehicle stirring
interest to plugging in, there's a lot of potential.
Process. There are some who simply aren't aware of
what it really takes to deliver something in high-volume, with sustainable &
profitable sales. So, pretty much no matter what you post, they'll
argue with it. Not fitting their expectations of process means they
are woefully behind, to that. This provided interesting insight to
that conundrum: "They need to be a lot further along in the process than a
concept car." Believing there is only one path to success is a
very real problem. This is why I clash with enthusiasts. For
that matter, it's why I end up arguing with those who believe new technology
must always come from expensive vehicles. It's bizarre how they
dismiss Prius, which has been amazingly successful and was always
affordable... despite often being the vehicle which Toyota's technology
debuted on. Anywho, that expectation of a specific step-by-step to be
follow is madness. Talking about stifling innovation. You want
inspiration & experimentation to come from any source in any manner.
Creativity can not be forced in a specific manner. Ugh. Each
refinement or replacement leads to a greater outcome, regardless of how it
is achieved. It's one of those face-palm moments: There is no "process" to follow, only a set of
components to develop & refine. For Toyota, they already have motor,
controller, heat-pump, battery-chemistry, software, charging, etc. well
refined. The only thing left is a variety of packages to put that tech into.
Awesome! Every now and then, you encounter someone that's naive and the situation has a very positive outcome. That typically comes from simply not paying attention, where they really don't have any opinion because they weren't in the market. You really don't lose hope or become disenchanted when you aren't in the game anyway. If you're not shopping for a vehicle and have no plans to anytime soon, something a surprise like this happens: "2020 Prius has a 3rd seat? Awesome!" That came from a current Prius owner who is perfectly content with it. The impression I got was when the time comes years from now to shop for a replacement, he'll just compare what's available then. It's the go-with-the-flow approach. That's the same thing we see now with computers. When something new is always around the corner, you don't bother to get involved in the market until the time comes to make a purchase. Enthusiasts don't really understand that audience... which is why they have such difficult time recognizing why "Who?" matters... which is why I appreciate the sentiment of awesome. That was a great comment to read.
Naive Comments. Stuff like this is sad to read: "I would like the 50 miles like the Volt." They simply have no idea what that actually means. It seems reasonable. The reality of the technology verses business is a harsh one though. There are very real tradeoffs to address. Most people are totally unaware of what they are. So, we get comments like that without any good outcome. They either just abandon hope or become disenchanted. Lack of information will do that. Enthusiasts spreading hype make it challenging to deal with. That means keeping replies to such comments brief: That large battery contributed to Volt being discontinued. It added too much to the cost, reduced both EV & HV efficiency, and prevented rear middle seating.
Moving the Needle. This is that boil-the-frog situation again, but now with plugs: "Gas is too cheap to move the needle for PHEVs IMHO. If you want to go clean then BEV is the only way to go. If you don't care about that, then the savings just aren't enough for people to care about switching. If gas was $5 a gallon I think we'd see adoption increase rapidly." No matter what economic pressure there is, that's never quite enough for things to actually play out. So, enthusiasts make excuses by raising the bar. It's a big problem for the top-down approach. Fortunately, bottom-up doesn't have that issue. So, his IMHO is basically worthless. Opinions change. Facts do not, which I pointed out: History has already proven that seemingly realistic IMHO still unable to deliver. A decade ago when gas was over $4 per gallon, the needle really didn't move for anything with a plug. Along the way, we have learned how much tax-credits helped established EV presence... but has yet to claim an audience beyond those who would purchase something green anyway. It's all about reaching beyond that audience. Hybrids taught use that formula for success. The ones that stir interest from those who couldn't care less about green have a price directly competitive traditional vehicles. The most obvious sensation is the RAV4 hybrid. That large of an AWD vehicle delivering 40 MPG for a price well within the price shoppers would be willing to pay anyway... $27,850. Regardless of what the price of gas is, watching that hybrid become a plug-in hybrid will capture the imagination of ordinary consumers. They'll be able to purchase something with a plug that can deliver an all-electric commute. So what if they have to plug in for more EV range? It requires special effort. Just plug into a standard 120-volt outlet overnight. That's all. As much as we all desire BEV, it just plain is not realistic for the masses... yet. Only a single generation away is not a long time to wait anyway. Everyone can enjoy some EV driving in the meantime, while also moving that needle. Think about the contribution PHEV will do to help rapidly wind down traditional vehicle production, in addition to helping promote L2 upgrades at home. BEV will happen, just not yet for the masses. So, don't overlook the tech capable of providing a convenient bridge for accelerating mainstream acceptance.
2020 Update. The category for PHEV is rather screwy right now, very much in a state of transition. Toyota has worked to steer clear of the tax-credit entanglement GM caused for itself. That meant waiting for Prius Prime's nationwide rollout to include the mid-cycle update. Fortunately, it ended up working out rather nice. The final stage of phaseout was triggered for GM last week and Volt is down to just 300 remaining unsold. That basically puts the 2020 right on schedule for 2020. In other words, marketshare growth is realistic. We can expect more over time too. Toyota's recent announcement to begin using their big Kentucky production plant for building RAV4 hybrid sets the stage nicely for a PHEV model of RAV4 to follow.
Lost Everything. GM didn't try. I raised alarms to the point where no one wanted to deal with me anymore. Opportunity was being wasted and they just plain did not care. Some still don't, hence this comment today: "And while the Volt is a PHEV, it is definitely the best PHEV ever made." It was more damage-control from an enthusiast. Knowing the EREV concept has been exposed as meaningless propaganda, the lack of any substance to work with means pretending nothing is wrong. Ugh. I punched back with: Best PHEV ever made, for enthusiasts, is the most concise manner of identifying Volt. That's pretty much a universal sentiment, which I agree with. It's easy to understand why GM didn't carry it forward to the SUV platform though, as they had intended back with the first generation design (that Saturn Vue plug-in Two-Mode). Plans carried forward still put too much emphasis on range & power, making it a very expensive approach. Nonetheless, it's easy to see how popular a Trax, Blazer, or Equinox with that tech could have been despite the challenge of price & efficiency. What did GM have to lose from trying? They pretty much lost everything from not.
Personal Gain. This was
fascinating to read: "He's so deep in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry,
he's literally sacrificing the planet's future for personal political gain.
He pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and froze fuel economy
standards the Obama-Biden administration put in place for cars, and he's
preventing California from implementing its own higher standards."
That op-ed from our former vice-president certainly summed up the situation
well. What an incredible mess. It is what happens when people
get lazy & complacent. They allow corruption to works its way in.
Left uncheck... which is what happens when barriers are removed... it
becomes a situation which causes damage. In this case, we see a
president who just plain does not care and voters who really don't
understand the impact that could have. This is why I so often asked
the "Who?" question of the Volt enthusiasts. They claimed to
be in support of mainstream consumers, but their actions clearly were not
for that audience. It was a very clear conflict they absolutely
refused to acknowledge. They'd just pretend all was ok and found
enablers to provide validation. Look what became of that. GM has
basically nothing to show for all that. Over a decade later, their
dealers look even worse off. Not only is it nearly impossible to find
a hybrid or plug-in, there are far more guzzlers than in the past.
Cars are getting phased out in favor of lower efficiency vehicles. How
is that resulting lack of choice not a sacrifice?
Having a hatchback is great. You can squeeze in a surprising amount of
cargo. It will carry rather high & wide objects too. But when
all 3 dimensions come into play, it can be a tight squeeze. For us,
that meant trying to figure out how to also deal with it being deep too.
Unlike the chairs, table, lawn mower, power washer, plants, coolers, lumber,
and other objects I transported this summer, this one needed to fit without
any ability to be wiggled in. One massive piece makes it harder.
To my relief, the larger cat tree (4 levels with a tunnel in the middle)
actually fit. The lift & twist maneuver presented doubts. But
that worked. We have officially been able to carry everything needed
inside just fine. The craziest cargo transport is still the queen size
bed. It was the air type. All those pieces of the frame, the
shell, the pump, as well as the pads and inflatable chambers needed to
be carried in a single trip. 2 people on a 2-hour trip with all that
inside ended up working worked fine. We even brought the coffeemaker
and a few other things for the move. People are happy. Cats are