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World’s Largest Auto Manufacturer Say “Meh” to EVs

Toyota has not jumped on the EV bandwagon. In fact, according to the New York Times, a top Toyota executive has met regularly with US government officials to attempt to slow down the government’s efforts to push EV sales. From Byron Preston in PJ Media:

It’s no secret that Toyota has cautioned the whole world on shifting to EVs. It’s no secret why Toyota is taking this stance, nearly alone, when other less successful manufacturers have long since bent the knee to the green left.

Toyota has run the numbers and doesn’t think the power grids are ready to handle electrifying billions of cars. We’ve reported on this for months now. Our first piece on Toyota’s power stance went live in December 2020. Our second hit in March 2021. Both of those articles followed Elon Musk, the world’s most prolific EV maker, issuing the same warning: We’re going to need a lot more electric power generation before we can go electric with our cars and trucks.

The answer won’t be wind and solar. Both California and Texas who rely on wind and solar to fill gaps in power generation have fallen short. Texas during a severe winter and California during a hot summer. And that’s without the extra requirements of folks charging their EVs.

An expectation that EVs will become the norm in the next nine years seems a tad overblown. The number of EVs in the vehicle fleet in the US has not exceeded 2% in the past four years, and it doesn’t seem to be projected to do so. If the cars were becoming more popular, it would seem that the numbers should be increasing as a percentage of the total fleet.

If anything, the sales of EVs dropped around 3% last year. It seems that the reduction in government subsidies, range anxiety, length of charging time, the tiny size of many models, and the lack of charging stations all combine to make EVs a more difficult sale.

These pesky facts aren’t in the headlines from Silicon Valley and Detroit. We should be tracking EV sales closely and ensuring that government edict doesn’t destroy the ICE fuel marketplace. With gas prices increasing nearly $2 a gallon in less than six months this year, perhaps it’s time for the government to back off and let the free marketplace do its thing. If we really care about the less advantageous folks in our population, we will do everything to lower fuel and energy costs, not raise them.

By the way, Toyota is agnostic on the cars it builds. It seems to create low cost, high quality vehicles that people want to buy. Maybe we should listen to someone who not only knows what they are doing, but also performs.


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I know — It’s Not New Year’s Eve

In December 2018 I made some predictions. I noted at the time that predictions were easy to make, since no one really checked up a year later as to how you did. Well I tripped over these predictions while reading some past blogs, and I repeat them here for your edification. Remember — these were made for New Years 2019.

At this time of year we are supposed to write stories about the future. I can do that. It’s easy. I can say whatever I want, and a year from now everyone will have forgotten all about it. No one will pull my prognostications off the world wide web and show me just how wrong I was.

I predict for 2019:

  • There will be more consolidation in the parking operator side of the industry. VC inflow will enable huge purchases.
  • At least one of the largest legacy companies will be gobbled up by a smaller competitor.
  • On street technology – you know – meters, enforcement, pay by cell will see a brand-new company. It will threaten the existing suppliers
  • License Plate Recognition will continue to lead the way in garage access control. Pricing for the technology will plummet, making it affordable for even the smallest locations.
  • There will be an entirely new way to manage large parking facilities. Operators will lease a portion of a garage and that portion (number of spaces) will change based on time of day, day of week, and the weather.
  • Autonomous vehicles will slowly fade from the headlines as it will begin to be understood that self-driving cars are more difficult to actually build than to think about.
  • Hollywood will make a movie that people living in flyover country will want to see.
  • California will put the “bullet train” on indefinite hold.
  • San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland will figure out ways to deal with their homeless problem.
  • Google will become an active player in the parking industry.
  • Parking will not have a seat at the ‘mobility’ table because we will continue to be too busy parking cars to care.
  • I will permanently lose 15 pounds.
  • There will be a technology, previously unannounced, that will force a reevaluation of just how we manage parking operations.

There – remember, you have to hold me to this in December 2019.

How did I do?  I will confess I didn’t lose the 15 pounds. However, the rest — Not bad if I do say so myself.


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60 over 60

We are inundated with lists. If you check the New York Times, Forbes, or any of the other major media outlets, you find lists of gazillionaires, houses over 100 million, women, blacks, young up and comers, 20 over 20, 30 under 30, 40 under 40 and just about anything you can name. However maybe its my curmudgeon coming through, but I haven’t seen many lists of those successful folks over say, 60.

The most attended seminars at PIE 2021 were those featuring those members of the industry with a bit of snow on the roof. It seemed that many of the younger members of our industry are starved for the wisdom of those who have been around for a while.

Any number of young attendees came up to me and told me how much they welcomed the insight of those who have 20, 30, and even, dare I say it 40 years working in the parking trenches. When we planned the “125 Years in Parking” or “The Fundamental Things Still Apply” or “The Original Nine” or “But on the Contrary” we didn’t realize just how popular they would be.

Clyde, Barbara, Brandy, Mark, Roamy, and the “Original Nine” supporters of PT all brought a different view that we typically see at a trade show seminar. Most often some youngster holds forth on the latest tech, cloud, app, or design. This august group called on their experience not to belittle the newbies, but to show just how important it is not to forget the fundamentals of running a garage or parking program at a city or university. “New ideas” are great and welcomed, but often they need to be tempered with “when we tried that 20 years ago, this happened.”

We come to trade events to get “new” ideas that we hope will make our jobs easier and our organizations run like well-oiled machines. But in truth, are not those ideas often “new” to us and not necessarily “new” to the industry. When Brian and Brandy talk about the customer experience are they not rephrasing a story that is as old as commerce itself. How do we make the customer number one?

Over the next few months, the pages of PT will be filled not only with ‘new’ and ‘tech’ but also with the wisdom of the ages. Newbies will hold forth with their ideas, and then those more senior will comment.

Maybe we all can learn something.


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PIE 2021 — In Person, Face to Face, in a word Awesome

Such a great time. Thank you PT for blazing the trail and being first!

It is soooo great to be back! Thank you Parking Today Media for being bold and getting us all on the path to normalcy by putting on your show in person!

This is what it’s all about! Awesome being able to show our customers the power of the Platform

Great confluence of events during Day 2 of PIExpo2021. Lunch set up directly in front of the booth, which made it real easy to visit with attendees. Great conversations with potential customers, and with potential dealers, who can work with those customers.

It is so nice to connect with new and current clients. And, to have face to face conversations with our peers is just tremendous. No more video screens, lol.

Come visit us tomorrow between 10 am and 1 pm. It is really a pleasure to be back in person, I missed it.

Our team had a blast at PIE2021! It was nice to see industry friends in person and learn about the latest technology and trends in the market

Finishing strong and what a great day. Thank you to everyone for stopping by and seeing us! Safe travels home and we look forward to seeing you at the next show. Cheers!

Just a few of the comments heard on the floor at PIE 2021. The theme running through the show was simply “Its great to be back, face to face. We needed to get a toe in the water and PIE was the place to do it.”

Here at PT are humbled by the outpouring of excitement and adventure we felt during the event last week in Dallas. It takes courage to attend the first of anything. Kudos go out to the exhibitors who made this happen. The parking industry is definitely open for business.



Maybe OZ Could use a Wizard

I spoke with a friend in Australia and his normally happy upbeat self seemed beaten down. His business was good, he said, and his family healthy, but he told me the story of rolling lock downs in his country. He said that they have been having lock downs (at least five) over the past year, some as long as 125 days, some as short as 25 days. He said that it is rumored that another one will be coming in a few days.

The worst thing they can do to you in prison is put you solitary. I feel for our friends in OZ. The on again, off again lives they are leading has to be soul wrenching. Its like they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. My friend tells me he hopes a return to normal by year end, but then he said that at this time last year. He said that Australia’s strong economy saw them through one year of the pandemic, however he wasn’t certain just how well it would do after two years. Quantas, the most profitable airline on the planet, lost over two billion last year (and laid off 8,000 people), so far this year it’s doing better, having lost only one billion so far.

I understand the country has an app that everyone carries on their phone. It tracks everywhere you go. If a store you visited finds a person that tested positive for covid, then everyone that visited that store is contacted and placed in quarantine for 10 days. Of course this is only temporary. Remember what Milton Friedman said: “There is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.”

My biggest fear is what lockdowns and quarantines do to the public’s psyche. They create fear. They take away the very real need for human contact. The worst is their inconsistency. You reach a point where you don’t know what to believe any more. Doctor “A” says one thing, Governor “B” says the opposite, Health bureaucrat “C” says something else entirely. The average person isn’t stupid. After a while they believe no one. And enforcement becomes a matter for the police state.

At some point, you wonder what to prefer. A rough and tumble inconsistent approach like here in the US, or a 100% follow the rules lockdown like in Australia. America isn’t perfect, by any means. Some states like Florida, South Dakota, Texas and Georgia are wide open, and the world isn’t coming to an end, other states like California are opening up after tremendous upward pressure from the citizenry.

Its unfortunate that politicians can’t seem to even follow their own edicts (follow the science) but then, that’s sort of what you would expect. Perhaps Australia is so far behind in vaccinations because its health leaders were so focused on prevention, that they forgot to place orders for the vaccines. Happened in the EU, too.

I’m happy that we are having PIE this coming week. Humans need personal contact and we are doing that every day, every hour, every minute. Nothing is needed more right now than face to face contact. We crave it, we need it, and by golly we are going to get it.

See you in Dallas.


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Why is this Trade Event So Important?

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.                      ….Teddy Roosevelt.

It is so easy to go with the status quo. Our status quo over the past 18 months has been hunker down, zoom calls, and sit at home. Things are opening up, but taking a big step and attending the first trade event halfway across the country is courageous. I am in awe.

PIE 2021 will not be the largest event we have ever had. It will, however, be the best. It will be the best because nearly 900 people will meet for the first time in a year and a half. They will hug, shake hands, and smile and talk. PIE 2021 will break the log jam and set the theme for the upcoming year. The IPMI, NPA, regional events, and PIE 2022 will all reflect the reopening of the parking industry that takes place next week in Dallas.

Exhibitors will renew relationships with colleagues and partners, attendees will meet new friends and see folks they have missed for months. As important as those meetings are, those people will prove to themselves and others that, yes they can. They can get out there and do business. They can drive and fly and stay in hotels and make things happen. They will show everyone that the parking industry is open for business.

It takes courage to be the first. Tom Wolfe spoke about ‘the right stuff.’ Well, the exhibit hall, conference rooms, hotel restaurants, bars and rooms, all will be filled with ‘the right stuff.’ I’m proud to number PIE 2021 attendees as my friends and acquaintances. You are ‘doing the best thing you can do.’


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Mary Responds to my EV Blog

I thought Mary’s comments on my screed yesterday on EV’s was important enough to bring it to light. It follows:  With my comments.

1. EVs still aren’t cost effective over life cycle without huge govt subsidies. But if battery costs go down and range goes up as expected they will be within 2-5 years. Maintenance costs are much lower (far fewer moving parts) and there is plenty of power and performance. Then the market will make them preferred over ICE. So we will need EV chargers soon. Granted — However why not just let the marketplace work, as you predict it will, and forget this government intervention that will require us to drive EVs. It may take a tad longer, but then we will have time to get the infrastructure in place.

2. Whether an EV is better life cycle for the environment right now does depend on the source of the power used to recharge it as well as the particular models, but here is a good article on the topic. https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/when-do-electric-vehicles-become-cleaner-than-gasoline-cars-2021-06-29/ With100% coal, a Tesla model 3 is cleaner than an ICE sedan after year 5. With 100% hydro/clean energy it is cleaner after 6 mos. and with the average US mix of power it is cleaner after 1 year. Sounds pretty environmentally friendly right now in any place that isn’t relying heavily on coal. I have no argument that EVs are cleaner than ICE. I do have an issue with the fact that promoting EVs in China and India will most likely not help environmentally, due to the prevalence of coal fired power. The numbers seem to be that if we were 100% EV, the air would be about 30% cleaner. What about the other 70%?

3. My electric company here in Indiana is upgrading the grid as we speak. They are trimming trees in my neighborhood this week to facilitate it. Want to see the letter from my utility?  More power (pun intended) to your Hoosier utilities. You have about 7,000 EVs in Indiana. You have plenty of time to ramp up. We have over half a million in California. We are experiencing brown outs. We have reduced our generating capacity by depending on wind and solar. There are no letters from my utility on upgrading the grid. PGE is simply trying to keep up, and not doing a very good job of it. Our state has prevented them from clear cutting around power lines. Guess what. We get wildfires. Not everywhere is an enlightened at Indiana.

4. Obviously, mining the natural resources required for batteries is a big concern. Contrary to your statement, the US has the largest reserves of Lithium in the world and China is assembling them not providing the raw materials. Here is a good article about that. Can we trust our entrepreneurial spirit to figure it out? https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/business/lithium-mining-race.html  I see your NY Times article and raise a Forbes article.https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidblackmon/2021/03/16/rising-us-lithium-industry-a-potential-quandary-for-environmental-activists/?sh=636668c67691 Environmentalists are caught in a NIMBY quandary. The minerals used in batteries come from many places, mostly Australia. True, assembly is in China, but natural resources are located there, too. I commented that we have plenty of Lithium in the ground but getting it is messy. Our environmental betters don’t like messy.

5. Way too many people are arguing for “fast charging” all over the place so cars can be fully recharged in 30 minutes. They argue it is needed to overcome range anxiety before purchasing one. But I don’t think it really isn’t needed anywhere but on highways (for long trips) and strains the grid if all the commuter cars are charged at 8 am for 30 minutes or at an apartment complex at 6 pm when they get home. The average shopper in their home area doesn’t need a full recharge at the shopping center. The vast majority of cars at a destination only need “topping off”. We aka parking industry needs to be charging for the power and cost of installing the chargers to encourage people to fully charge at home at night and without a big investment in home infrastructure, not for free at work or the shopping center using a true fast charger that costs $50,000 each to install. The problem is all those folks who park on the street at night because they have no where else to park. Most of these are poor. So where are they supposed to get their EV power. We middle class folks can afford garages and can afford to ‘top up’ at will. But as usual, its the poor that take it in the neck. Reread your comment 4. It fits perfectly into the upper middle class scenario. What about everyone else. I guess they can walk or take a train or bus.

6. We need power management systems, again to spread out recharging across all the EV charges in a parking facility, both at multifamily residential and workplaces, so we don’t have to install enough power to recharge 30% or more of spaces simultaneously and/or make people move their car after it is recharged. Eventually a car with autonomous parking capability can be programmed to move itself, but that isn’t happening for a long time and by then the charging technology may change substantially. And many may not allow a parking garage’s smart communication system to tell their car it is time to move to or from a charging station. Yep — We need.  Agreed.

So yea EVs are not yet ready for prime time, ie, radical increases in market share of new car sales, but by 2030 they very well may be. Even OPEC admits that and all my middle east clients are desperately trying to build alternatives to an oil-based economy. And by then old fogeys like you and me John won’t be arguing over what is best for the environment and climate change. It will be a done deal except for any small pockets of stubborn climate change deniers. I pray you and I are around in nine years to see if this all comes to pass. Ten years ago we were predicting that self driving cars were going to take over the transportation system. Now we are saying ‘not so much.’ In the meantime, I stand by my prediction. No matter what the government attempts to do, market pressures will out. We will see a blend of all types of transport, all types of power generation. What I hope is that we get away from a binary, all or nothing approach. Having EVs or bullet trains, or whatever required by a central planning monolith is a non starter. At least I hope it is.


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EVs and Unintended Consequences

An environmental realist who spoke at PIE a few years ago commented on politicians who got all hot and bothered about the latest environmental fad and then for whatever reason allowed their excitement to go fallow when they were out of office, indicating that they were simply riding a wave, and had no real skin in the game.

Today we have states like California mandating EV only sales within 15 years and considering outlawing any new fossil fuel filling stations within 5 years. Folks aren’t lining up to buy EVs but that’s ok, we will force them to do so.

The pesky little law of unintended consequences is kicking in, and the Golden State is having brown outs due to lack of electrical generating capacity. Seems that replacing power plants with solar and wind isn’t cutting it. And that’s with less than 2 percent of our vehicle fleet EV.

There have been no plans for increasing generating capacity, rebuilding the power grid, or anything like that to deal with electrical demand when all those electron guzzling cars show up in a decade or so. We have seen no proposals, no plans, no activity in this area, zero zip.

Its easy to pass laws. But how do you deal with the consequences of those laws. Our governor here in California has signed executive orders to allow power generation (from ICE engines in mothballed ships) to help fill the void caused by lack of wind and solar power.  Hmmm If we were so smart in passing laws to curtail nuclear and gas fired power generation, where were the folks who were those voices in the wilderness talking about brown outs and the like.

California Governor Newsom has skin in this game. He is being recalled and I’m guessing he doesn’t want his supporters voting in the dark.

But back to EVs. First of all, they appear to be an environmental disaster. The minerals required to make the batteries for the suckers come from China. They are available here, but our green brothers and sisters have fought for laws to prevent the mining, which they say destroys the environment. However, forever NIMBY, these folks seem to think that destroying the environment in China is OK.  You know China,  that environmentally cogent country that is building coal fired power plants by the hundreds to keep its population in electricity.

From an article posted at Parknews.biz in autoverdict.com:

According to KPMG, there are 31,753 public EV charging facilities in the United States but only 4,325 of these have DC fast chargers with 17,409 outlets. These are compared to 168,000 gas stations, which usually have at least eight pumps per station. Estimates are that it would cost more than $2 billion just to set up homes and workplaces with enough charges to meet the needs anticipated in 2025 in the top 100 metropolitan areas; and exponentially more to match the nation’s current gasoline distribution network.

These are not simple problems. People who live in low income areas, who don’t have garages, who park on the street, or maybe in apartment buildings, won’t easily have access to EV charging stations. Since most people will charge their cars overnight, that means that those folks will be out of luck. Or at least greatly inconvenienced. Remember, at best, charging your car with the fastest charger, takes about 30 minutes, vs what, five minutes at a filling station.

As is usually the case, its our less advantaged citizens who get it in the neck.

Wouldn’t it be better to simply let the marketplace do its job? Why do we have to have a binary solution, all or nothing?  Let folks who want EVs buy them, allow the power companies to slowly fill the need for charging power as required, and get on with our lives. It seems to me that mandating an impossible solution to a problem isn’t the answer. All it does is allow my favorite law, that of unintended consequences, to kick in.

Of course, all this may just fade away, like the California Bullet Train, when reality kicks in and politicians have another pony to ride.

Just sayin.


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But I Like the Taste of Coke, Now and Then

I know politics do tend to creep into this blog from time to time. I readily admit it is difficult to keep them out, particularly if you are passionate about one thing or another. However let it be said that I offer you, dear reader, the ability to answer anything you find offending as long as it can be read in a family setting.

That having been said, I have been musing on major corporations’ leadership holding forth on political issues. It seems to be happening more and more these days. Whether its Coke, or Delta Airlines, or Nike, or My Pillow, or any one of the social media gazillionaires, or Chic-fil-et, or the head of Amazon, they just can’t seem to keep their political opinions to themselves.

But, you say, they are individuals and should be free to say what they will. Yes, I say, but they also have a responsibility to their brand, and those who buy it, to their fans, so to speak, to represent them on the world stage, all of them.

Most probably live in a bubble west of the 405, in Silicon Valley, in Seattle, Boston, the upper East Side, or within the beltway, and all their friends believe as they do so naturally, they believe that everyone believes believe the same. But as we learn in elections, fully half of the people don’t. Sad but true.

We went to dinner years ago with a friend and his wife in a trendy restaurant in Brentwood. I looked up and noticed Jane Fonda was sitting nearby. My friend, whose politics could best be described as somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, glanced at her and said, “I can’t stand her politics, but won’t miss any of her movies. She is a great actress.”

I was a little surprised by his reaction. I had listened to him bemoan politicians of all stripes and their failings and the like. But then I realized that the politicians he disliked were politicians, not actors, or heads of corporations, or entrepreneurs, or smart folks who provided stuff I like. Politicians deserved his rancor, from his point of view, because they actually acted on their beliefs and those acts affected him.

That same friend told me the other day that he thought Jeff Bezos should be elected King. All because of the wonders of Amazon. He feels that the online store is one of the greatest things on the internet. He, a software engineer, believes that the company can do no wrong, and is reshaping how we do business. I’m sure he also feels that Bezos’ politics are anathema. But he looks as Bezos through a lens as to what he has accomplished, not his belief system.

Its true that large corporations give to all sides in political fundraising. They want to be on the side of the winner no matter who it is. Boycotting one company or another because some bozo is for or against your bozo is, for me, a nonstarter. It has taken me a lifetime to figure it out, but I like the taste of a cool Coke now and then, think Delta is a great airline, enjoy my Nikes, love to follow Linkedin, and even Twitter now and then, and live daily on Amazon. I have never tasted a Chic-fil-et, but that’s because I’m not a chicken fan.

I would prefer if these CEOs kept their politics to themselves, but frankly, my response has become, “so what.” Pass the coke, its hot outside.


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I had to laugh…

Columnist Nicholas Goldberg, writing in the LA Times, has opined that we are seeing a rash of folks running for office that have no previous political experience. He blames this on the previous administration’s influx of ‘citizen’ politicians and seems horrified that this will bring our government to its knees with all these amateurs running around loose in statehouses and in Washington DC.

The problem with professional politicians is just that, they are professional. They are doing the job to make a living but there is no seeming recourse if they fail. You can list hundreds of politicians of all parties that have been in office for years and the problems that they came into office to fix are not only still in place, but are worse.

It isn’t that they are incompetent, but that they have, after a couple of years, tasted power and love it. They want to retain that power and to do so they must raise money, a lot of money. That comes from people who are attempting to buy favors and often do. Then decisions which should be common sense are replaced with decisions that mean money in the campaign coffers of the folks making those decisions.

I wish I could be like Nicholas and point the finger at one group or another and wring my hands ‘if only’ the electorate were smarter and elected those that believe or vote like I do, all would be right with the world. But dammit, I can’t. Both sides are equally bad. And the electorate is smarter than you think.

If that wasn’t the case, why does the political pendulum swing back and forth so often. We elect folks from one side of the political spectrum and then just four or eight years later we vote the bastards out and the pendulum swings back to the other side. One year we elect Ronald Reagan, a few years later Bill Clinton, then George Bush, then Barack Obama, then Donald Trump and then Joe Biden. The voters moved back and forth. Usually electing a congress of the other party to ensure that no one gets carried away.

Nick thinks that folks should start out in school boards and city councils and get some experience at a ‘low level’ before jumping into state legislatures and the congress. I look at things from the opposite point of view. I think that school boards and city councils may be the most important with the value of the position decreasing as the office gets further and further away from home.

Schools, police, streets and parks, fire protection, hospitals, delivering electricity and water, ensuring building codes are met, all seem to me to be more important to the average person than mandating the kind of car you can drive or spending trillions on programs that have proven to have no measurable effect on anything. But that’s just me.

Nicholas Goldberg picked half a dozen examples of amateurs that are running for office including Matthew McConaughey, Andrew Yang, Caitlyn Jenner, Andrew Guiliani, and spent half the column bemoaning Guiliani’s (he’s Rudy’s son) running for Governor of New York. I’m guessing there are hundreds if not thousands running for office who have the vast experience of Andrew (mostly on the golf course) and would probably be OK.

I realize that high powered columnists for the main stream media know more than backwater bloggers like me and are probably right in their opinions. But I I can’t get past the William F. Buckley quote when he said that he would “rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” Smart guy, Bill.


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