Personal Log  #997

March 26, 2020  -  March 28, 2020

Last Updated:  Tues. 4/07/2020

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3-28-2020 Facts.  Things change over time.  The best of sources back in the past may no longer be up to date or even relevant years later.  So, it best to check.  That new misconception stir brought this about: "Good to get the facts, we may need to research a bit..."  That's the kind of reply you like to get.  I added to the discussion"

When doing that research, the comment posted is revealed to actually be part of a question... someone looking for confirmation of that being a valid suggestion.  It's a good example of how hearsay gets passed along and later ends up becoming assumed fact.

In this case, it is easy to see a red-flag about the supposed advice, because the second sentence doesn't make any sense: "After confirming that EV mode has switched to HV mode, turn the power switch off."  It's an illogical step.  EV mode is always default.  Switching to HV just prior to powering off achieves nothing.  There is no point stated for doing that either.

The first sentence tells us more about the circumstance of the post though: "Leave a low level of charge in the hybrid battery (traction battery) when leaving the vehicle undriven for a long period of time."  What was stated as the "hybrid battery" has been misunderstood to only represent the HV quantity, not including the EV quantity.  It doesn't state whether that "low" represents the usable portion of the pack or the entire capacity either.  So, you end up with a confusing mess of numbers the reader must interpret on their own.

This is why I share those driving videos with the ODB-II data added.  That extra information provides insight to nudge people's brains for desiring a closer look.  You discover there's more at play than a simple value being stated at any particular time.  It's a complex system Toyota worked hard to create a "for dummies" interface.


New Misconceptions.  The start of the weekend brought this: "For long periods without use, apparently the best is keep the charge to HV level (no more than the 20% HV charge).  Read that here somewhere."  I was curious where that new member to the forum came across such misinformation.  I also wanted to intercept that before it becomes a new misconception.  After all, many of those situations can be turned into a teaching moment.  So, I posted:  Incorrect.  You have any recollection where you read that?  It's helpful to find out the source of new misconceptions.  Think about it.  Toyota's hybrid system has strived to maintain about 65% since for longevity since the very beginning, over 2 decades ago.  That balance has proven itself well for a wide variety of uses & conditions, even with different chemistries.  So out of the blue reading that HV level is better makes no sense, especially since that is below 14%.  Keep in mind that there's a lot of anecdotal comments passed along on the internet, some never confronted by critical-thinking, just accepted as fact.  Don't be afraid to ask for links or detail to support a claim.


Simple Advice.  We have people working from home, not driving their vehicle anywhere near as much.  Apparently, this person wouldn't be driving at all for quite awhile.  I'm not sure how that's possible.  Never going anywhere for several weeks isn't something we're hearing.  Even with the reduction to essential travel, people still travel.  If nothing else, they'll need toilet paper eventually.  More realistically, they'll need food.  I can't imagine too many people going to the grocery store and purchasing a supply of things to eat for several weeks.  Some will, but that won't be the norm.  Significant reduction is the expectation.  And in that case, there's nothing to do.  The longevity of your battery-pack is just fine in that circumstance.  In that regard, I provided this simple advice:  The advice is to drive the car from time to time.  Use electricity or gas.  You have that choice with the HV/EV button.  At home, plug in randomly rather than every night.  We have been patronizing local businesses.  They are still working to provide food services and they still need money.  So, it's out to get something to eat.  The improvised curb-side delivery has been working great too.  There's the drive-thru for the local coffee shop too.  Eventually, you'll run out of some supply (toilet paper), so you'll need to run an errand for retail anyway.


Dealing With Rhetoric.  When arguments fall apart for the antagonist, their next step is to attack you personally.  Most of the time, it takes a form like this: "But that IS your solution, isn't it?  Aren't you saying that manufacturers should stop producing and selling ICEVs?"  They simply make something up and ask if that is what you meant.  It is an obvious divert technique, right out of the troll playbook.  They hope you'll take the bait.  Sometimes, I do... but with a twist.  Since he wanted to make it personal, I looked up one of his own quotes to use in the reply to frame the discussion:  To quote your own post from the previous GM discussion: "What they don't want to do is waste resources developing more efficient ICE instead of developing their EV platforms.  ICE is dead, won't be around much longer, and it makes little sense to dump billions into new engines that are on the way out."  That looks like a continued misunderstanding what a PHEV is and has to offer.  Nothing is needed to develop a more efficient ICE.  You just take whatever is already available and supplement it with electric-motors with batteries powered by plug-supplied electricity.  GM did that already to create their Voltec system.  This is what everyone expected to be rolled out in a SUV platform, like Equinox or Trax.  Development was already complete and real-world proven.  The approach worked, but GM abandoned it anyway... despite leveraging so much of what GM had already established.  That was GM's phased approach to BEV offerings.  Toyota, Honda, Ford, Hyundai, BMW... many automakers are following a similar path to reach that ultimate goal of no longer producing ICE.  It is a natural transition which should appeal to the masses.


Exaggeration.  You know you have an antagonist cornered when they reply with an extreme, some type of response grossly exaggerating what you actually posted.  For example: "And your solution is for all automaker everywhere to stop making all ICEVs right now.  Yeah, I'm sure that would work."  Of course, I said no such thing.  I had posted several comments about automakers have some sort of transition plan, an approach to phaseout the out with a next step technology.  Stopping cold wouldn't make any sense, period.  The dealer business couldn't support such a drastic change across the board.  With a particular vehicle, sure.  In fact, that makes sense if there is some obvious succession.  But if it is a step backward or requires too much on the consumer's part, not a chance.  Know your audience.  It wasn't that complicated in this case.  He just simply either wasn't paying attention or didn't care.  So, I kept my reply brief and without any point to argue:  Ignoring the wide variety of HV and PHEV options available for transition to BEV by replying with an exaggeration...

3-27-2020 Repeating History.  It's fascinating to witness the repetition: "On the other hand, if consumers don't come to the party, you can't expect manufacturers to churn out BEVs that customers refuse to buy. The public loves their gas cars, global warming be damned."  Remember the excuse GM made for ending EV1 production?  Full of ambition to fire back, I did with:

So rather than push GM to advance its fleet forward, you're choosing to be an enabler.  Just allow loyal GM customers to continue buying their guzzlers without any accountability.  Ugh.  We have seen that entire life-cycle play out already with both Two-Mode and Voltec.  It's fascinating to watch history repeat, yet again.

Notice how much Toyota gets mocked for doing the opposite, transitioning their entire fleet of passenger vehicles to hybrids?  That sets the stage for a very easy next step, getting them to consider a plug-in hybrid.  And as you have heard countless times on this website, PHEV is the gateway to BEV.  Once the consumer begins to enjoy the benefits of plugging in, their interest in the gas-engine sours.

The irony of those here turning a blind-eye to the obvious solution for legacy automakers is amazing.  It's such a natural path to reach the mainstream audience.  Yet, many choose a path of purity and consequences be damned.

In other words, you're making the same mistake CARB made 20 years ago.  Remember that mandate?  Remember why it didn't work?  You're focusing on a technology, not a goal.


Disappointing Outlook.  Shortly after the press started sharing projections from Detroit about EV expectation, there was disappointment.  It was almost as if the EV community did a collection sigh.  The numbers were far lower than anyone ever anticipated.  This great revolution of new BEV choices was only to bring a 5% penetration in over 5 years time.  What kind of change is that?  Seeing such an outlook so poor left many without words.  How do you support being let down like that?  The production of ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) was to have a grim future at that point, with plans of discontinuation by 2030.  It was the wildly optimistic enthusiasts hyping up expectations again.  Ugh.  I posted this wake-up call:  The problem of "over promise, under deliver" speaks for itself.  It has a long history.  What's even more interesting though is the Reuters detail published today that he's referring to.  It states a projection of the two biggest American automakers producing 5 million SUVs and Pickups in 2026, with only 320,000 of them electric.  That falls well below the expectation of major change... and certainly not the "options for consumers will be there from GM soon" you hope for.  Look at Toyota's top-selling SUV for some perspective.  RAV4 sales for last year totaled 448,071 here.  That's just one vehicle from one automaker.  320,000 split between two automakers and split between SUV & Pickup makes that number really disappointing in terms of the supposed revolution they were hoped to represent... especially when that's projected for 6 years from now.

3-26-2020 Recognizing Data.  I was captivated by the opportunity to respond to this on the discussion about Detroit reaction to change: "Just have to look at the numbers.  BEV sales have been on more of upward trend than PHEV."  I knew his view was limited & outdated.  What happened in the past doesn't tell us much about what to expect coming up, if you don't recognize the variables.  Sometimes, even that isn't actually needed to see how off predictions can be.  His statement is actually false in Europe.  The trend has swayed in the other direction there.  I didn't bother to mention that, since his focus was just on the United States.  Here's what I did say:

Recognizing data source tells a different story.  Last year had 2 major events for the plug-in sales here.  One was the scramble for Tesla to ramp up production of Model 3 and the scramble for consumers to purchase them prior to tax-credit expiration at 2019 year-end. The other was disappearance of Volt, a vehicle which had exploited tax-credits for conquest sales prior to 2019.  Both tipped the scale heavily in the favor of BEV and focused entirely on the early-adopter market.

2020 will bring about a major player in the PHEV category.  RAV4 hybrid is already a strong seller, which sets up the nicely configured upcoming PHEV model to draw in an entirely new audience... one that Tesla has yet to reach.  And since Toyota is a legacy automaker, there's the potential with this new offering to stir interest from their dealers who previously didn't see demand.

In other words, trend of the past tells us nothing about what to expect from an entirely new audience.  It's how market growth works.  That next level doesn't necessarily resemble the prior, since purchase priorities of the next differ so much.  Put another way, selling a plug-in to a well-informed enthusiasts has basically nothing in common to the approach needed to appeal to a mainstream consumer.

3-26-2020 Complicated.  Ugh.  Someone went off on some rant about how simple the process should be, upset by how people are making it way more complicated than it actually is.  It's understandable that they don't have the background to have a constructive exchange of knowledge.  But to argue that everyone is making a big deal out of nothing is quite counterproductive.  If it was really that simple, how come there's so much struggle still.  Why isn't that next step naturally taking place, especially with such generous subsidies helping to encourage change?  Annoyed, I pointed out:

There's more to it than that.  GM failing to deliver anything whatsoever with regard to a plug-in choice yet means a truly compelling BEV could potentially destroy their ability to sustain a transition.  In other words, without any type of phased approach, they face the Osborne Effect.  It's ironic how much Toyota gets hammered for investing in PHEV, when such an approach helps protect against that very problem.

Think about it.  By the time Toyota rolls out their dedicated BEV platform, they are expected to have at least 4 choices of PHEV in production (Prius, Corolla, RAV4, Sienna) and 2 choices of EV in production (CH-R, UX300e).  All those will help to build up sales knowledge and service experience in the meantime.  In also gives dealers variety to offer that already have a plug, instead of just adding to a massive backlog of orders to fill.

Tesla had the advantage of having basically no competition and an eager early-adopter audience.  That made limited choice and high sticker-price far less of an issue than it will be a few years from now.  That low-hanging fruit has been picked.  Legacy automakers also have the challenge of legacy dealerships, needing to appeal to their inventory desires and sales practices.

In short, it's far more complicated than most people realize.
3-26-2020 Market Narrative.  It continued: "Yeah, GM should have done PHEVs earlier, but now the tech is too obsolete to invest too much into.  And they are going the right direction with battery only solutions across their brands and vehicle segments."  I got a kick out of seeing the "obsolete" argument being used.  After watching that nothing-to-gain approach fail countless times, you have to wonder if that was nothing but a knee-jerk reaction.  After all, there are some who participate online without ever practicing critical-thinking.  That from-the-gut type of response makes them feel better, that's it.  Amused, but hoping not to sound close-minded or condescending, I posted:

The label "obsolete" doesn't actually mean anything, since it has no relation to sales.  People continue to use & buy technology that has been replaced with better solutions for decades.  The reason why is simple, there's a balance of cost & benefit.  That's a bitter pill to swallow for those embracing the newer technology.  But that's the cold, hard reality of business.  Like it or not, that's the way it is.

With regard specifically to PHEV verses BEV, it is especially difficult to convey information.  Comparing a PHEV driven with only electricity for the daily commute to a BEV presents challenges, since the results are the same.  How do you up-sell to the BEV when there's the obvious advantage of having a gas-engine available in the PHEV for longer trips?

Arguments of design or complexity are meaningless to a consumer with priorities not matching those here participating in discussions like this.  When they walk the showroom floor, their exposure to the technology is profoundly different.  Most enthusiasts have a very difficult time accepting that... hence their opinion of "obsolete" not matching your definition at all.

In short, the should-have-done and going-the-right-direction don't mean anything either.  It's all about sales.  That's the measure of change, not what marketing tells us.


Piecemeal Data.  The topic about Detroit's future brought about this: "GM has declared no more PHEVs.  We'll get a RAV4 PHEV and Ford has several HEV and PHEV SUVs coming this year.  Given the poor sales of the Outlander PHEV, I doubt Americans will buy many of these.  And the take rate of Pacifica PHEV was only about 2%."  Seeing such a jumbled & disconnected grouping of information was annoying.  It's worse than cherry-picking.  They were just random facts.  That type of piecemeal data only serves to feed a narrative.  There's no critical-thinking with such vague assertions anyway.  You don't build a line of reasoning from such disorganized statements; yet, that's what thrives online.  Ugh.  I fired back with:  RAV4 is Toyota's top-selling vehicle and the hybrid version is around 20%.  The PHEV model will offer 39 miles of EV verses Outlander's 22 miles and around 40 MPG for HV efficiency verses Outlander's 25 MPG.  Comparing the two as if they were in the same category isn't constructive.  No one is going to buy that line of argument.  As for the attempt to compare a minivan to a SUV, that's absurd.  Understanding audience & market is very important.  GM can declare whatever it wants based on whatever it wants.  Missing that opportunity is their loss.  If you choose to doubt the potential, so be it.

3-26-2020 Detroit Transition.  An article in the EV blog posted about GM and Ford outlooks certainly was interesting.  I was intrigued what the perspective of others was now, in the light of new pressure on business & consumers.  So, I jumped in with the hope of stirring some discussion:

It was obvious back when gen-1 Volt sales started to tank and GM did that big price slash that the desire to electrify had faded.  Follow up to that move should have been an announcement of an upcoming SUV using the same tech.  After all, we had already been shown a prototype of a plug-in hybrid Saturn Vue back in the Two-Mode days.  That next step was long overdue; instead, we got news of a gen-2 Volt that would further refine traits enthusiasts had praised the vehicle for.  It was a step in the wrong direction. Focus was on a niche audience.  GM's own loyal SUV buyers would have nothing to actually buy.

All these years later, we now see the rise of the SUV in plug-in hybrid format, but not from GM.  Specifics from the upcoming RAV4 Prime are leading that revolution.  If Ford truly has sincere intend with their SUV offering, it would become a complementary offering... since those two PHEV are configured quite differently.  There will be nothing from GM in that category though; instead, there will supposedly be a competitive BEV model of SUV a few years from now.

Watch what happens in the meantime.  If Toyota really does kill their traditional model of Sienna, making that minivan hybrid only, it will set the stage for another +300 horsepower PHEV offering.  That puts Detroit at a clear disadvantage.  Just look at how some jumped over to Chrysler for the Pacifica.  The status quo is definitely on the verge of being shaken up.


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