In its first six months of production availability, Toyota says the Prius Plug-in has racked up some powerful statistics, and customer acceptance. The plug-in hybrid version of the popular Prius has not only outsold the first six months of Nissan Leaf (3,875 units) and Chevy Volt (2,745 units) sales, but is getting positive reviews.
According to Toyota, in its first six months of available 6,061 Toyota Prius Plug-in's have been sold. The company expects September to be another strong month, with special lease and APR offers available. This is a faster sales growth than either the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt and the initial sales volume of both vehicles. What we have pointed to in examining Leaf and Volt sales growth is that both outsold the initial sales of the Gen 1 Toyota Prius. Today, the Prius is past the initial adoption curve, and is already a popular vehicle on the market. On the other hand, the Leaf and Volt are still in their initial adoption phase and working on gaining traction in the market.
Toyota describes the benefit of the Prius Plug-in as offering the same overall package & shape as the Prius Liftback, while offering an electric-only driving range of 12 miles or so. Oh, and the Prius Plug-in can seat five passengers, which the Volt cannot do because of the shape of that car's battery pack. The 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid has an EPA-rated at 95 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) fuel efficiency in EV mode and 50 MPG estimate in hybrid mode. The Volt has a fuel efficiency of 98 MPGe in electric mode, and 37 MPG in hybrid mode, but offers a 35-40 mile electric driving range. The EPA estimates the Volt will cost $1.08 to drive 25 miles on electricity only, and $2.70 to drive 25 miles on gasoline only, and have a total annual fuel cost of $950. For the Prius Plug-in those estimates are $1.54 to drive 25 miles on a mix of gasoline and electricity, $1.86 to drive 25 miles on gasoline only, and an annual fuel cost of $1000.
According to Toyota's buyer data, the Prius Plug-in outshines both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf because of fuel economy, and the way the Prius Plug-in addresses range anxiety. As we've just seen the Prius Plug-in has a higher fuel efficiency in hybrid mode, but the Volt edges out the Prius Plug-in in annual fuel cost. Presumably this is because the Volt's larger battery pack lets it drive more electric-only miles, and electricity is a much cheaper fuel than gasoline.
Back in February we asked "Toyota Prius Plug-in versus the Chevy Volt, which wins?" In that comparison we decided it depends a lot on ones true needs. For example if you're hoping to get the highest miles/gallon, don't highly value electric-only driving, and are a little price sensitive, the Prius Plug-in is your car. But if you're dead set on getting rid of oil, the Chevy Volt is your car. But if you must carry five people, or if you need more cargo capacity, the Prius Plug-in is your car. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic changes once the Ford C-MAX Energi becomes available, because that car slots neatly between these two.
In the meantime the Volt is strongly outselling the Prius Plug-in, having sold 2,831 units in August alone and racking up strong sales figures all year long. Toyota's claim is to have outpaced last years Volt and Leaf sales, but today the Volt is seriously outpacing the Prius Plug-in. On the other hand the Volt is available in all 50 States (plus a few other countries) while the Prius Plug-in is available in only 15 states (California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Hawaii).
Bay Area resident, Rich Stephens and Prius Plug-in owner, wrote: “I commute 31 miles each way to work. I have put about 4,000 miles on my Prius Plug-in, equally split between gas and EV, and so far the average mileage shown on the computer is 136 MPG. With a full charge, my estimated EV range on the dash started at 12.9, dipped slowly to 11.3 as I was learning how best to drive, but has gone back up now to 12.5 miles and continues to climb. In the mornings, even when it is cool, I can drive more than 14 miles in EV mode on the freeway.”