Lexus EV conspiracy theories

Discussion in 'EV (Electric Vehicle) Discussion' started by hkmb, Sep 6, 2021.

  1. hkmb

    hkmb Senior Member

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    I thought I'd pop on here after watching this British review of the Lexus UX 300e, the first Lexus EV. Since you're all Toyota people, I thought you might be interested.



    It's weird. This is a new car, but it looks to be exceptionally bad as an EV.

    • The range is pitiful (less than 200 miles WLTP, so possibly less than 120 miles on a cold day). That's fine for a city car like a Fiat 500, but not for a small luxury SUV.
    • Charging is CHAdeMO, which almost no-one uses any more, at least in Europe, China and Australia (I don't know what's going on in the US or Japan).
    • Charging is extraordinarily slow: 75+ minutes for 10-80% (which is only going to add about 100 miles of range).
    • And it's expensive: more in the UK than the similarly-sized Mercedes EQA, which is the same sort of size and a similarly-premium brand (and, like the UX, an ICE car adapted to an EV, with the compromises that entails) but with better equipment and range; and about on a par with the bigger and purpose-built Audi Q4 e-tron.
    • And there's no built-in satnav, so no built-in guide to the chargers that you'll have to find every couple of hours.

    It seems a good 5-10 years - maybe more - behind the competition. It's not like Toyota doesn't have money or technology, so it seems remarkable that they'd manage to build something so abysmal. I can't imagine anyone buying one: it just does not make sense as a value proposition in any way.

    But the comments underneath the video were intriguing. There was lots of speculation that this car is deliberately bad: people saying that Toyota has lobbied the US government against BEVs, and that it's still committed to hydrogen fuel-cell technology and may want to undermine the viability of BEVs. They're saying that perhaps Toyota wanted to build a bad EV to show that EVs are unviable.

    I can understand why they're saying this, because I find it hard to believe that Toyota could accidentally make something this bad. But I don't know much about Toyota's position on BEVs, and I find it hard to believe that they could think that their making a bad EV would somehow undermine the progress being made by Hyundai-Kia, Stellantis, VW, Ford and others. So I am interested in what the thinking behind this might have been.

    Do any of you have any thoughts? What do you think might be going on here?
     
  2. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    "It's not like Toyota doesn't have money or technology, so it seems remarkable that they'd manage to build something so abysmal."

    That was basically my impression when first seeing the Prius Prime. It was Toyota's second PHEV, and they had to know what people disliked about competitors models. Yet it had the same flaws in cargo and passenger space as other first gen PHEVs.

    I think this Lexus is just a compliance car for China. They also need some type of competitor to others' BEVs in Europe, and selling some there may help with production costs.

    Electrify America announced they won't be putting in any new CHAdeMO plugs, so it is unofficially dead here. I think China and CHAdeMO are working on a standard for faster charging. I'm guessing this Lexus has CHAdeMO because that is what Toyota had on the parts shelf. Note that the battery is fan cooled, so faster charge times might be bad for the battery.
     
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  3. hkmb

    hkmb Senior Member

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    The idea of it being just a compliance car would certainly make sense. It's clearly not been designed to sell.
     
  4. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    The vehicle is an "engineer build". It's a process used to final test your knowledge gained so far before taking the next big step. Within confines of existing resources (both hardware & software), you are challenged to champion an effort to produce the best all-around product. In other words, that is a practice effort, preparation for what's to come... a learning exercise to shake out weak points. That's what you do when you want to be thorough about a major commitment.

    We already know what that commitment is too, the upcoming "bZ" line of vehicles. That is Toyota's new e-TNGA platform which allows a wide variety of BEV configurations... exactly what UX300e does not. By actually participating in that engineering build, you end up discovering what the challenges to come will be. That how you confirm investment money is allocated properly. There's a lot at stake. Comprehensive research is priceless.

    Think about it. We already know what bZ4X is targeted to achieve. That first offering will be a new dedicated BEV model, a really big deal for Toyota. In the presentation for it from late last year, they sighted their challenge "to secure quality & durability and minimize cost". Sound familiar? That's the very same thing they did with PHV, specifically Prius Prime. It was an effort so successful, we now have the high-praise, high-demand RAV4 Prime.

    I find it quite telling by those who criticize Toyota for wasting time or dragging their feet. You don't just dive into the pool expecting to win gold within lots of practice. UX300e is that practice. So what if it uses outdated standards, like CHAdeMO charging? We know there will be an adapter available. We have also been shown that bZ4X will feature CCS charging. Being forced to find a way to squeeze out as much as possible with what you have already is how you learn to make the next better.

    Don't forget about the new battery technology either. We know there are better things to come. Even before achieving solid-state design, there is the benefit of eliminating cobalt & nickel from existing lithium chemistry. There's an expectation of hybrid demand to explode, as much as a 600% increase by 2025. That's a lot of potential for any technology using batteries. Keep in mind, all segments are being targeted (B, C, D, E) for electrification. Being comprehensive takes time & practice.
     
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  5. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Ah! The Gen-1 of Toyota EVs. ... Makes sense posts a former Gem-1 Prius owner with over 125,000 miles on the car at 52 MPG. I wish them well ... especially after they close and smooth out that hideous grill.

    Bob Wilson
     
  6. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    What we recognize as Gen-1 is actually the successor to the Prius Toyota offered only in Japan, starting way back in 1997. For those who program in lower-level languages, where the first number in a counting sequence is 0 rather than 1, we refer to that Prius as Gen-0. It is a model we never got here in the United States. That one used D-cells in the battery-pack. We got the improvement, the introduction of prismatic packaging.

    Way back then, Toyota set the precedence of requiring patience. I got to see that original model in person. The screen wasn't touch-sensitive and the engine delivered fewer horsepower. It was quite interesting to witness that beginning. Waiting was just fine, totally worth it. Now, something similar is happening with bZ4X.

    We see others getting their feet wet too, just like what started it all in the first place. Remember the PNGV (Partnership for the Next Generation Vehicle) program, where Toyota was excluded from funding? That nurtured what resulted in a provoke others came to regret. Think about how Toyota is on its own schedule still, going about delivering their own evolutionary design, not following the others.

    Antagonists spin that behavior by Toyota as "feet dragging" or "kicking & screaming". But when you look for evidence, you find there have been 4 rollouts of BEV already. Each are obviously compliance. But since you have to deliver something anyway, why not an engineering build? Challenge the army of resources available to exploit hardware & software to squeeze out even better performance than originally designed. After all, that's what competing with other automakers is about.

    Watch for the upcoming detail about bZ4X late this year. I suspect that will be in the second-half of November, during the Auto Show in LA.
     
    #6 john1701a, Sep 6, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2021
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  7. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    Gen1 might actually be the aborted iQ EV for models using Li-ion. That was designed with the thinking customers didn't want more out of their BEV than what lead-acid or NiMH could provide.

    Japan had a LEV program that started in the '70s with lab level research into various technologies to reduce vehicle emissions within cities. Eventually, it provided subsidies for EVs and hybrids that were introduced to the Japanese market. Toyota and the first Prius were beneficiaries of government funding to that program.

    The BEVs that came out of that program were cutting edge for the time. Like the EV1, they used lead acid or NiMH, which resulted in short range city cars. These results ossified in the upper management of Japanese car companies. They couldn't see the potential Li-ion brought to plug ins. So Toyota shackled the iQ EV with all the flaws of those early BEVs; a range less than 50 miles with high price tag. Without Toyota USA speaking up, the Prius Prime may have ended up with an EV range not much more than the PiP.

    Nissan did release the Leaf earlier. It was serious attempt at an affordable BEV for the time. That was a decision of a Lebanese CEO of a French company though. It likely even shared a lot with Renault's Zoe; the current generations use the same platform.

    The EV side of the latest Rav4 EV was done by Tesla. Don't see how much learning Toyota engineers got from that. This UXe has more in common with the Leaf. For much more price, even after taking into the segment difference. The Leaf is 26k to 33k pounds in the UK, with the latter having more range than the Lexus. At least Toyota choose not to use passive air cooling.

    Nissan Leaf review | CAR Magazine


    Everybody is looking to reduce Cobalt and Nickel from batteries. Tesla and some Chinese EV makers even eliminated it by using LiFePhos in some models. Toyota slow entry to BEVs likely has more to do with simply not having the battery supplies available to them, not because of the available chemistry. Concerns of Nickel didn't get them to stop using NiMH.

    Solid state lithium has some great potential. Being a major game changer isn't going to be one of them on their introduction. Their cost will hinder that.

    Who is making a CCS to CHAdeMO adapter?
     
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  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    toyota apologists :rolleyes:
     
  9. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    Looking into something else, I came across this.

    "But Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda was happy to explain the company’s reasoning for their rare hydrogen excursion. “Since it’s powered by hydrogen it emits almost no CO2,” he says. “We wanted to show the world one way Japan can be carbon neutral. And how we can benefit from a hydrogen powered society. Since we made this statement, I, as the chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, have been asking the Japanese government to take the necessary steps and increase the number of carbon-neutral options. This is because, if all cars become battery-electric, one million jobs will be lost in Japan.”
    Toyota Races World’s First Hydrogen Race Car To Promote Alternative To Electric Cars
     
  10. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    Look around. Notice the rest of the industry is still struggling to grow beyond the initial audience. No amount of apologizing changes that. It's a challenging situation requiring multiple approaches.

    As for the name calling, that's pretty sad. Too bad if they don't follow your preferred approach.
     
  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i don't have a preferred approach, toyota makes mistakes like everybody else
     
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  12. Zythryn

    Zythryn Senior Member

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    Care to define that?
    What do you mean, “grow beyond initial audience”?

    I agree, we aren’t yet beyond the early adopters (if that is what “initial audience” means).
    However, we are seeing more and more people who have no interest in eliminating gas, buying electric cars. To me, this is a good thing.
     
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  13. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    The industry is struggling to grow supply to meet demand. Most of them discounted the appeal of plug ins, and didn't take the steps to ensure battery supply for when growth in sales happened. Toyota once had that insight for NiMH.

    Friend will be replacing his F150 soon. Whatever he gets will likely be handed off to the SO in a few years, and he is considering the F150 Lightning for then.
     
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  14. Zythryn

    Zythryn Senior Member

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    That is awesome:)

    We had a visit from a neighbor from our old neighborhood.
    Big car guy, loves the classics, convertibles and muscle cars.
    He dropped by, because he thought I would enjoy seeing his Mustang Mach-e :)

    He got the same color (or close at least) as his first car, which happened to be a Mustang:D
    One of the things he most enjoyed about it was how convenient 'filling up' was. He also loved the quality of the drive and the muscle the car had off the line.
     
  15. hkmb

    hkmb Senior Member

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    I get that, but it seems odd in many ways.

    First, surely this can't be the sum of their knowledge so far. Toyota isn't a low-tech company, but the knowledge and technology in this car isn't up to the standards we'd see at Ford, Hyundai-Kia, Tata, VW, Stellantis, or several Chinese companies. The tech in the electric UX is eclipsed by much older - and cheaper - cars like the e-Niro and the Kona Electric, and it's years behind things like the Ioniq 5 or Mach E or the four-year-old Model 3. And many of those cars use bought-in battery technology from companies like LG Chem, Samsung, CATL, BYD or Panasonic: it's commercially available and could easily have been applied to the UX.

    And second, if it is an engineer build, and if it is the level their knowledge is up to before they proceed to the bZs, then why would they release it commercially? In the best-case scenario, they sell almost none of them, and the electric UX doesn't make it into the public consciousness. In the worst-case scenario, people do become aware of this commercially-available car: that would undermine consumer confidence in Toyota EVs in comparison to American, European, Chinese and Korean rivals. It makes Toyota look like it's a technology laggard, and that it's happy to charge high prices for weak products.

    I know that's not the case, and I'm sure the bZs will be very good. But why undermine the progress the bZs will make by releasing the electric UX when it's clearly not good enough?

    Yeah, but I'd practice in a private pool before I turned up at the Olympics.

    I get why they'd make the UX300e. But I don't understand why they'd sell it.
     
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  16. hkmb

    hkmb Senior Member

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    This bit seems like motivation for launching a terrible BEV as the opposite of a proof-of-concept. It seems in line with what the Autotrader BTL comments were saying.
     
  17. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    If you ever get a chance to witness an innovation tournament, you'd understand. It's an opportunity to apply what you know in a different manner to achieve a short-term goal and hopefully learn something in the process. That type of exercise can be very rewarding for the participant. Ideas emerging from those events can be a gain for the sponsor too, a takeaway for long-term benefit. Toyota's practice has been to release a limited product into a limited market to collecting real-world data for that purpose. UX300e fits the pattern, especially when you take its generous warranty into account. That is a win-win for consumer & business. As an engineer myself, I find it quite fulfilling when chances to wander off path come about. Even with a small scope and not using the latest resources, those side projects typically turn out to be a great learning experience.
     
  18. hkmb

    hkmb Senior Member

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    I get that, and the UX300e would be fine for that.

    But this is a commercial release, at a higher price than, for example, an Enyaq or a Mach E or an Ioniq 5, but with a consumer offering that is closer to a Leaf, if that. It's not a win-win for the consumer: anyone who buys it is getting a car with less range, poorer equipment, slower charging and less room, but for more money.

    Even some sort of limited release - either free or as a cut-price lease - to existing Lexus customer would make sense. Or offering them as courtesy cars for people who didn't have to go very far while their car was being serviced. I remember Nissan did something with the Leaf, offering cut-price leases to local governments so that they could get such information. There should be loads of opportunities to do this sort of thing to collect real-world data. But trying to sell a substandard car directly to consumers for a very high price doesn't seem the way to do it.

    So I understand entirely why they'd make a UX300e for limited trials, but not why they'd sell it.
     
  19. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    Not anyone. We have see this history already. It fits the pattern. Toyota is being selective about audience.
     
  20. hkmb

    hkmb Senior Member

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    So are you saying that they don't actually expect to sell this car to ordinary consumers at retail price, but that they've just released it for regulatory reasons or whatever but actually expect most models to go through cut-price leases or other arrangements to a "selected audience" who will provide feedback and data? If that's the case, that kind of makes sense.
     
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