Personal Log  #978

November 16, 2019  -  November 20, 2019

Last Updated:  Mon. 2/10/2020

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Phaseout.  Discussion of tax-credits immediately dominated the posts: "That's the thing with the tax credit advantage, pretty much as soon as an automaker who has been participating at all starts selling big numbers, it'll be going away quickly."  It was interesting to see what is supposedly a well-informed group reveal they really don't have a clue.  Several made comments that were just plain wrong.  None even attempted to touch GM either.  That topic has obviously become taboo.  The mess with Volt has become such a monumental failure example, everyone is pretending it didn't happen.  They don't want any association with it, in any manner.  So, I didn't even bother with a reference.  Those who had once whole-heartedly endorsed GM's approach will remain silent from now on anyway.  So, this is how I replied:  That isn't how it works.  Once the automaker hits the 200,000 mark, phaseout begins.  That phaseout stage switches from a fixed quantity to unlimited.  Tesla took advantage of that with Model 3, which has worked out remarkably well.  Notice the timing of the volume increase.  Toyota will do the same.


First Impressions.  Quite curious what others had to say, I kept the post about my first impressions short:  Both cost & efficiency are often dismissed an unimportant.  We learned all too well that the focus on power & range blinded most online participants into a group-think that was ultimately tragic for Volt and its associated technology.  Toyota's strategy is proving a wise approach for fleet deployment (product diversity, not commercial sales) and dealer acceptance... both of vital importance for reaching beyond the early-adopter market. It's how profitable, mainstream volume is achieved.


RAV4 Prime.  What more needs to be said?  The name speaks for itself.  That long-awaited reveal didn't disappoint.  There will indeed be a plug-in hybrid model of RAV4.  It will be rolled out this coming Summer, just 7 or 8 months from now most likely.  It's the fastest and most powerful configuration anyone could realistically imagine.  Toyota clearly did its homework.  The configuration looks impressive.  Loaded with safety features and AWD standard, the expectation of high demand is an easy prediction.  The detail specification shared that really stand out is 302-horsepower and 0-60 in 5.8 seconds. along with 39 miles of battery range.  From an efficiency perspective, the listed 90 MPGe is one to ponder.  People still have no clue what that equivalency-rating really means.  But then again, this audience won't really care anyway.  The fact that it will deliver daily commutes that are all-electric for most people is all the more that needs to be conveyed about the technology.  Detail isn't a priority for this audience.  If it was, all those cost-per-mile and cost-of-ownership reports would have prevented them from purchasing any type of SUV.  This is a hybrid with a plug from an automaker with strong reputation for quality.  Enough said.


Gaming the System.  Toyota's perspective is regulations have unintended consequences.  We have witnessed automakers gaming the system rather than actually changing.  They exploit opportunity for short-term gain.  It's that simple.  Legacy automakers have much to lose.  It takes a monumental amount of effort to bring about anything that could cuts into profit.  Fear is a major deterrent.  So, they look for a means of delivering something seemingly worthy instead.  That's why Volt was problematic right from the start.  In fact, that's how the "vaporware" claims came about.  Even if all of those overly ambitious criteria could be achieved in that short amount of time, there was no next step.  Things would simply fall apart following that without any clear plan of succession.  Think of it from a "diet" analogy.  Sure, you could meet your weight goal, but could that be maintained afterward?  And was whatever you did to achieve it healthy?  Affordable?  Repeatable?  When stuff like that is not considered upon setting the goal, you know you're doomed.  GM was destined to fail.  The plan wasn't comprehensive.  They were given the chance to game the system... again.  Toyota doesn't want to allow such history to repeat, even if it means some bad public-relations spin as a result.  Overall, it simply isn't worth it.

11-18-2019 UDDS Detail.  The characteristics of the UDDS rating are:

  - Distance traveled: 11.04 miles
  - Duration: 31.233 minutes
  - Average speed: 21.2 mph

It's the "city" driving cycle, which we know Prius handles exceptionally well.  That's what is important when addressing emissions from heavily congested traffic... which is a priority for California... hence the focus.


Outright Lies.  I saw this attack unfolding: "A 25 mile range (in real life 15-20 at best) is a joke.  Just who are they trying to fool?  It's a hybrid 99% of the time.  That's why the Volt was a great PHEV (60 mile EV range)."  There were so many things wrong with that claim, I had to think about what to comment.  Posting any sort of detail with someone how just plain does not care really isn't helpful.  They'll just spin facts and make anything that follows about you.  That evade & distract is so annoying... and still quite common.  Keeping replies brief and with a callout to raise awareness is my suggestion.  For example:  Blatant efforts to greenwash like that are fascinating.  They are so easy to disprove; yet, attempts are made anyway.  Why?  Look no further than Prius Prime.  With its 25-mile rating, seeing low 30's in the summer is quite common.  And that's all-electric until battery depletion, even if you drop the pedal to the floor.

11-17-2019 SUV Obsession.  The upcoming reveal from Toyota has brought about an extremely uncomfortable situation for antagonists.  There quite literally have nothing left.  Every single argument has been exhausted.  Toyota is now about to do what I complained for years about that GM should do.  Anticipation for very high demand confirms I was correct.  Even before getting any detail, they know GM failed to follow through.  Two-Mode, to gen-1 Volt, to gen-2 Volt never resulted in a plug-in SUV, exactly what the obsessed audience here craves.  It's such a monumental mistake on GM's part, there's not a word to say about it.  This is much like VW's diesel failure.  The outcome was inevitable.  They were pursuing a course that simply made no sense.  Anywho, this is what I posted, with the expectation of now backlash:

Who is the market for Volt?  That question asked hundreds of times to Volt enthusiasts in the past was for the very reason brought up here... rising demand for SUVs.  It simply made no sense watching GM waste tax-credits on conquest sales, leaving nothing for their own loyal customers.  Showroom shoppers were getting hosed and no one seemed to care.  Equinox got diesel instead of Volt technology.  It was absurd.  Then came the new Trax SUV.  It didn't get technology from Volt either.  Following that was the new Blazer.  Same disinterest toward diversification.  So when Volt died, all that effort to blend motor & engine did too.  GM just abandoned what they had supposedly strived to deliver.  It's really unfortunate GM didn't throw their support behind electrification of their primary product, finally.  After all, Two-Mode (the predecessor to Volt technology) had a prototype plug-in an entire decade ago.  Saturn Vue was supposed to be the premiere vehicle. It was a SUV.

The real problem isn't the technology, it's the money.  New technology delivers razor-thin profit, if any.  And once GM opens that can of worms, it's going to be a self-inflicted disaster.  By avoiding change so much, basically supporting their own dealers' resistance, the automaker has set itself up for the Osborne Effect.  Making it worse, GM no longer has cars to help leverage sales or efficiency quotas.  All bets have been placed on the SUV as the offering for ordinary showroom shoppers... none of which are green.

In just 3 days, we will see how that could have been avoided.  Toyota's RAV4 AWD hybrid starts at a MSRP of $28,100 and delivers 40 MPG.  That in itself directly addresses the topic of this article.  40 MPG is a rather substantial efficiency gain over GM's Equinox AWD (1.5 L, 4 cyl) delivering just 27 MPG.  Heck, even the smaller GM Trax FWD delivers only 28 MPG.  So when the reveal comes this Wednesday, providing detail about the upcoming plug-in hybrid model of RAV4, it's not like Toyota will fall into the same trap as GM.

To think, all those posts about how desperately behind Toyota supposedly is.  Then as if overnight, there will be excitement among ordinary consumers upon discovering they won't have to give up driving an SUV.  They'll just have to upgrade to a hybrid or plug-in hybrid.


UDDS.  That stands for "Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule".  No one is even noticing that qualifier, which is a pretty solid confirmation of not understanding the significance.  In plain english, that's the "city" test.  In other words, panic about Prius Prime not qualifying for the new California rebate program starting next month is inevitable.  People see the "35 mile" criteria and just assume that means the overall EPA estimate.  The purpose of such a requirement is to help mitigate emissions related to stop & slow traffic... city driving, not anything to do with the results you get while cruising at high speeds.  Ugh.  This means, we must explicitly point out that Prius Prime does indeed achieve that expected EV distance in driving conditions related to those the rebate is designed to specifically address.  It's yet another one of those poorly-informed-consumer situations there really isn't a good way to teach about ahead of time.  Many haven't ever even noticed there are several measurement categories for efficiency... as hybrids clearly provided evidence for.  Heck, there are many who really don't know much about the impact of seasonal changes.  So, the influence of speed not being observed is no surprise.  Needless to say, it's reasonable to expect a surge of last-minute purchases as month-end approaches.  That will certainly add to the confusion of sales results, especially with this next reporting to come at year-end.


Preheat What?  That question absolutely had to be asked after reading this: "I remember reading that you can't plug in a Prime for charging and then use that power to preheat the gas engine once the battery is full."  I following through with:  Since EV driving can far outlast engine coolant, that would be a pointless feature.  Engine block heating comes from a separate plug anyway. In other words, check your source.  Something clearly isn't right with that claim.  You can preheat the cabin (aka: "pre-conditioning") any time you want, regardless of battery level.  Without being plugged in, it will draw directly from the battery.  And yes, it will dip into HV capacity if called upon.  While plugged into 240-volt, it will do a combination of rapid pull from the wall, a little bit of battery, then pull from the wall again.  That basically warms up everything using the heat-pump.  There is also the battery-warmer.  I'm not actually sure if that operates without being plugged in.  But it certainly does work when you are.  With temperatures below 0°F parked outside without any protection, mine was kept at a comfortable 39°F last year.  That's what the lithium chemistry needs to operate more efficiently.  Below freezing, electrical resistance increases quite a bit.


Constructive Questions.  It's really nice to see them from time to time.  I suspect they will increase fairly soon with this new audience about to come in as a result of the PHEV model of RAV4 reveal.  That will definitely stir inquisitive minds.  Until then, we get stuff like: "I still don't understand why auto journalists keep quoting the electric-only range.  In real world driving, isn’t it very unlikely you would ever be driving in electric-only mode, since you'd have about half the total combined engine power available to you?  What am I missing here?"  Knowing audience, I suspect the RAV4 will provide quite a bit more power.  After all, 3 years have passed since rollout of Prius Prime became a reality.  A lot has been invested in the technology since then.  Anywho, this is what I posted as a constructive answer:  That's because the reality of the situation is you don't need that much power.  Sure, a writer catering to enthusiasts will try to convince you otherwise, but not a true journalist.  My PHEV provides 68 kW of electric draw from its battery-pack.  That's 91 hp, which gives the impression on paper of being inadequate.  But when actually in real-world driving, that's enough.  In fact, it's plenty for driving around in the suburbs.  Even highway merging doesn't require more power.  It's there if I need it, but I find that I don't.  Driving without starting the engine isn't a big deal.


New Tech.  A new technology isn't new forever.  Some forget that reality: "Those people who buy based on trust aren't going to "risk" buying some new-fangled technology.  They will buy a gas-powered Corolla or Camry."  Think about how little the typical showroom shopper knows about how any of those vehicles they are looking at actually operate anyway.  For that matter, the better informed usually don't either.  At best, they have a general understanding.  That's easy to deduce too.  Just consider what those seeking information ask about.  I encounter that on a regular basis.  It's a good reminder of how much work still needs to be done to educate.  Much wisdom needs to be shared from those experiencing a plug-in everyday.  Put short, I responded with:  RAV4 hybrid is proving that claim outdated.  A few years from now, it will be reasonable for the model with a plug too.  That's the point of bringing the entire fleet forward... the tech won't be thought of as "new" forever.


Irony.  Sadly, EV advocates don't advocate as much as they could.  Time & Resources are wasted on anti-hydrogen efforts.  This particular group-think pile-on really brought that point home: "The irony is 4 Teslas in ~20 minutes would be a similar throughput of 4 hydrogen cars fueled over ~20 minutes."  It was nice seeing something sensible posted.  I jumped into the crazy with:  Adding to that is the irony of megawatt EV charging stations may very well end up with hydrogen sourced fuel-cells to supplement electricity during times of high demand.  Of course, it doesn't matter.  The shipping industry is looking into hydrogen to replace diesel.  So whether or not passenger vehicles use it is a moot point.  Realistically, it doesn't matter anyway.  Starting with cars is far less expensive than commercial vehicles, which is really the primary target.  EV enthusiasts simply feel threatened by the multi-fuel solutions.  Ugh.  It's somewhat amusing to foresee hydrogen being used for green storage later too, since the grid can't hold all of it.


Getting Caught.  I didn't expect my response to this to get a forgot-to-mention so quickly: "a lot of people who like toyota quality say they want a toyota bev. but if toyota actually made one, i doubt it would sell much better than bolt or leaf"  Knowing my audience, I was well aware what actually happened is he got caught attempting to downplay.  Simple realities, like cost, are often dismissed by this particular individual.  That's why the spin of his claimed intent of that comment, after I posted mine, took place.  He said he meant "today", but the absence of "had" and "have" in the post don't support that.  Both the tense & context being wrong confirms I was right for having posted what I did.  Also, he's been warned about being so incredibly vague, hence:  There's no sound basis for drawing that conclusion.  Leaf's audience has moved on due to the constraints of not having any type of active cooling system.  Bolt's audience was nothing but conquest sales, never appealing to GM shoppers and heavily dependent upon tax-credits.  In other words, both were rush-to-market approaches... the complete opposite of Toyota.  Toyota will have the benefit of extensive real-world experience prior to rollout here.  The variety of PHEV offerings and 2 likely EV models (CH-R and a Lexus) will provide a means of accurately targeting the masses... a goal well worth taking time to achieve.  We have infrastructure upgrades happening in the meantime.  Heck, just being able to accept a 100 kW charge-rate would be enough completely negate any type of comparison.  This is what the big picture consideration is all about.  Claims of "catch up" simply make no sense when others are not there either.  For that matter, boycotts are often pointless for the same reason.  Think about all the broken promises of the past and how many rollouts fell well short of their goals.


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