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3 Real Reasons The Prius Prime Is Not What We Think It Is

The Prius Prime is not like most plug in hybrids. In fact, it has far less range than the competition. The thing is, Toyota did this on purpose. Here is why.

I find it surprising and rather odd that Toyota made a plug in hybrid that supposedly only gets 25 miles of electric driving range. We are talking about the company that brought us the Prius in the first place.

This is the company that overcame massive hurdles to bring us cutting edge technology that has changed the world. So, why are we only seeing this advanced car have such a short range of EV driving? The answer lies in what Toyota is trying to accomplish that most of us are not thinking about.

The Prius Prime Is Meant For More In Town Driving
Toyota, if you are not aware, does some really excellent marketing. They are probably the best car marketing on the planet. They also know who they can sell to, why they can sell to, and when they can sell to their target audience.

Prius in town driving 2012 Prius Plug in

Toyota has done some serious recon on figuring out how, where and when people drive. This is one reason the range is so short. According to Toyota, 25 miles is more than enough for many in town drivers, and honestly, thinking about it, I can see how it would be. For a person such as myself, I commute in 17 miles one way. Once I am at work, I have a plug in station where I can charge while I am there. I could pretty much never have to run the gas motor while I am working during the week.

The best part is even if the battery does run out, you have the best hybrid system on the planet to take you anywhere you need to go and at a super fuel sipping 55 mpg.

The Prime Can Go Further If You Know This Tip
What I find most interesting about the range Toyota gives the Prime, is that they tell you it is for up to 84 miles an hour. Just let that sink in for a second. This is a huge deal. What Toyota is not telling you is that you have more distance if you slow down.

For me, this makes perfect sense. My commute is 17 miles at 45 to 55 miles an hour. While there is not any data that says what increase your range, we can for sure take something into account. It is fact that when you drive a regular gasoline car at a lower speed say 55 as opposed to 85 miles an hour you will get better fuel economy.

Toyota Heads up display showing fuel status

The thing is no matter whether it is electric energy or liquid energy we are consuming it. The faster we travel the more of it we consume. It only makes sense that Toyota would put such a high rate of speed and cap the limit on the range. This gives owners way more flexibility and also gives them a surprise when they get more range than they thought. Smart move Toyota.

Toyota Is Not Looking To Sell Fully Electric Vehicles, Yet
With the push we are seeing from more automakers to start building a line up of electric vehicles, Toyota has not fully vested themselves just yet. It is not their practice to rush into something without taking the time to research it as much as possible.

If a company like Toyota that has made great strides in the field of alternative vehicles, it would only make sense for them to try and plan out the their future as much as possible. They are looking to make effective and efficient moves. This is for sure one of the ways they are gathering data to support an electric car line up.

I would bet that Toyota has been studying Tesla, Chevrolet, and any other car company that has a fully electric automobile to see how they can make their own and make it better.

The Prius Prime may not be a Tesla killer just yet, but rest assured this car will have some serious data that will support Toyota having more hybrids and an electric line up. The Prime is an incredibly attractive car, it is for sure one that I will have my eye on as I seek to get a new car.

I think this car is a fantastic option for anyone who wants the thrill of an electric car, without the range anxiety. This car is not what it looks, it is so much better.

Check out my other story about The Toyota Prius Limited Vs The Avalon Hybrid Limited

See you in the next story where I am discussing why Carista is the best $20 tool for your Toyota Prius.

Also Watch New tech means more MPG from your Toyota Prius and Click to Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily Toyota Prius and Automotive News.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Adjunct Instructor of automotive technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter.


Stsn (not verified)    September 26, 2019 - 10:15AM

Toyota worked with Tesla. Their efforts created the RAV4 EV. Toyota was not impressed with Tesla and they felt Tesla was building their car wrong, broke their relationship with Tesla, sold their Tesla stock, and Tesla is growing. Perhaps rocket scientists know how to make EV cars better than ICE car manufacturers. Apparently rocket science is harder than automotive engineering. After all, Elon's companies did send a Tesla car into space. I doubt Toyota can do such a feat.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    September 26, 2019 - 5:16PM

In reply to by Stsn (not verified)

When I worked with Toyota they would carefully listen to you, but they did not seem to really trust anything that was not done by them in their traditional way. They had lots of specific rules and a strict hierarchy to follow. Tesla is objective and product goal oriented, there is no tradition component in their engineering processes. So it is easy to see how Tesla and Toyota would fundamentally disagree and separate quickly. It is interesting that Toyota did not build a BEV after producing the RAV4 EV with Tesla.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    September 26, 2019 - 12:17PM

I agree with you that Toyota is being smart about their evolution into electrified cars. I will also say that have made great progress on evolving much of their vehicle line up by offering hybrid versions of MANY of their gasoline models. This approach has a greater effect than offering one BEV or PHEV, but having all of the rest of the vehicles be solely gas/diesel powered. My experience working with Japanese automakers in general, and Toyota specifically is that they are conservative to a fault. And they will often not innovate new products or designs until a competitor has found success in that area already. Toyota's only innovative leap has been with the Mirai fuel cell car, but unfortunately without hydrogen fuel available in most places across the country, that technology has an uphill battle ahead. Perhaps because the chose to support hydrogen as their big leap ahead into future technologies they decided to hold off on making the leap into pure electric cars until the larger market proved that it would be a profitable market. Tesla has shown that many buyers are excited to move to pure electric cars, and their visible success has driven Toyota's rivals Chevy and Hyundai to build BEVs, and most of the automotive world to promise that their future cars would also be BEVs. Rumors have claimed that Toyota has plans to offer their whole Prius line up as BEVs and PHEVs, and to expand their current automotive lineup to offer even more models with hybrid and PHEV versions available. So even though Toyota looks like they are slow to the EV market, they are moving in a way that could have a huge impact on the automotive industry overall, over time.

Steve (not verified)    September 26, 2019 - 5:41PM

Toyota does major research. If you dont think they have their hands on every hybrid and EV that has been in production, youre crazy. On top of that, they have flogged every one of them on their private testing facilities, logged all data, and dissected each one to see what makes them tick. The R&D teams ar Toyota are every bit as industrious as the marketing team. They really are committed to bring to market a solid product that their target audience would like at a slightly higher price that is comfortable. Because if it was cheap, you would think the same about the quality lol. Expect a line-up of EVs soon from them. They are not watching the world go by.

Larry (not verified)    September 27, 2019 - 10:54AM

Last year we traded in our 2004 Prius on a 2018 Prius Prime. To date, our average mpg (with mostly in-town driving) is 166! We loved the 2004 Prius, but the Prius Prime is awesome. Plus, we got a substantial Federal tax credit to boot.

James L Rogers (not verified)    June 13, 2021 - 11:49AM

Because of my driving habits, I'm getting 32 miles on a single charge - and tne computer is still slowly putting it higher. A nice local drive, but also 70 to 75 MPG on highway.