Toyota Plug-In Prius
Douglas Stansfield's picture

Is Toyota Going to make good on the 2017 Plug-In Prius?

Back in July the EV blogosphere was awash with stories about the Plug-In Prius getting an increase in electric vehicle range. I didn’t comment or write about it as most of the stories correctly stated that the news was strictly a rumor.
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Fast forward to today and there have been no more additional news about this additional EV range. The original rumor stories noted that the PIP (Plug-In Prius) would be getting an upgrade from the 11 miles of EV range to a stated 30-35 mile EV range. What I’m wondering is this: “Has Toyota gotten the message?”

The message is really that Toyota Prius lovers would really love to stick within the franchise and upgrade to the larger range EV battery pack but may have been lured away to purchase Chevy Volts, BMW I3s, or Ford C-Max Energi or Ford Fusion Plug-ins. In the world of Plug-In Hybrids, it really does matter how many EV miles are included with the car and at what additional cost.

I know someone that leased the Plug-in Prius with the 11 mile EV Range and returned it and decided on a Ford C-Max Energi. I’m sure there are many others that were disappointed with the EV range of the Plug-In Prius because they expected more from the leader in Hybrid technology.

Now the rumor mill back in July stated the PIP would get a 30 to 35 mile EV range. How does that compare to today’s offerings? Start with the range extended BMW I3 which comes in at plus 75 miles of EV Range before switching over to hybrid (range extender mode). How about the Chevy Volt which is about to get a facelift and push its EV range into plus 50 range. So the Plug-In Prius would end up in 3rd place if the rumor mill projections turned out to be true. If Toyota is aiming for average, it looks like they are exactly what they are shooting for.

My suspicions of Toyota are the company's longstanding commitment to fuel cell cars and not sticking with the beloved EV Rav 4 technology. Will it come through this time with an increased range in the 30-35 mile range or will it break out to the high side and become a best in class Plug-In hybrid? If so, Toyota will need to go past the BMW I3’s range in order to lead or maybe the company is comfortable just sitting back and leaving the car with the lousy 11 miles of EV range it has now.

So far they have sold a little over 4000 units in the USA this year of the PIP whereas Ford has sold over 11,000+ of the C-Max Energi and Fusion lines. It seems to me that an EV range increase is a good idea but just not sure if Toyota management is on the same page.


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Comments

BMW i 3 ? Good read. Thanks for sharing.
For my driving patterns what counts is the MPG after the EV mode. Volt and i3 are both very poor relative to the Prius.
Respectfully, I disagree. If the car's EV range covers all commute and errand tasks, then the only time driving patterns as it relates to Gasoline fuel economy comes into play is once in a blue moon and isn't statistically relevant.
I agree that Toyota needs to bring back the Prius Plug-in and expand its range, but I don't agree that the MPG champion would also need to lead the market in battery miles in order to be successful. As a loyal Prius fan (45,000 miles so far on my 3rd Prius, a plug-in), I would be happy to make my next car another Prius, and would be satisfied with 25 miles. This range would take care of the vast majority of my daily trips, while keeping the cost and battery weight down.
I fall into the category of folks who traded in their Prius for the Volt. I evaluated my driving needs (length of daily trips and number of long trips annually), and the Volt's daily electric range easily compensated for the mpg I would achieve when using the range extender on long trips. Three years with the Volt I'm averaging 133 mpg overall. Hats off to Chevy for getting in the game; too bad Toyota didn't show up.
Too bad Volt isn't rated 1 of the 10 most reliability vehicle models like the Prius. No American car company vehicle even makes the list.