Personal Log #989
February 2, 2020 - February 11, 2020
Last Updated: Weds. 3/25/2020
page #988 page #990 BOOK INDEX
Giving Up. It is interesting to see articles posted
about GM giving up on hybrids. They never had their heart in it, ever.
The efforts were obviously not sincere. Audience was a dead giveaway
of that. Sales & Praise came from conquest, not actual change.
In fact, there is nothing at GM dealers to even indicate anything happened.
We see traditional guzzlers on their lots. That's it. Had
hybrids been of any interest, there would have been a push to spread the
technology. RAV4 hybrid AWD delivers 40 MPG. Highlander hybrid
AWD delivers 35 MPG (the FWD will deliver 36 MPG). If Toyota is the
laggard, how come GM doesn't have anything comparable... or better?
Volt technology was abandoned. Imagine what it could have become in an
Equinox or Trax. Ugh. Here's what I posted as a comment on the
article in the big EV blog's article about this topic:
Volt's claim to being "vastly superior" was a futile attempt to build up a false idol. It depended upon hope & assumptions. Even comments in this very discussion portray its design incorrectly to persist that narrative. In reality, Volt was an expensive approach to delivering a plug-in hybrid. GM clearly didn't want it to compete directly with traditional vehicles.
Toyota hit the problem from the opposite direction, doing everything right from the start with low-cost being a very high priority. That meant it would take several generations of design refinement, but in the end Prius now delivers to-the-floor EV acceleration and that same affordable technology will now be passed on to RAV4.
In other words, GM was the laggard. There was no push forward. It just died with an early-adopter audience and a heavy dependence on tax-credits. GM enjoyed the enthusiast praise, resting on its laurels rather than bothering to put that technology in a configuration their own customers would actually purchase.
Think about how Volt got its start. There was a plug-in version of Two-Mode already being demonstrated. It was a SUV, specifically a Saturn Vue. Taking a detour with the technology by modifying it for a hatchback should have only been a short-term effort. Abandoning the idea of putting it in an Equinox was the big mistake... one that RAV4 Prime will make quite obvious.
It's no surprise at this point GM has given up.
More Fallout. There was an article published a few days ago that started with: "Put simply, GM was finished with hybrids. There will be no follow-ups to the Volt, no long-rumored plug-in hybrid crossover, and even no more hybrids on the way." Comments posted about it were all over the place. Many said it was a shame that GM didn't do anything with the technology... exactly what I complained about shortly after gen-1 Volt sales confirmed it was a disaster already playing out. Even way back when, if you were familiar at all with how GM responded to Two-Mode sales struggle, the pattern was familiar. Taking the next step wasn't going to happen. Diversification wasn't being treated as a priority; instead, rhetoric to hold it back became the overwhelming theme. Evidence of that still is strong. Some were arguing in this very article that Volt was unlike the from Toyota, never directly powering the wheels. Despite confirmation that isn't true, that it did indeed operate in parallel for engine/motor propulsion, that false information continues to be spread. It's quite bizarre to see such blatant misrepresentation taking place. But then again, it isn't like the narrative is uncommon. Even GM's president pushes the belief of complexity: "I just - from a physics and engineering standpoint - just can't get my head around making money doing that in the long haul, even as a stopgap." That recent comment feeds the perspective of cost & complexity. There's good reason for taking that stance too. Toyota is about to prove it so wrong, GM will be set way back for even attempting to compete. They feel they are better off just pretending Volt served to demonstrate it was impossible and they moved on without any pressure to the contrary. Ugh.
Returning Troublemakers. There is a new group on Facebook created specifically for those interested in RAV4 Prime. Right away, I got quite suspicious by an individual posting what seemed to be gloating about GM. He made comment efficiency in relation to the size of the battery, following an unfounded claim of 12-amps from an 120-volt outlet being unrealistic for charging despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. That was a big red-flag. Quite a shocking number of people equate capacity to efficiency, rather than the actual rate of consumption. It's a misconception that has propagated throughout the EV community, stemming from the belief that more is better. That's an easy trap to fall into. He obviously did. So, I posted this to test his integrity: "Efficiency is measured in terms of kWh/100mi, not size of the battery-pack. In that regard, Prius Prime is rated at 25.9 and Bolt at 28.0, showing the Toyota is clearly more efficient. RAV4 Prime likely also has an edge." Sure enough, he got angered and lashed back with a weight argument. Suspecting he was already unwilling to hear anymore, I figured it was pointless to address him. Instead, I just provided some background. This situation reminded me of the first battles, back when people compared Insight to Prius. It made no sense whatsoever comparing a 2-seat aluminum-body manual-transmission hatchback to a 5-seat automatic sedan. They had nothing in common beyond both just being hybrids. Yet, that comparison happened on a very regular basis. Ugh. Anywho, he was clearly trying to stir trouble when he brought up his Volt ownership in the reply, attempting to directly compare it to RAV4 Prime. Ugh, again. This was my response: That "RAV4 Prime likely also has an edge." means the Toyota design will likely be more efficient than that GM design. In other words, EV drive for a RAV4 will likely be more efficient than that from Equinox. That's comparing a similar size & class of vehicle. Knowing how much more experience Toyota has with motor, controller, and software design from so many generations of hybrids, it makes sense they have found a way to squeeze out greater electric efficiency.
Intentional Misleading. It is somewhat remarkable how certain people will just repeat the same lie over and over. This individual gets called out on it each time to, but simply doesn't care. He tried it yet again today: "Glad my taxes helped to get you a refund." It makes you wonder. Is this a willful ignorance or a just plain doesn't care situation? Either way, there's always someone who steps it to point out the incorrect claim. Today, it was me: That isn't how tax-credits work. It isn't ever money from someone else. It is a reduction of what you would normally pay, a portion of your own liability. In other words, you get to keep more of your paycheck.
Meaningful Adoption. Sometimes, my blog entry will be
created using a secondary computer. I forgot to send the following,
from nearly 2 months ago... which was an important time, since it was prior
to the tax-credit end becoming a reality. There was a claim of "meaningful
adoption" without any context. I knew it was from a source who
routinely evades constructive His posts focus on
at-the-moment victories with a total disregard for the market as a whole.
Forcing the perspective of only plug-in vehicles mattering isn't the
slightest bit helpful. In fact, that stance often comes across as that
"vastly superior" attitude we had so many problems with years ago.
Allowing that to persist wasn't acceptable then and certainly isn't now,
5 weeks following Tesla's end of tax-credits and 7 weeks until the same
happens to GM. Intent of that subsidy money was to achieve meaningful
adoption. I pointed out:
Certain people have danced around what that really means. They are those who refer to sales as "EV Market" rather than acknowledge the consumers who legacy dealerships actually serve. Reality has since crashed down on them... as confirmed by their silence.
It was interesting to watch them turn a blind-eye to what the quantity of 200,000 really represented. That's less than 10% of Toyota's production for just a single year in just the United States. Spread over an entire decade (from 2009 to 2019), those truly in support of reaching mainstream buyers in any "meaningful" way, they knew volume & profit must be achieved prior to triggering phaseout.
The antagonists upset to see Toyota doing exactly that declare "laggard" to make their misunderstanding of market not sting as much. It's a vindication for those who pushed for genuine change, not just praise for technical achievement or short-term gain. This is why any next-step to subsidize adoption should be focused on infrastructure instead.
Again, new money as an incentive to choose a plug-in vehicle should now be used toward upgrades at home. Where you park overnight should get those funds. That is a permanent investment which will deliver benefit for decades to come, well beyond just the purchase of single vehicle.
Charge Time. I posted this: "It takes up to 6 hours to completely recharge a Prius Prime (25 miles) using a standard 120-volt outlet. That means it will take around 10 hours for RAV4 Prime (39 miles)." You wouldn't think such a concise claim backed by real-world data would stir outrage. Someone was angered though, that I'd make post a statement so obviously incorrect. It was bizarre... until I discovered it was just another troublemaker on a newly created group. Ugh. It's sad to think a topic as simple as charge-time would draw those hoping to undermine. But then again, even among EV supporters there has been issues related to things as simple as charging. In fact, that's a big contributor to why PHEV will dominate for years to come. Sure, EV will hold the spotlight and capture the hearts of many, but stuff like this jerk today will be fighting against that progress. At least with a plug-in hybrid, you can start on your own. No special knowledge needed. Just plug in the charging-unit that came with the vehicle into the nearly ordinary outlet in your garage and don't even worry about the time it takes to charge.
Video: Prius Prime - Electric Heat-Pump. Electric-Only driving in the winter is made possible using an electric heat-pump. This is a device that compresses air to capture & transfer heat from its surroundings, an exchange of cold for warm. So even with temperatures in the teens, you can comfortably enjoy EV driving. This video shows me on an ordinary daily commute to work in February in Minnesota. It's quite uneventful, exactly what you'd want for a routine morning drive. The gas engine never starts, despite the cold. All the propulsion & warming came from electricity. Here's the latest in my quest to share technical info in a KISS format. The detail is there if you're interested. If not, it's just an entertaining time-lapse video showing what a non-eventful winter commute is like in Minnesota. With outside temperature in the teens, the entire drive is in EV. You can easily see the electricity trade-off of range for warmth. It serves well for those driving short commutes or (like me) have the opportunity to recharge while at work... Prius Prime - Electric Heat-Pump
Not Charged. Over the years, rhetoric involving the purchase of a PHEV just for the sake of HOV access has spread. Claims are that the owner never plugs in. Looking beyond whether or not that is actually true, we see the reality that the purchase resulted in another PHEV being put on the road. If the motive was indeed that HOV access, that means the vehicle is very likely to be sold 3 years later when it expires. That addition of a vehicle into the used market is great. Someone wanting to heavily discounted plug-in would get their wish. So, it is a win overall anyway. But the odds of an owner not plugging it ever is rather slim. Why wouldn't you take advantage of the cheaper fuel? Heck, there are places you can find electricity for free. For me, that's every time I visit the local grocery store. Anywho, the antagonist can never explain PHEV purchases in states where there is no incentive for HOV access. So, there argument falls apart one way or another. They keep trying though. The latest effort is: "PHEVs consume 3 times more fuel if not charged". Seeing that as a title on an article was troubling. It was spin to get you to overlook the reality that the better PHEV operate as extremely efficient hybrids following depletion of the battery. Dancing around that fact is difficult. A plug-in Prius is still a Prius, so MPG is higher than other vehicles regardless of plugged-supplied electricity. Seeing results around 60 MPG even without plugging is an easily fulfilled expectation. How is that "3 times more" than the implied comparison to traditional vehicles? In the article, claims of the extra weight due to the large battery-pack certainly gives you that impression.
How? We are seeing attempts by GM to stir hype. With their tax-credit phaseout about to conclude, that's no surprise. Also not a surprise is how many enthusiasts there are online who really don't have a clue what GM is capable of with ambiguous announcements. For example, this came about today as a result of hearing some big reveals are on the way for early March: "I'm excited to see what GM has planned!" Ugh. Notice how there is no setting of any type of expectation, that it is left wide open despite this reader supposedly being somewhat informed (by the act of participating within an enthusiast venue). Even those Volt troublemakers set some type of target. Nothing whatsoever is a bad sign. Of course, that "nicely under $30,000" goal still haunts many who backed GM. It's a sensible target to have set all those years ago for the market now, which GM was never able to deliver. Achieving cost low even to make a technology both affordable & profitable is far more difficult than those enthusiasts ever imagined... hence being enthusiastic, rather than realistic like a supporter must be. That difference is profound... which is why I ask the "How?" question now instead of "Who?". Needless to say, I don't expect a constructive response to this reply I posted: It's all about actions, not words. Watch for vague & ambiguous statements. We've see the pattern of the "over promise, under deliver" game being played by GM repeatedly. This is yet another example of how they build hype without substance. Sure, GM could step up to the plate. They have the engineering expertise. The catch is their dealers simply aren't interested in supporting that. So, ask how these new plans change that paradigm. In other words, what will GM be doing to stir interest from their dealers. How will want they announce actually change the inventory stocked?
Subtle Fallout. News about plug-in vehicles as we knew it is gone. That's great with respect to rhetoric; those horrible antagonists hyping expensive & inefficient choices as solutions for the masses have vanished. They thrived on meritless attention. It was a nightmare for those of us trying to be constructive. Ultimately, that nonsense approach was how Volt died. Enablers basically killed it by spreading misinformation. They became victims of their own smear campaign. But trying so hard to mislead & confuse, they undermined their own progress. In other words, the audience found nothing compelling to draw them in. No incentive to take the next step spells doom for any initiative related to the spread of technology. To increase marketshare, you must appeal to a wider audience. Staying within the realm of enthusiasts meant being trapped in that venue. There simply was no way to expand. We're seeing fallout from that now. This next stage (the one beyond tax-credits) is showing signs of very real trouble already. Who is the audience now? The big EV blog isn't publishing anything to attract those doing basic plug-in research. There's just a flurry of articles highlighting concept & exotic vehicles. Nothing for ordinary consumers is a very real problem. Keep in mind how vital it is to have "showroom shopper" content at the ready, something to entice the curious searcher. Not having anything of that nature anymore is fallout those hoping to grow the market cannot afford to experience. Something must be done to prevent this loss of middle-market targeting has brought about.
Free Charger. Someone shared a link to a dealer
providing a level-2 charger with a plug-in purchase. That's
interesting. I'm quite curious what type of discussion that will stir.
Here's how I commented about the article:
It's a different twist toward the encouragement of charging at home. Getting
dealer's involved is obviously an important step forward. But I would be
concerned about the spread of misinformation from a source with basically no
experience or accountability. How will they ensure proper detail is shared
from salesperson to potential customer? My electricity provider (a
local co-op) has it nailed. $50 sub-meter added to a dedicated circuit for
the charger, along with signing up for either their TIME-OF-USE or OFF-PEAK
discounted rate program, gets you a $500 rebate. Knowing that
electricity will automatically be discounted using a charger of your
choosing, without having to ever do anything beyond just plugging in at
night, is simple & painless. Our local EV owners group has been
working with local providers, doing all we can to provide feedback and help
spread the word. Chargers are by far the question I get asked any detail
about. It's quite encouraging to have witnessed (we routinely have public
showings) consumers stepping beyond just the initial "How does a plug-in
work?" inquiries to now wanting to know what it takes to own one.