Our Point of View: Irv’s Sheet: Prius Plug-In MPG Not Yet Available

February 05, 2009

by Irv Miller

You may have read a recent headline and story in Automotive News that suggested a Toyota spokesperson said that our U.S. plug-in hybrid (PHV) test vehicles have achieved, on average, about 65 mpg in testing. The interview took place at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month.

We believe there was a misunderstanding between the reporter and the spokesperson, who were also discussing Prius vehicles that had been converted to plug-ins by aftermarket companies and are currently being tested by private individuals, companies, utilities and so on. Many of these owners of converted PHVs have stated or publicly posted performance numbers in the 65 mpg range.

For the record, Toyota has only a small test fleet of PHVs in the U.S. and has never offered mileage estimates on PHV technology. These PHVs are being used for auto show displays, brief demonstrations and university studies. They are very early "converted" prototypes using double nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Although mileage data has been collected during demonstration events, it varies too widely to offer any indication of what to expect consistently. Most importantly, these vehicles are not representative of the lithium-ion-battery-powered next-generation Prius PHVs that will be delivered to lease-fleet customers later this year.

When asked about the mpg performance of PHVs – either lithium or nickel battery powered – we have consistently answered that we believe that PHV mileage will vary dramatically, depending on driving style and driving conditions . . . even more dramatically than with a conventional gas-electric hybrid. This is due to the added weight of a large battery that, once depleted by pure-electric drive, will contribute nothing until it is plugged in and re-charged.

We have also stated that it is too early to discuss anticipated mileage ranges based on early preliminary testing in Japan by Toyota Motor Corporation engineers.

We look forward to getting in-use driving feedback from the 150 lease-fleet customers who will receive our lithium battery-powered Prius PHVs early next year. We anticipate a wide range of fuel efficiency performance numbers. And we regret the misunderstanding that prompted this recent news story.

Originally published on the Toyota Open Road blog on Feb. 05, 2009.


Displaying comments 1 - 5 of 11:

Judy said...
What this comparison doesn't take into account is the fact that you can't buy a Toyota at the "base" price because they generally come equipped with standard "packages" which increase the price from $2000 to $4000 over the base price. I do love Toyotas, but this is a fact that makes it difficult to price them.
9/30/09 at 12:00 AM

Laszlo said...
My wide and I are both 'in love' with my 2008 Prius. There is a daily competition for the key fob (looser gets the Corolla keys). My only beef is that it should be a plug-in. Even a 40-60 km EV range and an 80 km/h top EV speed would be fine. Most of our trips ara in town with a daily range of under 60 km.
9/23/09 at 12:00 AM

Larry said...
With all the technology Prius offers, it is very affordable. The true cost analysis is missing some other operating costs besides just purchase and fuel costs. There is maintenance, insurance, government incentives and licensing. Speaking for the Prius, one major advantage is brake wear. With the Prius hybrid system it uses the HSD to slow the vehicle, which extends the life of the brakes and lowers maintenance costs. So there are added benefits besides fuel economy.
8/18/09 at 12:00 AM

motor trade jobs said...
great and i love this car. it is very useful and comfortable
7/13/09 at 12:00 AM

ann said...
well great!i love or like this car! prado is fashion and fabulous car ! tpyota prado is for ever!
7/6/09 at 12:00 AM

Bob said...
6/30/09 at 12:00 AM

antoinette arianna said...
Thanks, Bill! Very helpful!
6/17/09 at 12:00 AM

Kevin Franklin said...
anyone who drives both vehicles back to back will wonder why they ever considered an Insight in the first place. It doesn't even compare to the Gen II Prius.
6/16/09 at 12:00 AM

Jaymo said...
Will there be an "MPG-friendly" or hybrid Sequoia coming out in the near future? With the same 8-person and cargo capacity? If so, I will hold off on buying a Honda Pilot and wait for the Sequoia. Thanks.
6/16/09 at 12:00 AM

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