By on August 28, 2020

toyota

Many current EV owners might think their own vehicle is just right for their needs, and they’d probably be correct, but the take rate for such vehicles suggests the vast majority of the buying public feels otherwise. Low single-digit percentages continue to greet EVs in the North American market.

What qualities would a hypothetical EV need to posses to satisfy the broadest swath of the buying public? A survey conducted by Big Motor Oil set out to find out.

Actually, the company was Castrol, and the participants totaled 9,000 consumers, 750 fleet managers, and 30 automotive industry professionals spread out through the U.S., Western Europe, India, China, and Japan. The takeaway? Range, baby, and a low buy-in.

Compiling all the responses, Castrol averaged out the ideal price, range, and charging time for luring ICE owners into an electric car. The “tipping point,” as Castrol called it. It seems the greatest number of respondents would be tempted by a vehicle that cost $36,000, recharged fully in 31 minutes, and delivered 291 miles of driving range per charge.

Current EV inventory has never been closer to filling this desire, but battery packs remain pricey, heavy, and not quite as energy dense as many would like. The next few years should see battery costs drop further, with modest (at the very least) improvements in energy density, as well as faster public charging infrastructure and wider availability of vehicles that can take advantage of it. Automakers know they need to make advances to foster greater EV adoption.

Image: Nissan

It’s basically an effort to fill in the middle. Want a high-zoot, long-range EV? They’ve existed for years. Looking for something no-frills that lacks a tailpipe and can get you to the grocery store and maybe the suburbs for the price of a nicely decked-out midsize car? They’ve had those for years. It’s the gap between the two that needs closing.

There also needs to be an increase in diversity among body styles; something automakers are already working on. The next few years will see a slew of domestic and foreign electric SUVs, crossovers, and pickups.

“Although just one in 50 new cars sold is an EV, the majority of consumer respondents to our  survey said they themselves would consider buying an EV in 2024, just four years away,” the Castrol study stated.

“However, 61% of consumers are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach and believe that research and development into battery technology will be fundamental to driving the development of the fully electric car market. And although 58% of fleet managers are personally motivated to make a positive difference to the environment by making their fleet fully electric, over half (54%) are waiting for their competitors to make the switch before they do.”

There’s also a disconnect between consumer intentions and predicted “mainstream adoption” of electric vehicles, meaning when more than half of new vehicles sold lack an internal combustion engine. For individuals, the amassed countries returned an adoption year of 2024. Mainstream adoption in these markets, when averaged out, comes to 2030, however. For the U.S., the study showed the majority of respondents claiming they planned to purchase an EV by 2025. That’s not something you can take to the bank.

Mainstream adoption in the U.S. isn’t pegged until 2032 — the same year as Germany and Norway, both being far greener climes for new vehicles.

Now, what’s in an EV for Castrol to root for, you ask? Advanced transmission e-fluids, apparently.

[Image: Toyota, Nissan]

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51 Comments on “The Goldilocks EV: Survey Tracks Down the Most Appealing Nonexistent Electric Car...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Rivian Pickup truck is the most appealing nonexistent Electric car in my book.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @hdc: Certainly the Rivian has some very interesting concepts in their design; especially the pass-through storage right behind the cab. The fact that the drawer can be replaced with any one of a combination of specialized drawers, including a camp cookery rig, means that it can be customized to fit any customer’s needs before or after purchase.

      I’m still more interested in Tesla’s offering, however. I think it’s economy will be better due to a more aerodynamic shape and probably offer more power with its three axle motors instead of four in-wheel motors on the Rivian.

      But those are hardly the only trucks coming and each has its advantages and its disadvantages.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Vulpine, I was really fired up about the Rivian, especially the design of a hubmotor in each wheel.

        With the appropriate firmware/software to manage traction, this could provide 1, 2, and 4WD, automatically, depending on road conditions, and add miles from the stored charge in the battery pack.

        Many of my early ICE pickups only had 1WD, and only 2WD if it had a limited slip differential. Didn’t need more on a paved road.

        And the software in the Rivian could be continuously upgraded (over the air so to speak) as improvements or corrections are mode, like we all do on our PCs, Tablets, Phones, etc.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    Honestly, I bought my CTR as a daily mostly because Honda decided not to make/import a 1.5 turbo’d 4th gen Fit or the e, respectively. The e is about the same size as the Mini I replaced (the CTR is MASSIVE), and the range wouldn’t be a problem for a DD.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I’d be considerably more upwardly flexible on price — $36K doesn’t seem reasonable at this point — and would be fine with 80% charge in 45 minutes. But I’d want 300 miles real world range, meaning at 80 mph average highway speed and in cold weather conditions. I’m guessing that probably means 375-400 miles EPA rated.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      You’d probably need more EPA range than that. Cold – like Northeast US cold – can cut range in a modern EV by 1/3. In my Leaf 1.0, I lost 50%.

      Speed is tough on EV range, but it’s better with a smoother body.

      I think you’d want at least 500 miles range, so maybe Lucid has something for you.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    So much BS in this story and survey.

    “Low single-digit percentages continue to greet EVs in the North American market.”

    Sure, but BEV market share has tripled in 5 years.

    “the majority of consumer respondents to our survey said they themselves would consider buying an EV in 2024”

    Not a chance.

    “the greatest number of respondents would be tempted by a vehicle that cost $36,000, recharged fully in 31 minutes, and delivered 291 miles of driving range per charge”

    Sounds pretty close to the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, with 250 miles range and $38k base price. It can be filled from 5-90% in 37 minutes with the Supercharger v3.

    Funny that you guys think such an EV doesn’t exist, when the Model 3 was the #26 best-selling vehicle in the US last year, and the #9 best-selling sedan.

    EV surveys are nearly worthless; most respondents don’t understand how EVs work in daily life – they either overestimate or underestimate the pros and cons. It *is* a different ownership experience, but people’s frame of reference is around ICEs.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yeah I was reading that and thought the Model 3 is right in that range, particularly if you live in a state or country that will give you some sort of rebate or tax break.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I was about to say this seems to be describing a Model 3.

      The biggest EV challenge I see is where/how do I charge this thing? Buying an EV means also buying some gizmo for your house and that is a barrier for many.

      Also Tesla is being held back by their sales model. While many love the non-dealership deal (sounds great to me) the idea of just picking one off the lot, doing some paper work and taking it home is tried and true. For example currently not even CarMax offers used Teslas.

      Thus the whole EV thing still requires a leap of faith and for people to get outside their comfort zone. As mentioned change is hard to process. As a result I see slow yet steady adoption until we reach some kind of critical mass where its no longer viewed as weird or odd to own an EV. Ford’s Mach E should help here but since its version 1.0 most consumer will still have that wait-n-see approach.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “Buying an EV means also buying some gizmo for your house and that is a barrier for many.”

        I’ve thought it would be good to have a $1100 “first time EV buyer” rebate to cover the charger install (I know for some people it’ll be $5 and for some it will be $50,000, but ~$1000 seems like a median level). Dealers and manufacturers having a relationship with local electricians and installers would also be good.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        Home charging is really the key, unless the government mandates some sort of mass charging network. So with home charging, if you live in an apartment or condo, you are going to have a tough time getting a charging station installed, and even many homeowners don’t have garages, or would need to upgrade their electrical panel before they could charge at home. It’s a pretty big hurdle for many people. Most car buyers won’t sit through a presentation of the vehicle’s features when they take delivery. The idea that they will hunt down an electrician and pay for a charging station install is optimistic.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Frankly, as much as Castrol still has a product they’re interested in pursuing if EV sales rise, it’s not hard to imagine they could have easily gone with some leading questions to ensure the results they want (basically something that justifies headlines like above).

  • avatar
    ajla

    Range is a tough one because it really depends on infrastructure. 300 or even 200 miles and an ~30 minute recharge time would be fine if getting to a plug wasn’t much harder than finding a Burger King. In the current state I’d probably want more like 500 miles (especially on a nonTesla).

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It is the Tesla that you should worry about charging over a car with CCS. In my area there are far more Electrify America stations, the majority have 4 or more 150kw CCS plugs and the ones near the biggest freeways have a number of 350kw units if you’ve got a car that can handle that.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @Scoutdude: Where I live, the Tesla Superchargers are at a Welcome Center located in the median of I-95; extremely easy to access with eight stands in place specifically for Teslas. And while not EA units, there are an additional eight other charging stands which I suspect are 50kW capacity, though they may have been replaced with faster units since I last looked.

        Meanwhile, I am not aware of ANY EA chargers in my area, even knowing that VW chose to locate them at freeway-accessible Walmart* stores of which I know the locations of three within an approximate 15-mile radius that do not have ANY EA chargers, despite I-95 being one of the more heavily-traveled stretches of freeway. Nor am I aware of any at any of the Walmarts between I-95 and Dover, DE along DE Route 1. In fact, of the six EA locations within a 30-mile radius of my home, only ONE is easily accessible from I-95, not requiring a convoluted route just to get to the stands. Yes, I looked them up specifically to reply to this discussion.

        When putting the Tesla Supercharger map next to the EA map, the Superchargers are all in far more convenient and accessible locations than most of the EA chargers, that tend to be located on secondary roads in highly congested traffic areas around metropolitan centers. It seems obvious to me that VW/EA listened to the arguments about people not able to charge at home more than they did about having an ability to take road trips in their EVs. Personally, I’m willing to bet the EA high-speed chargers are going to see far less use because of this.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          It definitely does depend on where you are at. EA is still building their network so they may have more planned for your area. However EA is just one of the public charging networks. So yeah at this point in the US there are there are more plugs out for CCS vehicles than Tesla + CHAdeMO.

  • avatar
    mcs

    “with modest (at the very least) improvements in energy density,”

    Modest? What defines modest. 300Wh/kg to 400Wh/kg isn’t modest in my book and that’s probably the minimum we’ll see. That’s a 30% increase. Batteries heavy? A 100 kWh battery at 400Wh/kg is about 500lbs. A 60kWh battery would be 330 lbs. What are they expecting? 20 lbs?

    The numbers on what constitutes different charging rates is a couple of years out of date. They 150kW as next generation when in reality current generation is 250kW to 350Kw.

    If the diamond nuclear voltaic technology is for real and makes it into production then it’s game over for ICE technology really quick. The technology is really crazy, but supposedly they have sent out beta cells for testing. I’ll believe it if a larger company takes a huge chunk of them(NDB). Until then, I’ll wait and see. I always wondered if this technology was being explored and apparently someone was. It’s interesting to say the least.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I would enjoy an EV that I can charge using a USB cable.

    (I would also like all my ‘USB’ connectors and cables to be compatible with each other – sigh – like that’s gonna happen.)

    [Good news: 12V automotive power outlets are fairly standardized. Bad news: They are horribly designed.]

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      Because 12V outlets weren’t originally designed as just power points, but cigarette lighters. They kept the form factor because of all the aftermarket accessories built to use it.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Surveys are nice and all, but statistics are more useful.

    The information I have never seen, and would like to see, is statistics on what percentage of American car owners are (or would be) unable to plug in their electric car at their place of residence.

    Yes, I know there are some mavericks out there who own EV yet can’t plug in at home. But being unable to plug in at home is a serious detriment to EV purchase.

    I’m certainly one of them. Until and unless either hot-swap batteries become a thing, OR 200 miles of EV range can be acquired at a “filling station” in under, say, 15 minutes, it feels entirely unfeasible for me to ever own an electric vehicle.

  • avatar
    Dartdude

    For me it would have to be a mid size cross over with 200 mile range. It have to be able to be recharged in 6 hours on a home charger with 110v. Also it would have to be well equipped and sell for no more than $30K with the charger. Don’t need all the new safety crap. It would have to hit 60 mph in at least 7.5 seconds

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Unrealistic wish, Dartdude. Six hours at 15Amps is only going to give you about twenty-four miles of charge. You’ll need to run a 220V dryer type connection if you want to fully charge your BEV from empty in that time.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      You’re in dreamland. I’m not even sure what ICE CUV would fit that unrealistic goal. What mid-size CUV that goes 0-60 in 7.5 secs and costs $28k($30k minus the charger)?

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Welp, there’s a used Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV with your name on it. Go with the SEL, not the GT, if you want to skip the safety nannies. Only 22 of your miles will be electric and you’ll barely stay in the single-digit 0-60 club, but other than that, you’re all set.

      I realize that sounds like a snarky slam on that car but honestly it’s not. You’re not going to get much more range than that out of a 120 volt outlet overnight anyway. It’s a pretty roomy rig, teetering on the cusp between compact and midsize. Its ride is pillowy-soft. Its AWD system is excellent. IT COMES IN BROWN. It looks like a little Range Rover, especially if the last guy popped for the optional lettering on the hood.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I was driving north to Sioux Falls, SD yesterday. I stopped in a Whiting and drove three miles off the interstate in search of gas at a small gas station near the center of town. As I was filling up I was surprised to see a Chevy Bolt drive through town. It stopped and a young girl got out of the back seat and reckoned the front passenger door, which was not all the way latched. It a land of oversized pickup trucks I was surprised to see an electric car. I’m sure it suffers in the winter unless it lives in a garage that’s a little warmer. I like the bolt, I’d love to have such a car as a second car for around town use and careful, well planned road trips, but I damn sure wouldn’t have one in South Dakota with its brutal winters that last half the year.

    • 0 avatar
      Giskard

      Actually, this is misconception lots of people have about electric cars before they’ve actually experienced them on a daily basis. Everyone concentrates on the reduced range (which is very true), but other than that BEVs are far superior to a regular ICE vehicle in the cold. I live several hours north of Sioux Falls and drive a BMW i3s (EPA 100 miles electric range). It’s been wonderful to drive in the winter. I can tell it to warm up from my smart phone at any time, I don’t have to worry about cranking over a cold engine, and I don’t have to stop for gas every week. Anyone who has ever had to fill their ICE car in windy 20 below weather knows how much *fun* it can be.

      We had one day here in early 2019 where it was colder than both poles (-40 without windchill, -75 F with windchill). Where I work there were 100s of ICE vehicles that would not start. I walked up to my electric car, got in, and took off like normal. Remember, too, even if you don’t think to warm it up beforehand you don’t have to wait for the engine to warm up to get heat. As long as you have a big enough battery to deal with the reduced range you’re good to go.

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    I would like to see an EV that lived up to the potential that EVs have for simplicity, low maintenance, reliability, and overall low cost of ownership.

    Of course this isn’t all that likely to happen since the manufacturers make more money selling all that gimcrackery, and the public has become convinced that they can’t live without all that stuff. Everything has to be “connected” these days and have an app.

  • avatar

    It’s amazing how far the EV market has come in such a short period of time. I remember not so long ago when EVs had a range of maybe 50 miles and a top speed of around the same. They were completely impractical for most lifestyles and the lack of charging infrastructure didn’t help. But despite the improvements, one of the biggest hurdles to mainstream EV adoption is getting people to realize they don’t drive as much as they think they do. My mom isn’t in the market for a new car but she has expressed her EV range anxiety to me on several occasions, her biggest concern revolving around how ICE cars use fuel while not in motion. While EVs *do* use electricity when sitting in traffic, it’s nowhere near what a gas or diesel would use by comparison. I eventually got her to understand it by asking her, “If you came out to your car every morning and the gas tank was full, how many times would you have run out in your daily life over the last ten years?” I think once people shed the ICE mindset of only refueling when it’s empty, then EVs suddenly become a lot more appealing.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @Andrew: Yeah, that gas tank full every time you get into the car is real. I have trouble with gas cars and nearly ran out of gas once because I’m so used to the EV always being full – at least in the way I use mine. The other thing is if you’re running late, you don’t have to worry about having to lose time stopping for gas. Yes, I know that scenario doesn’t work for everyone, but if it does, it’s sure nice.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Andrew: Many states are already mandating a dedicated connection on the house or in the garage of all new home construction for an EV charger, just as the washer/dryer connection is mandated. I’ve also read that a third-party system is being set up for apartment owners where a multi-unit building can have several chargers installed which can earn the building owner something like $20K per year using some sort of key-card access for the EV.

      Essentially, the issue is moot as to where to charge because that’s already being taken into consideration and mandated for almost all new housing construction. It’s only a matter of time before older locations also accommodate EV charging.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        At this point only CA has a mandate to have charger ready homes. There are a handful of cities with their own mandates. However they often have loopholes, in Seattle they are actively encouraging multifamily and single family projects w/o any onsite parking so they don’t have to do the pre-wire.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          They need to educate more landlords on how they can make money off of chargers. If there’s a profit to be made, more property owners will be encouraged to install them.

  • avatar
    Dan

    My hangup isn’t range, charge time, or cost, all of those are already fine. It’s the compromise that got those three things to fine – an affordable battery that charges in a reasonable time means the rest of the car has to be a depressing little low rolling resistance blob that I wouldn’t look twice at even if it had a regular engine.

    Call me when there’s an electric half ton with 300 miles for 60K.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Dan: We’ll be there within the next two years. Maybe in less than one.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Battery day should be soon. Hopefully, we’ll learn more about the state of battery technology.

        I’m interested in betavoltaic batteries. No charging for years. Betavoltaics would solve a number of problems, but I’m a little skeptical since none of the major players seem to be working on them.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @mcs: What you’re talking about is a battery that carries an almost unimaginable energy density. A car will go through 100kWh in mere hours of steady use. A betavoltaic battery with years of charge life would need to have megaWatthours of capacity while still weighing only a few hundred pounds. You’re also talking about what is essentially a nuclear battery, with all the relevant issues of shielding the nuclear mass for radiation containment and physical toughness to prevent the risk of a radiation leak even in the event of a major crash or explosive destruction of the vehicle.

          You’re also talking about needing many thousands of these batteries per vehicle, as while they have an energy density of 10microWatts per cubic centimeter, generating up to–let’s say 10kiloWatts for heavy acceleration or climbing a steep grade would mean roughly one million cubic centimeters of cell would be required, roughly 35 cubic feet. That would work on a truck with its larger chassis but not too well in a car. A railroad locomotive would benefit even more due to its large size and heavy mass needed to pull its train.

          And don’t forget all the fears about having nuclear ‘generators” in the general public. Not only would there be fears about hazardous radiation but also fears about mis-use; some will claim that terrorists could use them to create some form of ‘dirty bomb’ meant to irradiate entire cities or some other such fear mongering (whether possible or not.)

          In the tiny amounts of energy needed to operate a cardiac pacemaker, I can see these as very beneficial. But building them up to the size to power a car or larger vehicle would cause problems not only in the technology itself but in social acceptance of nuclear energy in the general environment.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Here’s a link to one such betavoltaic study: https://phys.org/news/2018-06-prototype-nuclear-battery-power.html

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Honestly, I’d like a smaller-size pickup that gets 200+ range.

    Since the infrastructure still doesn’t quite support long trips, EVs are good suburban commuter-mobiles, and a pickup would add Home Depot capability as a plus for that market demographic.

  • avatar
    bubbajet

    I’m currently driving a hybrid 2018 Accord, and it’s by far the best car I’ve ever had. Which, by the way, includes three full-size pickups, a small pickup, a full-size Caddy, among other things. Love this car. The best thing is – you just treat it like a car. No gee-whiz gimcrackery. Get in, press the “start” button, and drive away. It doesn’t have odd screens, or weird styling, or a full-roof sunroof. I’m not going to win a race – but the car gets out of its own way. The ride is excellent. And I’m averaging 48.6MPG over the life of the car.

    My next car will be all-electric. In fact, if Tesla had shipped the Model 3 about 6 months earlier, that’s what I’d have now, with all of its oddities. However, Tesla is now off the table for me, with real mainstream cars (which Tesla could make and I wish they would) coming on-line in the next couple of years.

    Must-haves:

    Cloth seats and no freaking full-glass roof. It’s hot and sunny here.
    A screen in front of the driver. After driving a Model Y for an hour, I’m convinced it’s a necessity, particularly if you’re going to use automated systems. Must be able to see what the car is doing/thinking, right in front of you
    A reasonable ride, and the ability to buy non-low-profile tires. Lordy
    Real-world 250 mile range, 300 is better
    Current charge speeds are right at the minimum for road trips – faster just makes it better
    No d*** shiny black plastic!
    Regular-car styling. I’m not trying to make a statement, I want a car
    Starting price in the low $30K range, although that might not get the full-size battery. I don’t mind paying into the $40K range for what I want
    Is it too much to ask for a sunglasses holder? How about two?

    Honestly, it looks like the Polestar 2 and the VW ID.4 are going to nail it. Not happy about Android Auto in the Polestar, but eh.

    ICE is on the way out. It’ll take a few decades – but electric is the way of the future. I can’t wait.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The Polestar 2 is the moist stylish EV so far, IMO. It’s pricey now, but they’re promising cheaper versions soon.

      A detail: The Polestar’s operating system is technically called “Android Automotive OS”, which isn’t the same as the Android Auto app. Basically, I think Google wrote an entire operating system for vehicle mfrs to use as they wish:

      https://source.android.com/devices/automotive/start/what_automotive

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “Many current EV owners might think their own vehicle is just right for their needs, and they’d probably be correct, but the take rate for such vehicles suggests the vast majority of the buying public feels otherwise. Low single-digit percentages continue to greet EVs in the North American market.”

    —- The low ‘take rate’ for BEVs is more due to a lack of availability than anything else, today. Sure, more brands are coming online and Tesla has multiplied their manufacturing capacity but even so, between them all there’s only about a 750,000 annual productivity rate at the moment (not counting China’s low-cost BEVs which are also relatively short-ranged at about 80 miles or less.) Considering China is the world’s largest adopter of BEVs and Tesla is pretty much selling every one they can make (30% market share in China), it’s obvious there’s more demand than the legacy OEMs expected or planned for.

    Now, before somebody else brings it up, I am aware that Tesla’s sales are dropping in Europe but there are two legitimate reasons that have nothing to do with demand. Simply put, Tesla isn’t shipping as many to Europe (focused on just a couple specific markets such as the UK in particular) and with the German “Gigafactory” under construction, some buyers are waiting for locally-assembled models in the same way the Chinese market slowed while the Shanghai factory was being built. Once that factory opens, the odds are very high that Tesla will realize record European sales, at least for the first few years.

    But this isn’t just about Tesla and it’s clear that the other brands are realizing their mistake in attempting to oppose this shift to battery power. Volkswagen and its associated brands are working to get the programming bugs out of their first production models and once they are reasonably stable, they will more than double the available BEV supply and give customers a broader variety of styles and types.

    Unique models such as their electric Microbus and other somewhat retro-styled models will certainly have an impact and I personally see the resurgence of truly unique body styles as fuel economy requirements won’t be as critical to the body shape any more. Maybe we can see some limited-run throwbacks to classic European and American cars of the ’50s and ’60s that aren’t so crippled by underpowered motivators. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a take-off of the old ’50s Corvettes, Thunderbirds, the original Alpine roadster (think the little white car The Saint (Roger Moore) drove). Don’t forget we’ve already seen a BEV version of the classic Jaguar XK-E during the recent Royal Wedding; now imagine having one for yourself!

    New styles can be more extreme, too. Imagine all of the fantasy cars we’ve seen in movies and TV or on the concept stage at auto shows. No more will they have their forms dictated by needing a huge block of iron in the nose or tail. You want something like the original Firebird concept? Much easier with a ‘skateboard chassis’ and custom body. Using a combination of body-on-frame design and ‘space frame’ body structure, you get the best of both worlds and a return to individual identity in car design.

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