Personal Log  #995

March 14, 2020  -  March 21, 2020

Last Updated:  Weds. 3/25/2020

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Trolls.  After dealing with their posts for awhile, they end up getting blocked.  That works well on the computer.  But on my phone-app, I still get post notifies when they reply directly to something I posted.  Fortunately, the content itself isn't shown.  So, I don't have to tolerate their undermining efforts unless I feel up to dealing with that nonsense.  Today, I did.  His post read: "A potentially new Prius owner on the oil guy forum when mentioning Prime just knew it had 4 seats and he needed 5."  It was in response to a comment I made awhile back, but intentionally omitted detail of the situation.  It was a blatant effort to mislead by excluding something vital.  He only quoted the first sentence.  Anyone reading that would have no idea they needed to page back in the discussion thread to discover there was a second sentence, the one stating my point.  He was vague too, by not including a link to his source.  I was annoyed, firing back with:  Talking about quoting out of context!  You cannot just leave out the part explaining the response.  Here's what I actually posted: "That's not the audience. Focus is on showroom shoppers, not random on-the-street people."  That's why it doesn't matter what some random person says on some random forum.  At the dealer, none of that would be an issue.  It would be obvious to see there are 5 seats.


Staying Home.  We are able to make the best of it, quite unlike so many who cannot.  My wife and I can work from home.  We have hobbies to keep us plenty busy.  The cats absolutely love having us around continuously.  So, it's easy for us to stay out of the mess.  I imagine it will be quite difficult for some.  Many are not as fortunate.  Of course, there are a few who simply don't care.  Think about how oblivious to need those troublemakers of the past were.  They pushed want to such an extreme, it became an immense effort to deal with their loss of priorities.  That wasn't life or death though, in the short term.  Right here & now, it is necessary for us to do as much as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.  People are dying.  Seeing how some are still refusing to do their part is unbelievable.  With such extreme examples, why aren't they?  Will they ever figure it out?  Will others observing that reconsider some of their positions of the past?  This is far from the only planetary problems we have to address at some point.  Sooner is obviously better.  People tend to avoid.  People make excuses.  People delay.  It's quite ugly... and well documented in these blogs.  We must grow up and become more responsible.  The long-term consequences of actions & inactions eventually become evident.  Learning from this terrible chapter in our history would be great.  We could... make a better world... if we want to.


Curbside Service.  What a fascinating turn of events.  The interiors of stores & restaurants are being closed to customers, to keep the staff safe and prevent virus spread in general.  People still need provisions & food though.  That has brought about curbside service on a massive scale.  We're seeing all sorts of business switching to delivering what they sell that way.  Today, we experienced that firsthand.  I drove out to get dinner from a place my wife and I like to spend an evening at on special occasions.  I called to say I was there and the order we had placed over the phone was pushed out on a cart.  I was able to grab the bag, while still keeping the "social distancing" necessary.  It was a surreal experience.  I suspect there are many more to come.  You don't realize how natural close proximity is with other humans until you are forced to prevent it.  After several weeks, how will that change the way we interact?  I already see ordinary people scrambling to figure out how to socialize online using tools my profession has used for years.  When we first got the ability to video-chat and hold meetings on our computers, rather than going into a room to all share the experience in-person, many were lost.  There was no basis of comparison and no expectation.  Given time, they figured it out.  We don't have time in this case.  You must immediately adapt.  Hopefully, with everyone participating for a shared goal, this should be easy.  Curbside is a necessity.  Think about plugging in your car.  You already have electricity.  You see the struggle the automotive industry is about to face.  What could we do as a society helping each other to make that easier?


Complaining.  Some people like to.  The infotainment system is a common target of that.  Problem is, the complaints are so vague there's really no point.  All we essentially get is just: "Still no Android Auto?"  That complete absence of any reasoning other than the software isn't available doesn't tell us anything.  It's like complaining about the radio without any context.  What the heck is missing?  What do you want it to do?  I get complaints like that a lot as a software developer.  You hear complaints about making it "better" but have no clue what they are actually asking for.  In their mind it is clear, but the need to convey any detail is missed entirely.  They think it is obvious, that you should somehow magically know what they specifically want.  Ugh.  That's why delivery of a next-generation interface in an entirely new medium is a complexity they overlook.  They see a screen and expect the same user-experience, despite function & operation being different.  Usually, I just let them complain to vent.  It doesn't do much good to try to explain platform differences to those unwilling to take the time to recognize the engineering challenges.  Today, I did actually reply:  It's coming... but not well understood.  There has been much confusion about why simply adopting the older version never intended for that type of use isn't just used anyway.  To transition from phone-centric software to something actually designed for automotive application, it's basically a start over.  That's just like when tablets were introduced.  People didn't recognize how an interface for a phone could differ so much.  In fact, some never do until seeing why firsthand.  In other words, Toyota wants to do this right.  So, they have been slowly making it available as the software matures.  After all, who should address confusion with the interface or unrealistic expectations?  Knowing it is a Google product, think about how Toyota fits into that equation.


Game Changer.  That shift in attitude & perspective is happening.  The signs are becoming obvious: "With gas prices diving well below $2.00 a gallon, I can't help but wonder what the immediate impact will be on EV sales? Fuel cost savings are a major selling point."  I never thought I would see the price of a barrel of oil drop below what it was 20 years ago when I ordered my first Prius.  That was under $40, which equated to gas being less than $1.  Without the usual consumption demand... like the daily commute... supply is piling up.  That means processing & pumping of oil will slow.  At some point (supposedly around $22 per barrel), it become a loss.  That opens up opportunity for green technologies, but this really isn't the ideal for change.  But then again, progress is progress.  Somehow the game needed to be changed.  I guess this is what will push some to the other side of the fence.  After all, posting this seems to not have much of an impact anymore... despite the cold, hard reality of the situation:  With the exhaustion of tax-credits for Tesla & GM, combined with all the low-hanging fruit being picked (early-adopter demand satisfied), a pause in sales was inevitable.  The forces against electrification saw that coming.  Also having this surprise oil surplus resulting in gas prices well below minimums needed to justify plug-in choices definitely puts our support in a regroup & replan status.  Hopefully, a game-changer like RAV4 Prime will mess up arguments for those hoping to undermine our efforts.


Conquest.  There is nothing like reading this on the Volt forum: "Thanks everyone for making this place a great forum.  I sold my Volt two weeks ago and bought a Tesla Model 3, going fully electric.  The 2013 Volt was a great car."  It is the ultimate confirmation of failure.  Tax-Credits were intended for subsidizing change, to make the process of moving forward with electrification easier.  That meant dealers would feel less at risk welcoming in a change to some of their inventory.  That didn't happen with GM; instead, it was a blatant disregard of purpose.  Their goal was to seek conquest, selling to those from outside their customer base.  In other words, there was no actual pursuit of change from within.  Loyal GM customers would just keep buying the same old guzzlers, replacing their aged vehicle with a new model of something similar.  This attitude & disregard went on for years, with fierce defense of the approach claiming change would come.  It never did.  Volt owners have been abandoning GM.  Conquest was a terrible idea, doomed to this outcome.  You can't just ignore your audience.  Showroom shoppers got nothing.  So, nothing happened.


Not Paying Attention.  Stuff like this makes you wonder: "It would be nice if Honda and Toyota could see fit to add them to their larger SUVs as well."  Most people don't pay attention and even fewer make an effort to research.  It is a sad statement about our society, but quite accurate.  Just listen to comments about the presidency.  Sound familiar?  It's the same old nonsense I've been pointing out about vehicles for decades.  Fortunately, the same advice still holds true.  Keeping hitting them with facts:  Toyota's newest generation of hybrid system just rolled out for Highlander AWD bumps the combined rating from 28 to 35 MPG.  That's quite an upgrade and a heck of a big difference from the traditional model only delivering 23 MPG.  With sales here at 239,438 last year, that choice for such a large SUV is definitely a noteworthy effort to improve emissions & efficiency.


Working From Home.  It is no big deal for my wife or I.  We routinely do it anyway.  So, the request for non-essential travel to be halted is fine.  The cats will enjoy having us around more often too.  Since my job involves the development of computer software, with part of my team on the East Coast and some offshore, the concept of remote access is what we have been doing for many years now.  That's new for others.  They will get a crash course in virtual meetings and not being able have in-person contact.  It is something that becomes natural after awhile.  You learn there are other ways to share.  Think about how much interaction I have had with others online, for decades, without ever actually meeting them.  Being able to do that is quite empowering... and it saves a whole lot more gas than any type of vehicle technology.  Think about what that can do for plug-in hybrid interest.  If all you are primarily doing is just short-distance travel for basic necessities & entertainment, there's no need for massive battery-packs.  It's an interesting rethink opportunity about want verses need.  Forced working from home, as well as schooling from home, is an unexpected teaching moment for our rather stubborn country.  I wonder what we'll learn from this experience.  Hmm?


Constructive Exchanges.  That reply to the person in Germany went well.  This discussion continued:  Residential is split-phase.  Commercial is 3-phase.  That's the way our infrastructure was built here and that's the way it will remain for generations to come.  With respect to vehicle charging, it works fine.  Without any supply upgrade, I was able to setup two 40-amp lines.  That's good for providing steady 7.2 kW charging to both of our vehicles at any time.  The SAE spec does support all the way up to 100-amp lines, but that would be overkill.  The affordable 40-amp setup will deliver 200 miles of EV range in 8 hours.  Do you feel a household would benefit from faster?


Unrealistic Suggestions.  I got this from someone in Germany on that thread discussing VW prospects: "The US should really consider to raise their voltage in light of increased electrification."  It's easy to see how a suggestion like that comes about, but it's uncertain how a not realistic reply would be taken.  So, I leaned toward the understanding aspect of constructive exchanges this this instead:  That's an interesting misconception.  The US already has 240V service pretty much everywhere.  It's basically just a matter of combining two 120-volt lines.  The issue is having under capacity and poorly located service-panels.  That's something each homeowner must upgrade themselves.  There is a $1,000 federal tax-credit available for that through the end of 2020.  Problem is, people don't understand the benefit.  That is why I ask what VW plans to do for marketing & education.  Look at how GM failed at that vital task. Even die-hard fans complain about how little GM did to promote their technology.  This very category is where Toyota excels.  Think at how the success of RAV4 hybrid has been achieved.  Consider how that will contribute to RAV4 Prime sales.  That why VW is getting flack already for setting such high sales expectations even before rollout has begun.

3-14-2020 Marketing & Education.  Discussion with regard to VW rollout is quite different from what we saw with GM.  A lot of attention is being put in the financial aspect.  For Volt, it was technical... which was a joke, since we knew what GM was to deliver was proven already.  The spin was that approach was "vastly superior" to what others would supposedly compete with.  Ultimately, the colossal waste of time & resources will be look upon as a scandal.  Proof of that comes down to the lack of any real support.  The product was produced, but nothing came about with regard to actually promoting it.  That's why I'm bringing up the same concern for VW approach.  What is the plan?  This is how I asked today:

With regard to this article, I'm quite curious about BEV advancement in the next few years.  There's a great deal of potential long term, but barriers to overcome... like charger availability... are far bigger of a problem than enthusiasts care to address.  We simply don't see many at public locations and most people don't have any exposure to them in homes.

That lack of knowledge makes any type of investment a monumental challenge, something pretty much impossible to deal with on the scale and at the pace VW is hoping for.  That sure would be nice though.

Realistically, that sweet spot you mention just happens to be the capacity RAV4 Prime is said to deliver, 17.8 kWh.  That a little over double the capacity for Prius Prime, which means the time for a full recharge will be about double with 120-volts.  That does indeed put it in the 11-12 hour range.  It's the maximum an owner can squeeze out overnight and exactly what's needed to stimulate level-2 charger purchases.

With only a 20-amp circuit, you could fully recharge in 4 hours.  With a 40-amp, that time could get cut to about 2 hours... which is the ideal setup for BEV as the next vehicle purchase.  That same 40-amp setup delivering a steady 7.2 kW rate equates to about 200 miles of range in around 8 hours.  So if the owner is willing to invest and has the time available, a recharge of the acceptable "280 to 310 miles (451 to 499 km)" range could be achieved.

Catch is, how will the consumer learn enough of that to embrace such technology?  Can we expect to see VW push marketing & education enough for that to happen?  This reaches well beyond just their own production.  Heck, just getting their own dealers on board will be a monumental effort.  What is the incentive to take such an aggressive stance?


Narrative Questions.  This is how you undermine: "Why would one champion a fading compromise technology with more emissions than an EV and ever fewer advantages?"  That type of question forces a narrative.  The antagonist sets you up to lose.  If you choose a defensive position, you are reinforcing the supposed message.  If you choose an offensive position, they will simply claim you are refusing to acknowledge the supposed facts.  If you choose not to respond, they'll just continue on with the narrative any way they want.  Needless to say, I had to respond in some fashion.  The post prior to that was a taunt, using cherry-picked information, sighting 2 examples to reinforce his perspective.  So, I decided to lead in with that:  Know your audience.  It should be blatantly obvious that Clarity and i3 have nothing to draw any interest from someone wanting an AWD crossover.  You're making the same mistake countless Volt enthusiasts made.  They were so focused on a specific configuration of a technology that they convinced themselves it could be the only choice offered.  RAV4 Prime is a prime example (excuse the pun) of that.  The configuration contradicts many claims made about Prius Prime, proving the technology was far more capable than they portrayed it.  In other words, the narrative of "compromise technology" falls apart when looking beyond just cherry-picked examples and ordinary consumers clearly see that.


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