Green-wash or real?

Discussion in 'General' started by bwilson4web, Jun 27, 2018.

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  1. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber


    Nikki points out there is a gap between the goals and products announced at VW corporate HQ versus what happens at the local dealership. We see a similar pattern with the local Toyota dealership who resentfully sell Prius if they can't get you into a gas powered, Camry or Corolla. There are Toyota sales regions that won't stock or sell a Prius Prime and that pattern seems to be the same gap Nikki describes between VW HQ and VW dealers.

    In contrast, no one can buy a gas car from Tesla or even a plug-in hybrid. This is the difference between Tesla that has a consistent commitment from HQ to customer. There are no dealers trying to lure the customer away from a Tesla electric car.

    This pattern of paying lip service at HQ, green-wash, versus an entirely different attitude on the sales floor bothers me. It is why I remain suspicious of existing manufacturers offering just one or two efficient cars. Toyota has Prius history; Ford has hybrid models, and; Honda has struggled. The rest including BMW, Nissan and Hyundai seem fractured. Then there are 'bad actors'.

    Commitment to efficient transportation is what it takes and Tesla is forcing pretenders to offer something. But I don't and won't trust them until we see sales volumes.

    Bob Wilson
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  3. Steven B

    Steven B Active Member

    Honda, being new on the scene with the plug, is presenting a similar confliction. Several actual and potential purchasers of the Honda Clarity PHEV have arrived at the dealers to find that the vehicles' high voltage batteries have states of charge near zero. For the propulsion system on this model, this battery state can result in a test drive negative impression as the system will run the ICE at a high RPM to charge the battery in addition to propelling the vehicle.

    For the first plugged car from this brand, half the battle is getting the customer to consider one. Once it has been test driven and the negative impression obtained, you may have lost this customer not only to plugged cars from this brand, but from all brands for a decade or more.

    I remember not long ago the complaints about CVTs. People who test-drove them (or had one as a rental) swore they'd never buy one and if you ask them to consider one today, will probably relate the bad experience from a decade ago.

    Another reason for sabotage, whether intentional or not, is the reduced maintenance cost of vehicles primarily powered by means other than an ICE. Reduced maintenance translates into lost recurring income for the dealer.
  4. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Volkswagen's former habit of constantly bombarding us with vaporware EVs certainly did come across as greenwashing to me.

    Putting the XL1 into very, very limited production -- as I recall, only 125 units total -- was very little better.

    But I think that things really have been shaken up at VW following the Dieselgate scandal. I think their commitment to buying EV batteries in large numbers in the next few years, coupled with announcements that they are actually installing assembly line equipment for new EVs, does show that they are finally making a real commitment to building and selling compelling plug-in EVs. At least, I hope they are not just fooling us again. But it's going to take at least a couple of years before those new models of Volkswagen EVs actually make it onto dealer lots.

    Toyota? Toyota seems very committed to refusing to enter the BEV market, and only make a PHEV (the Prius Prime) with a small EV range. Toyota is the BlackBerry of auto makers; taking an early lead with the Prius non-plug-in hybrid, but ignoring advances in tech and allowing other auto makers, specifically Tesla and GM, to charge ahead of them.

    From what Toyota is saying publicly, they are committed to waiting until battery tech is "ready" for making profitable BEVs before they start making those. In the meantime, they are foolishly promoting "fool cell" cars and bragging about their solid-state battery tech, which doesn't appear to be any closer to production than anybody else's solid-state battery R&D project. Does that remind anyone of BlackBerry responding only weakly to the entry of the iPhone into the smartphone market which it formerly dominated?

    Or does it remind us more of Eastman Kodak, who invented and patented the digital camera, then shelved the tech after deciding to wait until the tech was actually competitive with consumer-grade film cameras before jumping in? Well... I think we all know what happened to Eastman Kodak.

    Is Toyota working quietly behind the scenes on prototype BEVs, to ensure it won't fall too far behind as EV tech advances? My guess -- and of course it's only a guess -- is that no, they aren't. In every disruptive tech revolution, some of the market leaders in the old tech go out of business because they waited too long to try to compete with the new tech. It looks very much like that's the path Toyota is going down. When Toyota does finally get around to marketing a long-range BEV, I think it will be too late.

    All just my opinion, of course. But history is pretty clear on this: Some of the current market leaders in selling gasmobiles won't survive when the market turns to EVs. The only questions are just how many, and which ones, of the current large auto makers will fail in the next 15-20 years.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  5. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I think that the attitude of legacy dealerships is actually a different subject. It's not really hard to understand their motive. First of all, to try to persuade you to buy a plug-in EV, the salesman must tell you why it's so much better than all the gasmobiles he's also trying to sell. Also, the dealership makes more money on servicing cars than it does selling them, and BEVs need significantly less service; about 40% less, according to some analyses.

    Those are two fundamental conflicts of interest that I don't think it's possible to resolve at legacy auto dealerships. I think the way auto makers are going to deal with the situation is to follow Tesla's lead in selling cars directly to the public, cutting out the "middle man" of the local dealership. It's an outmoded business model anyway, so why should auto makers spend time, money and resources trying to change the attitude toward EVs at independently owned auto dealers, when the auto makers would be better off without them?

    The EV revolution isn't going to be just about replacing an ICEngine powertrain with an EV powertrain. It will also be about changing how cars are sold.

    The thing about disruptive tech revolutions is... they are actually disruptive! :)

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  6. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I've never driven one. What's bad about them?

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  8. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    There are variants:
    • eCVT - the Ford/Toyota system uses two motor generator (MG) that have a parallel, electrical, ~28%, and mechanical, ~72%. The larger MG2 can sustain speed alone using traction battery energy. Very smooth, the engine operating line (aka., rpm and torque) stays in the high efficiency zone and there is no clutch(*). But this disconnects the engine rpm sound from the vehicle speed which compared to traditional manual and stepped automatic transmission is 'foreign.' Self proclaimed gear heads hate them.
    • belt CVT - Honda and others, it uses a metal, specially formed, linked belt between two variable dimension cones. They change the relative diameter of each cone to keep the belt tight and operate in a specific range. Operating in compression, not tension, the belt passes engine power with some mechanical stress requiring attention to the lubricant. Unfortunately, it needs a clutch to the engine.
    • eCVT + one-way clutch - used in the Prius Prime, it prevents the engine from rotating backwards and allows both MGs to run as if they were a single motor. This is the heart of the EV mode. The self proclaimed gear heads are 'less offended' by this (terrorized by Tesla.)
    Weber State Professor John D. Kelly has posted a bunch of YouTube videos that do teardown analysis of these different approaches. I enthusiasticlly recommend them.

    Bob Wilson
  9. Steven B

    Steven B Active Member

    Most drivers felt they were not responsive enough. You felt that you needed to press the accelerator a few tenths of a second before you normally would so that when you wanted the vehicle to move, it would promptly do so rather than "spin-up" the engine and then begin to move the vehicle.
  10. I think VW will be on the electric bandwagon at the retail level once it has its I.D. is ready to begin shipping. The e-Golf and e-Up programs don't seem to have the same level of commitment, though, which is not a great look when you're trying to convince people you're serious about EVs.

    Considering the billions they've sunk into development and the battery supply chain, it would be worth their time to improve its buying experience for the cars it offers now, instead of just waiting to kick into high gear in the future.

    Being a public company and needing to show maximum profit quarter by quarter, it's hard for it, I think, to justify an outlay now when the return (from e-Golf/e-Up) is minimal.
  11. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    But how much of that is due to the eGolf not being designed and built from the ground up to be a BEV?

    I think most EV industry watchers will agree that the reason legacy auto makers are not making and selling more PEVs (Plug-in EVs) is because they make a significantly lower unit profit on them, if any unit profit at all. But that is partly because of the low production numbers. With low production comes high unit cost.

    Aim for a significantly larger production and sales, and the unit cost drops substantially. Part of lowering the unit cost is designing the car from the ground up to be a PEV. Designing and building it to be a "multi-platform" car, or taking a gasmobile and shoehorning an EV powertrain into it, drives up the unit cost of the vehicle.

    The problem of unit cost vs. production is a chicken-and-the-egg problem. Legacy auto makers won't make PEVs in enough quantity to benefit from the economy of scale until they're more profitable, yet they'll never be more profitable for legacy auto makers so long as they make them in such small numbers.

    A legacy auto maker has to be willing to bite the bullet and take substantial losses for a few or several years in a row, to get over the "hump" of ramping up PEV manufacturing and sales to the level at which it can benefit from the economy of scale, and start making a substantial profit on selling PEVs.

    It looks like VW has committed to that level of investment over the next few years. (And again, I hope it's real this time and not just more greenwashing and/or vaporware from VW.)

    No other legacy auto maker has yet shown any such commitment.

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  13. I think Nissan deserves some credit, too.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  14. ekutter

    ekutter Member

    Speaking of Toyota, I have loved my Prius. It was (still is) an amazingly efficient car and incredibly reliable. But Toyota's dragging of their feet with BEV and push for FC's makes me reluctant to even consider them in the near future. I've lost the desire to give them my support. As I've said before, if the Prime didn't have the limited hatch space making it unusable for my needs, I'd have purchased one by now, even with the limited range. Even if they fixed this, I'd be unlikely to purchase one now. They really do seem to have lost their way.
  15. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I think they deserve credit for being the first to put a BEV into true mass production, rather than the limited production of the 2008 Tesla Roadster. Nissan also deserves credit for spending the money to build two new auto assembly plants and two new battery factories, in the UK and in Tennessee, to satisfy global demand for the Leaf.

    I do not think Nissan deserves any credit, at all, for how they made almost no effort at all to improve the EV tech of the Leaf until 7 years later, when they were confronted with competition from the Chevy Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3. Nissan still has not fixed the problem with premature battery aging.

  16. I don't think VW had nearly the electric focus it does now when it began the eGolf program, so I see these vehicles as sort of a weird orphan. They're no competition against the longer-range cars arriving now, and will soon disappear, unless VW decides to sell them at much lower prices.
  17. altfuelcarguy

    altfuelcarguy Member

    Coincidentally, the TV I have on this morning just ran yet another ad for VW SUVs. They're pushing the guzzling Atlas and Tiguan and ignoring the e-Golf, which is one of the best BEVs.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Inside EVs mobile app
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  18. Mark Miller

    Mark Miller New Member

    I've read this several times, and still don't get it. The lack of a linear relation between RPM and speed is an *advantage*, not a drawback. It keeps the ICE *smaller*, which means it can be in the more efficient part of its regime more often, which is kinda the point. What's to hate?

    The first time I saw an animation of the planetary gear arrangement was an epiphany. Goodness, that's been 15 years....

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