Personal Log  #988

January 25, 2020  -  February 1, 2020

Last Updated:  Weds. 3/25/2020

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Lowering The Bar.  Watching the absurdity of the presidential defense scramble to spin a narrative to defend acts clearly not of the high moral ground we expect is evidence of a decline.  We've lowered the bar so much, the president is no longer someone to look up to.  Statements like "rising above that" can be taken with their obvious parallel to height.  Standards fell with the campaigning.  He simply didn't care.  Whatever it took to gain the upper-hand.  It was sad to witness.  Now as our supposed "leader", we are being led to a lower position in world standing.  Respect is dropping.  Credibility is falling.  It's now easier to see the bottom than the top.  Sound familiar?  That same thing is what I watched play out with the EREV nonsense.  That was supposedly a "vastly superior" technology.  There was no substance to actually support the claims though.  It was all shallow & limited observations used to portray that false narrative.  Sales were never impressive.  Change wasn't actually happening.  It was just low-hanging fruit, short-term gain sacrificing long-term well being.  That's exactly what we are seeing play out in the political scene.  Like the automotive market, there are far more elements at play.  The attorneys are just like the enthusiasts, formulating a perspective to support their win rather than actually addressing issues of integrity.  Grrrr!


In Good Faith.  I watched an example of social change play out entirely, from its origin to its demise, with Volt.  Enthusiasts made excuse after excuse to justify the unjustifiable.  This can happen at any scale.  You can witness communities change.  In our case today, we all saw it playing recently on the national level.  Rather than just stepping up with sincere & honest intent, there was always a competition to win the moment.  It has become about declaring individual battle a victory, rather than focusing on goals.  The very idea of simply doing something in good faith is gone.  Witnessing such an attitude of short-term gain importance without concern for what happens next taught me so much about what to expect from other disciplines.  Evidence of that hinting at how our political crisis would end up playing out was easy to see as a result.  It was the same old cherry-picking, obvious efforts to spin a narrative, rather than seek out the truth.  Some truly only care about surviving the moment.  Showing some trust that losing this one battle would not mean the end of everything they know & love wasn't an option in their mind.  It was fight, fight, fight, fight without any real meaning or purpose.  As with our clearly dishonest & selfish president, direction is lost.  The society becomes polarized and the mindset one of absolutes.  Looking at wins & losses as an equation is unheard of.  There's no effort to move forward, only immediate zero-sum outcome.  It was inevitable we get to the point.  The problem supersedes any particular leader.  That's why removal of the president only reduces damage.  It doesn't actually provide a cure.  We'll see evidence confirming the current "win" in Congress really was an overall loss.  They made a sacrifice for a momentary victory.  Dismissing what was presented so far, rather taking the chance there was more still to find, is that blind-eye I complained about so often with Volt enthusiasts.  They simply didn't care what came nice.  Their choice was "vastly superior" and that's all that mattered.  Look what that got them.  Ugh.


Tough Sale.  That says it all.  It was the sentiment being passed around today.  This next stage of sales... reaching out to ordinary consumers... is going to be far more difficult than the enthusiasts were ever willing to acknowledge.  But now, they have to.  Not only is that early niche market saturated now, the choices are becoming confusing.  Whatever the heck an EREV supposedly was in the past, it is meaningless now.  That obscure & uncertain difference carries no weight anymore.  This audience simply doesn't care.  Appealing to showroom shoppers means identifying with the most basic of priorities.  Things like affordability are far more important than those anagonists of years ago ever imagined.  They could never see beyond the tax-credits.  So, having to finally acknowledge just how expense their favored choice really is doesn't work.  That's why so many of the rats abandoned ship.  Those still hoping for the journey to be rewarding are left to wonder: "How?"  It's the question beginning to draw attention... since the "Who?" is now undeniable.  The market must expand, significantly.  That means reaching out to an entirely new group of potential customers... which is why we see RAV4 Prime on the way.  Although it still could be a challenge initially, the tough part should be easier to overcome simply because the hybrid model is already so popular and Prius Prime is proving to be an effective means of demonstrating how well thought out the technology is.


Filming Drive Videos.  I have been asked how my progressively improving quality is achieved.  When it finally gets warm out (Spring seems so far away still), I'll take the time to show what I actually do.  Only recently having reached my own goals, it was a moving target not worth the effort yet.  I want to share simple solutions.  It's amazing how much work it takes to find the "easy" method.  Fortunately, I enjoy the discovery process.  Who knew so many videos making the cut, good enough to publish, would really just be practice until now.  I certainly have plenty of opportunity.  The new computer and new software has brought about new excitement.  I can use that previous experience to create better quality content, complete with informative commentary.  That's more than many hobbies provide in return for countless years of effort.  I have something to share & inspire with.  Sweet!  For the moment, it's just a listing of hardware.  In a few months, I'll follow up with the other detail... like photos.  Right now, it's too cold for that.  I have a hard enough time coordinating the videos.  Lots must happen and I'm quite familiar with the situations when something goes wrong... hence the quest for simple.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, here's that list:  GoPro 7 for the dashboard, capturing video in HD.  GoPro 8 for the window, capturing video in 4K.  Android S5e for the OBD-II data, capturing video in QHD.


Patterns.  It isn't surprising that most people don't see the pattern of repeated mistakes.  Not being attentive long enough to notice the same thing happening again should be an obvious problem.  People have other important things in their lives to tend to.  That's totally understandable.  But when a few fight back, absolutely insisting there is no pattern, you have to wonder.  Why are they pushing back?  There is something they fear related to change.  Repetition confirms a strong possibility of the same outcome.  Yet, they hope for a miracle to break the pattern.  It would be nice to find out what is the true source compelling them to resist.  Just like we are seeing play out with the political situation, their dishonesty will eventually have consequences.  Despite that, they try to continue without accountability.  It's bizarre to witness such destructive behavior.  Go down fighting instead of accepting defeat.  Watching others witness this payout is an added level of intrigue.  Will they notice the pattern too?  I expressed my inquisitiveness this way:  GM's reputation for "over promise, under deliver" was well established by the time they had revealed the Volt concept, way back in early 2007.  At that point, Two-Mode was already proving a disaster and they desperately needed a distraction.  Fast forward a decade, we witnessed that with Bolt following the disastrous upgrade for Volt.  And now that Bolt has fallen that same pit of the forgotten, they need yet another distraction to build up hype without substance... yet again.  It's a repeating trap enthusiasts continue to fall into, despite the obvious pattern.  Ugh.


Never True.  It's always a pain getting told what you believe.  Getting beyond that stereotype others see is challenging, but it can be done.  Somehow just need to get them to take a little time to listen, rather than assume.  That mean choosing words carefully so the chance to do that isn't spoiled.  Unfortunately, the same doesn't work for automakers.  That's why I was basically doomed when it came to the Volt enthusiasts.  They had certain assumptions about Toyota and transposed them over to me, assuming I'd see GM the same way.  I didn't, but their efforts to make excuses for everything rather than addressing the actual issue... which is exactly what we've have been witnessing with the impeachment trail... makes that impossible.  There isn't any interest in determining intent or agreeing upon limits.  That stupid trophy mentality has a proper term... it's called zero-sum.  I win.  You lose.  Ugh.  That's the long explanation and summary why dealing with this is pretty much futile: "Once Toyota gets over their electrophobia..."  Refusing to even acknowledge that could have been a mischaracterization is all the more you can expect to get.  Most of the time, they'll just pretend you didn't even post anything.  I get annoyed, but use their claim as an invitation to reply, as I did in this case:  That was never true.  Toyota's stance has always been it was cost prohibitive, that dealers & consumers would not be receptive to the high prices.  Even now, we are just barely reaching the advancement of battery technology enough to make them somewhat competitive.  Look around.  See how unrealistic direct sales against traditional vehicles will be this year without tax-credits available for Tesla or GM.  Do you really think ordinary consumers are willing yet?  Batteries have a little bit to go still.  Fortunately, Toyota hasn't been just sitting around waiting.  Don't listen to the antagonists.  RAV4 Prime is an undeniable example of making a huge investment in the refinement of hardware & software necessary for EV drive.


Stating Goals.  I especially like seeing this post on the discussion thread about Toyota's 2025 plans for Europe: "We don't have yet all the specs to know where the trade-offs are on the RAV-4 Prime vs the HEV."  I called out his edit after posting, but wanted to point out the importance of focusing on goals.  People get too hung up on stages, forgetting what the overall purpose is.  Hopefully, I get something constructive in response to this:  It's nice to see you changed the word "compromises" to "trade-offs" (since the stigma of balance has been lost through years of rhetoric), but that still doesn't change the pattern of that reply fitting "moving goal posts" replies.  To be objective, you must state what is hoped to be achieved.  Anywho, we already know many specs.  We have been told it will share the 135 km/h (84 mph) maximum EV speed as Prius Prime, has an anticipated range of 39 miles, and the battery-pack will not intrude the cargo area.  We also saw a leak of a 17.8 kWh capacity for the battery-pack.  In addition, we have been told it will feature AWD standard, provide 0-60 acceleration in 5.8 seconds, and delivers an overall power output of 302 hp.  Heck, it even comes with predictive-drive and paddle-shifters.  Want more, how about a 10yr/150k battery warranty?  There's an advanced heat-pump too.  What else do you need to know?  What are the goals?


Sleeping Giant.  The response to my post about being outdated ended up with a claim of Toyota resisting change and not doing anything.  Ugh.  I fired back with:  As for your claim of "sleeping", that's also quite outdated.  Toyota has been aggressively converting their entire fleet of passenger vehicles over to the TNGA platform.  It has been a quiet effort, basically impossible to actually notice, but fundamental in the move forward.  It lowers costs and sets the stage for e-TNGA.  That is Toyota's platform for dedicated all-electric vehicles.  With TNGA rollout nearly complete, the "nothing has happened" belief will vanish.  People will be stunned, most likely spinning the situation as if Toyota had to rush to catch up.  But in reality, they have been working hard all along.  Narratives to make you believe otherwise simply drown out the truth.


Outdated Information.  When there are several generations and a wide variety of configurations, it is very easy to mix up specifications.  Being vague makes the situation even worse.  That's one of the reasons I continue to capture & improve videos.  Increasing detail & quality helps document the history.  Rebuttals to false claims afterward are really easy when you have that level of proof contradicting what they insist is true.  Anywho, this is what I posted in response to such a situation today:  That distance & speed stated is quite outdated. Prius Prime delivers far beyond "city speed". 135 km/h (84 mph) has been available since 2017.  The upcoming RAV4 Prime (available in roughly 6 months) will deliver the same speed, but range will be more than that arbitrary ">50 km" expectation.  The EV rating should be about 62 km (39 miles).  Also, the "should have" doesn't take into account being profitable.  Just because the technical achievement is there doesn't mean the technology can compete directly with well established choices.  That part takes time, quite a few generations to reach a wide audience, since the technology much also diversify.  Vehicle generations tend are typically 5-6 years each.  Did you know that Corolla is also being produced as a PHEV now?


Measuring Progress.  An article was published yesterday about Toyota's plan to achieve 90% electrification in Europe by 2025, with the remaining 10% being sport, off-road, and commercial vehicles.  This was a post that obviously stirred attention: "Toyota's suicide note.  Sadly I expect the obsessive Japanese need for consensus to pull all their car makers in this doomed direction."  I found that a great opportunity to ask for some perspective:  What percentage are you expecting from other automakers by 2025?  Toyota's plan to wean both consumer & dealer off of their obsession with non-electrified is going remarkably well.  Any legacy automaker can cater to the low-hanging-fruit crowd, but reaching out beyond that audience becomes harder & harder.  Achieving 90% in just a few years from now is remarkable.  Once their audience has experienced the benefit of having an electric-motor & battery, the desire for more is a natural next step.  Some will transition from HV to PHEV.  Others will skip a step and go from HV to BEV.  The point is, those steps are being achieved in a quick & profitable manner.  While other traditional makers are still struggling to get consumer & dealer to move beyond vehicles with nothing but a gas engine.

1-26-2020 Teaching Moments.  With so many elements at play, it's really hard to figure out what is truly happening with the hybrid system.  You end up scratching your head, not really certain if the outcome observed was truly the result of what you seemed to have identified.  Even the best of us get hung up on the uncertainty: "From actual miles driven on EV mode and miles/kWh data from the car, my full EV range SOC always comes out to be 5.4-5.7kWh.  I have no explanation for this discrepancy."  What detail is being overlooked?  Why a variance?  It can be maddening.  It can also be a teaching moment.  You just share what you know, adding to the collective knowledge overall.  I added:

What does the miles/kWh value actually represent?  Is it overall efficiency or the measure of efficiency only while you are moving?  In other words, sit somewhere parked for awhile.  Does the value go down for the trip?  We know that Hybrid Assistant provide the option of display either of those values.

That's why reporting a number is so screwy.  If a person is picking up their child from school, sitting there will the system on but windows open would still consume some electricity but would be far easier to overlook than if they had the A/C or Heater running.  That's an exaggerated example of a long commute with lots of stoplights, but still easier to measure than the randomness of red-lights and stop-signs.  And of course, all that varies with temperatures.

In other words, those of us with extensive hybrid history have seen the same efficiency-measure problem play out over and over again.  You never can nail down a solid answer to provide new owners or an expectation with prospective buyers.  Making matters worse, we have the added problem of different generations having profoundly different software, hardware, and battery.

The song "Let It Go" comes to mind... hence, just teaching those interested how to retrieve that data for themselves.  And yes, I will be doing exactly that with my videos.  Teaching moments.


Audiences.  Watching them change is fascinating.  There is a growing sense already of an entirely new crowd coming on board due to RAV4.  Those terrible enthusiasts of the past had no clue just how complicated the real-world actually was.  Existing within their niche and fighting to prevent outside influence was a suicidal move.  There's no way to win in the end when so much deception was used to appear victorious from battle to battle.  Eventually, the truth is revealed.  I expressed that sentiment with:  It's a mixed blessing that people don't pay attention to long-term or big-picture issues.  We do indeed have issues with dirty sources of electricity.  We also have an issue with the perception of Prius.  Fortunately, that's all changing.  In fact, if you look at the situation, that's been the destiny all along.  Thing is, the "Tortoise and the Hare" playing out in real life is easy to overlook.  Starting now and looking back, you see Toyota's reputation with hybrid.  Prius is king, but thought of as slow & gutless.  Mid-2020, here comes RAV4 Prime.  It's like the anti-Prius, fast & powerful.  Attention will turn to it.  Toyota knows their audience.  Those who never paid attention or simply even cared will get a twinkle in their eye.  That's an option those loyal customers never saw coming.  They'll be thrilled by the idea of an AWD choice with a plug.  A few years later, we'll get the next generation Prius Prime and it will be amazing.  So, everyone wins.  The point is there's a diverse audience out there, many from traditional markets have a lot to lose, and the technology isn't quite there yet for direct competition.  We're getting close though.  It will happen.  But in the meantime, we still have to deal with that rabbit.


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