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Toyota Prius Plug-in outselling both Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt first six months

The Toyota Prius Plug-in has been on sale for 6 months, and has outsold the first six months of the Leaf and Volt sales, while offering some advantages, wrapped in a car that is already familiar to many.


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.”


Anonymous (not verified)    September 11, 2012 - 7:52PM

Misleading article. The Prius plug in was available nationwide right away while the 1st year the Volt was only available in 4 states and didn't get rolled out nationwide till Nov 2011, almost a full since it launch. How is it doing head to head during it's first 6 months????? Looks like volt sold more every month.. Another anti Volt article. Let's race that volt vs prius dog. Volt blows the prius away..

Anonymous (not verified)    September 13, 2012 - 10:09AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The Prius plug-in is not available nationwide. Only in states that mandate. The Prius plug-in will not be available nation wide until the spring of next year.

Anonymous (not verified)    September 11, 2012 - 10:35PM

I like the Volt and it's one of GM's best offerings but don't forget the Volt requires premium fuel unlike the Plug In Prius. For me the Plug in Prius was the better choice but each consumer needs to assess which option is best for them -

AnonymousBOB (not verified)    September 12, 2012 - 4:18PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I own a 2012 prius v and i on a 2012 volt love both vehicles.I get 54 to 57 mpg in town.49 to 51 highway.On the prius.I get 45 to 50 miles on each charge with the volt. have used no gas in volt in the time i on it. 5 months. Volt is the best.more power much better ride. Better electronics.

Anonymous (not verified)    September 12, 2012 - 11:13AM

Premium fuel yes...but u use less. I fill my tank every 6 months. And volt is happy with 91. Volt wins. And it drives so much better than a prius. Its actually is fun. Volt wins.

Anonymous (not verified)    September 12, 2012 - 11:15AM

Premium fuel yes...but u use less. I fill my tank every 6 months. And volt is happy with 91. Volt wins. And it drives so much better than a prius. Its actually is fun. Volt wins.

Anonymous (not verified)    September 12, 2012 - 1:58PM

Having spent the last month unsuccessfully trying to get Ford to warranty the failed hybrid battery cooling system of my 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid (only 140,000 km), I will never buy another vehicle from Ford. If they will not proudly stand behind the vehicles that they make, then purchasing the CMAX would be like burning my money. I have no faith that Ford has the technological ability to properly engineer and build a vehicle of this complexity and ABSOLUTELY no trust that they will support the customers who buy it when it will inevitably fail. I purchased the Toyota Prius V and sleep easy knowing that this amazing vehicle contains the legendary Toyota quality and that Toyota's respect for its customers will alleviate any concerns if they do arise. Don't buy a Ford will regret it! Are you listening Ford?

Nissan LEAFer (not verified)    September 12, 2012 - 4:13PM

I drive my LEAF to work almost every day and I haven't bought a drop of gas for it since buying it 10 months ago. I spend about 3 cents a mile, which is great! Range anxiety makes me use my other car (an old Prius) when I'm going far, but that's ok. I love the LEAF and I hope more people try it.

When I do need a new "long-range" vehicle, I'd like to get a new Prius plug-in since it seems to have better milage when it uses gas... along with the ability to charge from the garage charger I already have. As a long-range alternative to my LEAF, I wish the Volt had better "with-gas" mileage and had a back seat for 3 and used cheaper gas. If those three things were improved, I'd buy it instead.