Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ending Compliance

After the last two posts on the subject,  you probably already know my views about compliance EVs,  complacent car manufacturers, and inert governments but there seems to be a lot of confusion as to why this is a good idea.  Feedback from the two posts range from outrage that I would require a car company to do something it did not want to do which would destroy our concept of free market enterprise to a sort of "come what may" attitude that expects the company with the best product will rise up from the ashes and dominate like Mater from Cars. 

Well, that is how we want it to work but that is not what is going to happen.  we have all heard the rumors over the 150 MPG carburetor and how the technology was buried to protect the oil industry or the revelation that large format NiMH battery chemistry patents were held by Big Oil simply fueled the notion that big business had to power and money to bury any invention that was revolutionary enough to destroy existing industries. Electric based personal transportation is going to hurt the oil industry badly and forces are uniting against that.  Well, as most stories tend to do, the numbers have probably grown over the years but the basic premise of the rumors might not be as far from fact as we like to think. All rumors have some factual aspects of them to make them believable. This allows us to rationalize the holes in the stories and then perpetuate the myths.

On Facebook, some of the opposing views also had some basis in fact to work with. Some either used current facts or extrapolated current trends to predict what was coming down the road. Well, as we all know, we can think we know what is going to happen but no one really knows what is ahead around the bend.

forcing the car makers to build and sell in certain states is backfiring. notice how Toyota is backing out of the ev market, towards fuel cell?"

They are only getting out because we let them. What they are essentially doing is taking our money and running. By getting into fuel cells very early, they are maximizing subsidies from the government. Which is the reason they were resistant to the EV game. They missed the early payouts... Its not like they will go broke making EVs. They can put out a quality product if they want to. We simply need to create that want in them.

 "I don't want to buy a car from someone who was forced to do it and slapped together something that is going to fall apart on the road in 18 months" 

I can't agree more on this statement, BUT... this is only true if the vehicle remains in a compliance state.  It is easy to understand Toyota biting the bullet and losing ten thousand (or whatever it is) on each RAV 4 EV it sells but that only adds up to 26 million for the 2600 or so units they plan to make.  They probably saved 4 times that much by not developing their own program even after the money to Tesla was paid out.  But how many would they have to manufacture if they had to put it out to 30 or 40 states?  What if they had to manufacture 20,000 vehicles over the next 3 years? All of a sudden, its now a significant number of cars.  Slapping together something that will cost a fortune in support and service down the road is not really an option. Not with those numbers. IOW, larger volumes will force Toyota to put their best foot forward. They can't afford to push that much under the rug

"Take the oil subsidies away and that will force automakers to sell EV's and the ones that don't will perish"

Even if that were true, it would take too long to get going. Automakers are really stuck on themselves...and a 5 year development cycle. What would happen is that they would put out product, find out after a year that it wasn't working? they would put out something running on gas that got better mileage before they would do EVs.  In the best scenario, that is a few years away.  My scenario would have already put EVs on the road by then.  Besides, the premise of this post is ending compliance EVs. I NEVER said I would force others to create an EV if they did not already have one.  There are some places in this country that do not want EVs and I am in no way suggesting that we make them buy them. I am only saying that States who want them should get them.

"I won't drive a compliance car because its a hunk of junk..." 

A rising tide lifts all boats equally.  We have garbage because of compliance. Remove compliance, require a sufficient volume of cars and then they will be forced to make a good product. Profit margins are important but there is also the continuing goal of protecting the nameplate. Toyota has spent decades building a reputation and is not likely to be careless now. They suffered through some big hits with the Prius line with well publicized events like the State Trooper and family killed in a San Diego car crash when their Lexus went out of control due to suspected uncontrolled acceleration.

 This is NOTHING new here.  Toyota did it with the Prius in the 2000's.  Japanese imports did it to the Big three with compacts in the 80's.  It is really the same cycle.  But instead of waiting a decade, I say start the process now.  Nissan has been slow to respond to our needs and why? I say why not? Its not like they have ANYONE breathing down their neck. Who is stealing sales from them? NO ONE, thats who!  Would you be afraid of the RAV if you could already see the last one being made before the first one was sold? Nissan wrote those losses off 3 years ago! Why? because they can!

But what if they had to account for X number of sales per year per region, INDEFINITELY?  Bet they would be more concerned then.  I was fairly certain that the 2015 LEAF on its 4th anniversary would be the year of the bigger battery and I am willing to bet, Nissan did to. But then again, Nissan looked back and back and back and saw.... NOTHING! No footsteps, no threats, no nothing!

So, now we wait another year because no one has stepped up to challenge them. Question; why did Nissan sell 3,000 LEAFs last month?  Because the desire to own an EV is there and there is no one else feeding it.

And the more EVs there are, the better all of them will become. Sure, it will be a bit of reverse engineering, partnership forming, and "patent shaving" (is that a real term?) going on but all of them will encourage each other to build a better car.

**warning!! petition link below**


The petition states in part ;

As Toyota invests in hybrid vehicles and cleans up its larger vehicles to stay competitive, it must also invest in the emerging plug-in electric vehicle (EV) market. Recent marketing and investment decisions by Toyota indicate a lack of commitment to these types of vehicles, but now is the time for automakers to double down, not back out, on this critical piece of the clean vehicle puzzle.

***EDIT*** Rumors floating around that the Chevy Spark and the Kia Soul will be expanding their sales area. We might soon see both in WA Showrooms!

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