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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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4 motors each driving one wheel obviates any need for an AWD system as it exists today. Each wheel is by definition independently driven, so all the AWD functions will be entirely in software. Heaven help us all . . . 馃檮
The mind boggles imagining the threads we will be seeing in a couple of years where purchasers imagine that some software upgrade has done something to their drivetrain performance. Along with the aftermarket tuner market mods unique to the AWD.
 

Super Moderator
2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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A normal car catches fire in the parking lot and no one cares. Happened a few weeks ago here at Target.

An EV catches fire and it makes the news.
There are sufficient ICE fires so that they are not newsworthy as if it bleeds, it leads. Conventional cars are, well, conventional, and it does not occur to us that the same thing could happen to us. When the ICE car burns, we think it was an unusual event that of course won't befall us.

BEVs have the black sheep thing going against them. They are not yet conventional, so when the next guy's BEV burns we figure it is because he screwed up or maybe that his desire to be different came back to bite him.
Regardless of the statistics around such events, we tend to pass off that which is familiar to us and easily attributed to some cause we understand, and not accept that which is unfamiliar or more difficult to understand.

Hydrocarbon fuels fall into the category of "familiar to us and understood". If a vehicle, new or old, suffers a fuel system leak because of age, neglect, manufacturing defect, or whatever, and a fire results, we report it as a "fuel system fault" - not a "Subaru fault". About the only exceptions to this rule, ever, were the 1970s-era Ford Pinto and Chevrolet / GMC pickups, and both of these still had a triggering event that one could point to for cause (i.e. accident rupturing the fuel tank). The same can be said for oil buildup on poorly maintained engines catching fire - we attribute that to "oil buildup and catching fire", not to the vehicle manufacturer, even for the 1960s-era vehicles that leaked like a sieve and certainly weren't helping to avoid fires.

BEVs, on the other hand, fall under "unfamiliar and difficult to understand". Additionally, they always have the battery and electronics systems considered as part of the vehicle - probably rightfully so - and tightly integrated into its overall vehicle systems management and control. Society doesn't generally understand them. If they suffer a fault with either and a fire results, it's never covered in news events as a "battery pack problem" or an "electronics problem", it's always going to be called a "Tesla problem".

Until we start looking at these sort of things more objectively, the bias is always going to be going against BEVs.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Wow, if people think that the current infotainment system screen in the OBs & the Ascent are big...! From what I can see in the interior pic, looks like Subaru is going to continue putting most of the dash controls on the touch screen.
Designers tend to "pile on" these lower volume, higher technology, higher price concept vehicles with experimental design concepts. They've already got a potential buying audience that's perhaps more willing to try out such concepts, and their attitude seems to be "why not?". It's a rather low risk way to experiment and not to have the risk of failure in their more conventional product lines, which could hurt them much more.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Excellent article. I've often wondered about the dealer service model myself, given the slower degradation of key components.

It's already been noted that used Toyota Prii from taxi companies operating in LA are making it to 500k miles total after having a mandatory fleet retirement and being sold to private parties at 300k. And these are early models with the ICE, it runs fewer hours in stop/go traffic, of course.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Canoo is using steer-by-wire also and claim they have a ton of redundant systems.
Anything-by-wire is not necessarily worse than old-school mechanical linkages and no feedback; it can in fact be better. Anyone here want to claim that carburetors were better than fuel injection?

But much depends on the redundancy built in, the probability of failure, the failsafes built in, the consequences of failure, and of course that all-to-human element, proper maintenance. And from what I see of that latter element, at least in the USA, it can be quite lacking, unlike say, aircraft or heavy machinery or marine equipment.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Then again I was also afraid of ABS (when it first came out) interfering with brake operation and yet now nobody would want a car without it.
ABS is kind of a different beast than the others, inasmuch as the brakes are still connected even if there's a total failure of the ABS system. In this case, the failsafe designed in makes the difference (ABS stuck in the "release" state can still allow the brakes to function; it only accounts for a small displacement of the pedal).
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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I only have a few scant seconds to choose from a bunch of pictures to make a decision while trying to keep my eyes on the road?? And SOA wants me to acknowledge that watching the screen while driving is not a great idea?
Engineering designed the HVAC control system and the screen interface they put it on. As long as they were putting a big screen on the console anyway, they made sure to keep the cost minimized by using it for everything.

Legal designed the signoff acknowledgement where they make sure you don't name them in a lawsuit when the inevitable happens when you fiddle with the HVAC controls. They made sure to keep future litigation costs minimized.

Two different departments. Two different philosophies. Both did their job properly. :)
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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I would not expect the word "plenty" to mean what we think it means for, say, an Outback.

The two issues with high clearance are drag coefficient - lots of air underneath hurts it - and body roll due to a higher CG and lots of mass in the battery pack.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Interesting to me is Toyota staked out hydrogen as the fuel of their future, so its battery vehicles could be relatively short term, 10-15 years, stopgaps.
What makes you think that Toyota made the correct bet here?

Nice thing is all they have to do is swap the power module (out with the lithium battery, in with the hydrogen fuel cell) and it's still an EV after all.
Speaking as an engineer (albeit one without any particular involvement in the automotive industry), life is rarely that simple.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Of course the fact that I am saying "cut them some slack on their first EV" also begs the question of why these two brands let their game slip for so long.
With Toyota it鈥檚 easy to sort out - they got themselves strung out on a ten-year hydrogen fuel science experiment and just couldn鈥檛 admit defeat.

With Subaru, an EV development takes a lot of funding, more than what they can muster, so they had to wait on Toyota to get over their mistake and lead the way for them with a co-developed model.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Post was more about the included OEM 120V AC charger rather than actual standard, but yes, glad they aren鈥檛 using Chademo.
Got it; I was thrown off by the added reference to the Grizzle EVSE, which wasn't related to the OEM charger. I would go with your approach of using the higher capacity EVSE 240 V for home, and the portable OEM 120V for emergency use while traveling.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Believe it or not, I installed a ClipperCreek HCS-50 (40A charging capacity) EVSE in my garage a few years ago, even before having an EV in the family, only because the state of Oregon was subsidizing the installation cost 50% and suddenly announced they would terminate the program. With plenty of warning, I put it in and snagged the rebate - the theory being that it would be needed anyway at some point, and if the house were sold it could be more than recouped. It did have to be hardwired, though, to qualify for the rebate - I guess they thought that subsidizing a plug-in unit could result in sham rebates folleded by reselling it on the open market out-of-state.

Given the current price on this capable unit ($635) is still around the same amount as my pre-subsidy purchase price, I would agree, the OEMs price seems very high.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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I think we can say that Toyota has a low bar for what they consider to be new-fangled. They don't rush into things. They will make major changes when they feel they have no choice, and never want to release product that will embarrass them with teething problems.
The Prius' hybrid synergy drive system in 2000 (USA) and 1997 (Japan) is another exception to this generally true concept, along with the Mirai which you have already cited.

The way I characterize Toyota's business strategy is that they consider themselves too big to fail, and they count on government regulatory bodies to do likewise. This allows them enough time to catch up, once they really know for sure which way things are going. And given the size of their development resources they can apply and the scale of their manufacturing operations, they are often able to leapfrog competition on the business side of things and be the most efficient and low cost at manufacturing.

This does not at all fit with the classic Subaru strategy of carving out niche markets and doing very well to hold off all competition, in spite of inefficiencies from lack of scale and the higher cost of their drive train systems. But for BEV, Subaru has no choice, and will have to follow the Toyota way here.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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I wanted to love the Crosstrek PHEV, but coming from an Outback it's so tiny, and then they filled up 1/3 of what little trunk it had with the batteries. I would love a PHEV or BEV Outback. I would love a Solterra too, but not sure if I want to be a 1st generation buyer.
There was nothing the matter with the Crosstrek PHEV plug-in other than price; it was Toyota's venerable Hybrid Synergy system.

But looking ahead to a brand new Soltera BEV, yea, I'm with you - stay away from 1st generation and let someone else be Subaru's guniua pigs to help them work out the bugs.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Regarding the waiting, I am sure that there will be an Outback EV down the road. So how long do you wait?
Experience with each Subaru Generation shows that in general it's best to at least wait out the mid-generation changeover:
  • Gen 3 suspension issues and the oddball 2005 engine were sorted out pretty well by the 2008 model, although head gaskets took until about 2009 to deal with
  • Gen 4 oil consumption went just a little into 2013, IIRC
  • Gen 5 steering column issues and display were sorted out by 2018, IIRC
  • Gen 6 remains to be seen
My recent concern with EV鈥檚 is the corrosion from road salts.
For those living in the rust belts (I assume you are), I think there will have to be a major reckoning with materials used in electric vehicles. It used to be in the 1960s and 1970s that the drivetrains would always go first, around 100,000 miles, as that was always the way it was with internal combustion engines - body and frame didn't need to outlast them. Later we improved drivetrains to last perhaps a couple hundred thousand miles, and that was accompanied by somewhat improved body panel coating and treatment, and paints. Now looking at BEVs and PHEVs, where the wearout mechanism in the drivetrain won't be that big an issue as battery life improves - we've already seen several used Toyota Prii purchased from the LA taxi fleet at 300k last to 500k easily - it will be time for manufacturers to again re-assess materials used. They will of course want you to believe you have to trade in and will attempt the usual planned obsolescence, but fundamentally the batteries, control electronics, and traction motors will far outlast their ICE counterparts.

I think there's an opening here for a smart manufacturer to sell a very-long-life "core" BEV, and expect that they'll get add-on business not by the customer trading-in and buying a new vehicle, but by keeping the core parts intact and gutting and replacing the added electronics for passenger comfort and self-driving / safety features. This goes against the present model for doing business, and automobile business has always lagged on adapting new business models, of course, but there is opportunity here that someone small might be able to exploit.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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[Supply issues are] a huge problem - hopefully everyone has learned the lessons from the chip fiasco causing all these supply delays.
The fact that there was a previous 1994 semiconductor supply crisis suggests this is not the case.
 
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