• May 21, 2009
We all know that there is a hardcore group of consumers out there chanting the mantra of "No plug, no sale!" Okay, well, at least a few of you. The problem is that, like commenters on the internet, the loud fringe makes most of the noise, but often actually represents a very small percentage of the total population. For the rest of the car buying public, the realities of choosing a new car go well beyond the ability to "refuel" from a plug in the garage. This is the reality that Toyota, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and others have to face in planning for future electric vehicles.

How many people are actually willing to pay the price in purchase cost, range, and utility for a plug-in vehicle?

While Nissan and Mitsubishi are (publicly at least) very bullish on EVs, Toyota apparently remains more skeptical. Bill Reinert, Toyota's U.S. national manager for advanced technology, told a National Academy of Sciences panel in Washington that the company doesn't expect PHEV demand to top 50,000 units a year, and the total could be as low as 3,500. So far, the argument goes, in most real-world testing, PHEVs are showing relatively little benefit to justify the significant extra battery cost. Unless plug-ins are designed as such and able to operate through most of their range on electric power (unlike conversion PHEVs), the real world benefits may only be visible to dedicated hyper-milers.


[Source: Bloomberg]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 52 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      This guy has questioned plug-ins before anyways, so I'd take his opinion with a grain of salt.

      And it's arguable whether Toyota's approach to PHEVs is the best approach (taking the Prius and slapping on a little more batteries). I want to see how the Volt fares in the real world before making a judgment.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "like commenters on the internet, the loud fringe makes most of the noise, but often actually represents a very small percentage of the total population."

      So, so true. "We all want diesels!" "We all want hatchbacks!"
        • 5 Years Ago
        I want a diesel hatchback, haha.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Very true. More choices, more diesels, and less "green" snobery.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Can you show me a diesel hatchback (at least a Mazda 3 size.. not a 2 door GTI size clown car) that gets at least 40mpg, 0-60 in 9 seconds or less AND costs less than 20k?

        Otherwise.. I would stick to a 30mpg Mazda3 for 18-20k.

        Or a Honda Fit, Toyota Matrix.. all of these cars get low 30's and cost lest than 20k WITH options.

        VW TDI - $24k with a few options.
        Fit Sport - $20k with most options.

        VW TDI - 35mpg (comparison tests)
        Fit - 30 mpg (comparison tests)
        Real world for both of these could be higher.

        VW TDI - 16.4 quarter mile
        Fit Sport - 17.3 quater mile.

        SO basically if we add direct injection and a 6th gear to the Fit It will be on par with everything the diesel is doing AND be cleaner in emissions!

        I think Honda can add DI and a 6th gear and keep the price still $3,000 cheaper than a TDI.

        All the diesels I've driven in Europe that get over 50mpg all do 0-60 in over 13 seconds. So which one of you want to sign up for that car first?

        JUST AN FYI to Show diesel isn't EVERYTHING:

        VW Polo on GAS IE "petrol" - get's 5.9l/100km = 40mpg. SO even their gas cars get more than ours. BECAUSE IT HAS 84 hp!



      • 5 Years Ago
      Watching Toyota head straight for the drain is entertaining.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The problem with plug-in hybrids is that they require TWO fuels instead of ONE.

      Everyone understands the need to use gasoline or diesel, and most of us could get used to regularly plugging in an EV as a commuter car. But the plug-in hybrid is just a science experiment; it shows what can be done, but has no practicality.

      Consumers will not want to be bothered keeping track of two different fuels. This - and the $40k price - is why the Volt will fail. And the Volt will be cursed with two different performance curves - one for electric, and one for ICE. Drivers NEED to know what to expect when they push the accelerator down; the guesswork from the Volt will doom it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe they are worried that the Volt will be a huge success.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Plug-in hybrids have their place in the world, for those Americans that have a 10-20 mile commute to work and back everyday. Diesels, Hybrids, Hydrogen, and other alternative fuels have their respective places, too. It just depends on your situation and driving habits to decide which one is best for you.

      Crude oil doesn't need to have one definite replacement. Multiple replacements from various technological advancements can be just as good of a solution. We can use what technologies we have until the next big thing comes along.

      "The Stone Age Didn't End Because We Ran Out of Stones" - Sheikh Yamani

      They just found something better. We shouldn't be replacing fossil fuels just so we don't run out of them. Nor, should we find a replacement to free ourselves from the need of crude oil. We should be finding a replacement because it is better that fossil fuels and better for the environment. Force fitting technologies just does not make sense or help anyone in the long run.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A plug in serial hybrid with a battery range extending engine like the Volt is the ultimate solution for people that can't plug in frequently either due to place of residence or for when people want to take long trips. And as the prior commentor mentioned, the IC engine can be run optimally while charging the battery since the electric motor propels the vehicle.

      Since other uses of oil that make us dependent on foreign sources came up, I should remind people that reducing meat consumption is one way to significantly reduce our use of foreign oil, but nobody wants to talk about it. Instead, responsibility is planted on the auto and transportation industries.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Did all the ex-GM think tank guys really get a job at Toyota? Aren't they forgetting that the original Prius never made any sense? Why slam the plug-in just because it offers more of the same? It will sell on the sizzle (or in the case of a Prius, the lack there of).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Translation

      Additional Battery cost > Additional smugness factor
      • 5 Years Ago
      If your listening Toyota....I don't want one! Why the heck should I have to plug my car in? I would hate to be stranded somewhere after the battery runs out. I like the sound and feel of a real engine, not a bunch of batteries. Give me a hydrogen powered vehicle!
      • 5 Years Ago
      It strikes me as funny that the people who usually clamor for the greenest products, usually follow up with a disclaimer that they can't afford the cheapest of new (gas) cars, and usually buy clapped out rusty beaters that go through a quart of oil with every fill-up.

      • 5 Years Ago
      ok, if you drive 1000 miles per month, like the average drive does, here's what the math looks like:

      1000 miles / 40mpg = 25 gallons / month
      at $3/gallon, that's $75/month.

      Now assuming your magic plug in hybrid can double that, and average 80 miles per gallon, you're only saving $37.50 per month.

      Now most car loans are for 60 months, which is longer than the average ownership of a new car but let's use that as a reference point. 60 months at 37.50 per month is $2250, right? Take out taxes and interest and we're right about at $2000.

      So that means to break even in 5 years, the plug in prius will have to have a sticker price of less than $2000 more than the standard prius and even then you're just breaking even.

      That ain't happening.
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