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Prius Prime Gets 59 Mile EV Range In This Country - Why U.S. Range Is Lower

The Japanese market Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has earned an impressive 59-mile electric-only operation range. Here's why U.S. models have a much lower rating.

The Toyota RAV4 Prime, called the RAV4 PHEV in Japan, has officially launched in the brand's home market. Along with the launch comes specifications for the new model. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) assessment figures in Japan peg the RAV4 PHEV's range at 95 kilometers or 59 miles (this data can be found on Toyota's Global Media Site). However, Toyota has prepared the American market customers to expect a 42-mile EPA Estimated EV range. So why the difference in range?

Torque News first reached out to Toyota to confirm that the two vehicles have the same drivetrains. We were told that they do. Thus, the differences in the range are strictly related to the difference between Japan's and the United States' government regulatory agency ratings.

As any vehicle tester will tell you, the EPA's ratings have grown more and more conservative over the past few decades. EPA's ratings for things like fuel economy are now very close to accurate. Of the hundreds of vehicles we test each year, nearly none fail to return real-world fuel economy lower than the "Combined" EPA estimates. Quite the contrary. We often find that vehicles we test exceed the fuel economy estimates by a noticeable margin. And this applies to hybrids as Editor Patrick Rall's long-distance Prius test exemplified.

This is not the first example of the Japanese market rating a green vehicle with outlandish fuel economy numbers. The 2010 Prius was rated at 89.4 MPG by the Japanese agency. American owners never saw everyday averages anywhere close to that.

The new RAV4 Prime will be on sale soon in both markets. We expect that owners will find that the EV-only range of their RAV4 Primes will be between 30 and 45 miles depending upon the weather, driving conditions, and other factors that impact EV range. Watch Torque News for an upcoming test of our own. We hope to have a test RAV4 Prime mid-summer.

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

Image courtesy of Toyota Media.