Home » Why PHEVs Make Sense, EV Off-Road Performance, Chinese Car Manufacturing, Why Copying Tesla Is A Bad Idea: My Chat With Munro & Associates

Why PHEVs Make Sense, EV Off-Road Performance, Chinese Car Manufacturing, Why Copying Tesla Is A Bad Idea: My Chat With Munro & Associates

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A few weeks ago, I partook in the Munro Live podcast, hosted by brilliant manufacturing expert Kevin Harty, whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for years. We talked about a number of interesting topics including Chinese cars; PHEVs; off-road performance of EVs; and why, just because Tesla can do it, doesn’t mean you can. Here, give it a listen.

I met Kevin almost 10 years ago now in the woods up in central Michigan. He was driving a square-body ex-military diesel CUCV Chevy, and I recall that thing barely squeaking between trees on that tight trail. It was an absolute beast. I’d worked with his team at Munro & Associates back before they became hotshot YouTube stars in addition to top-quality consultants, as Munro was the go-top place for Chrysler employees to gain benchmarking insights on competitors’ vehicles. “Hey, I should write a story on you guys,” I said while on the off-road trail with my own 1992 Jeep Cherokee XJ.

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“Sure, swing on by!” Kevin replied. I then scheduled an appointment with him and Cory, and the result was a story that did really, really well readership-wise. This started a great relationship between Munro and me, and between Kevin and me. He rules. He’s also in the national guard, which I think is awesome, as I lived on and near military bases growing up since my dad served active-duty for 26 years.

Anyway, here’s the podcast involving Kevin and me chatting about the current state of the auto industry:


There’s some good stuff in there about the cost of PHEVs, about manufacturing vehicles in China, about why trying to copy Tesla is futile, and about the fascinating company that is Munro & Associates. Give it a watch, and let me know what you think in the comments!

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George Talbot
George Talbot
1 month ago

I think the PHEV thing is really the last gasp of the dealerships — they make most of their money on service, and as anyone who has an EV knows, there’s little service necessary. Between that and the oil majors quaking at the fact that an EV goes 300mi on the energy equivalent of about 3gal of gasoline, the jig is up, thermodynamically. So I’m not so much for this PHEV thing, as it ties me to both dealerships and to oil majors. I prefer the decoupling I get from charging at home from very noisy gasoline prices, and not having to service my car so much.

1 month ago

I finally got around to watching this, and I must say, everything is on-point.

I’d like to add that one advantage of making a PHEV primarily an EV first and an ICE second by going to a series-hybrid layout, is that it becomes relatively easy to offer a pure-BEV version of the car with longer range, using mostly the same components n the same platform. It is true that the PHEV with the smaller/lighter battery pack will require more power density in order to meet the needs of the motor/inverter if it is shard between the two vehicles and operated at the same specification, but if the battery has sufficient power density for the PHEV and is within 10% the gravimetric energy density of alternative battery options better-suited to the pure-BEV that may not be as power-dense, you might as well share the same cells anyway between the two to help keep volume high and purchase costs down. If the manufacturer has vertically integrated production of cars/parts, then the cost benefit doesn’t present itself. The AH size of the modules between the two, if they share the same motor/inverter, will by necessity differ.

I really like the idea of a power-dense engine like a Mazda rotary being used as a generator. You can keep the mass of the vehicle down because the engine is extremely light to make enough power to sustain the car at speed. Operating efficiency is not as important as with a pure ICE car because you’re going to be driving it as a plug-in vehicle > 90% of the time anyway, and the efficiency of the rotary is “good enough”, especially when you run it at consistent load at the most efficient operating point of the BSFC chart.

Plus, with a mid or rear-mounted small ICE as generator, the drag penalty for cooling is not as large as a front-mounted ICE that needs a larger grille. The GM Precept had a 0.16 drag coefficient, and had cooling vents placed at the tail end of the car, minimally sized to minimize adding drag. This was a true 80 mpg car that could seat 5, albeit, it wasn’t a plug-in.

I love content like this and would love to see more. I have more I want to say when I get the chance.

Last edited 1 month ago by Toecutter
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago

“Give it a watch, and let me know what you think in the comments!”


Doug need to work on his use of filler words. Lots of “ums”, “uhs”, “you knows”…

You had some too but you were better than Doug.

Last edited 1 month ago by Cheap Bastard
1 month ago

I will hopefully have time to type up a long reply later tonight after watching the video. I love this sort of content.

1 month ago

Funnily enough I started listening to this podcast just before I saw this article.

I’ve been waiting for the podcast to drop for a while!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x