• Sep 10th 2010 at 7:03PM
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2010 Plug-in Prius Prototypes – Click above to watch video after the jump

When Inside Line tested the Plug-in Prius in June, the team got around 62 miles per gallon over 500 or so miles. That's good, but not that much better than you can do with careful driving in a standard 2010 Toyota Prius. A better gauge of the Prius PHV's efficiency is now available thanks to the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), which has been testing one for seven weeks. Over 3,450 miles, the car returned around 83 mpg. That's more like it.

This week, CCSE officially starts the real Prius PHV tests of 150 units. The early results were from the getting ready phase of the test, and was made up of 13 drivers, each taking the car for between seven and 10 days. The drivers were selected because they use different driving styles and so can give an accurate mpg number for the CCSE to expect from the nationwide fleet. Mike Ferry, the Center's Manager of Transportation Programs, told Plugin Cars:
We had car enthusiasts and car agnostics, someone who normally drives a pick-up with a V8 and someone who drives a regular 2010 Prius. We had employees with long commutes and short commutes, people who could charge at home and people who could only charge the vehicle here at CCSE.
The best driver got 97.9 mpg over 379 miles. Over the 3,450 miles, the Prius used 42 gallons of gasoline and 300 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Given all this, we feel confident that 80+ mpg will be the marquee number for the plug-in Prius when it arrives in 2012, unless Toyota refines the car even further. Read all about Toyota's plug-in project here.

[Source: Plugin Cars]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago

      When GM announced 230 mpg for Volt everyone mocked them. This is worse - counting only one energy source while using two to drive.
        • 8 Months Ago

        GM use Autoprice X formula. Get your facts right.

        It is fraudulent to claim 83 mpg for prius.

        • 8 Months Ago
        Well, evnow, the GM Volt "230" claim also counted only the gasoline and ignored the electricity consumed. That figure was assuming very few longer trips and daily recharging.

        The plug-in Prius figures are more "real world". Besides, they did mention the 200 Kwh of electricity consumed.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yes, everyone mocked them for posting such an outlandish number.

        "Hey, we're GM and we're just going to grab some outlandish number from that cloud in the sky. Why? So we can get your attention. BTW..we know it won't average that."

        At least 83mpg is a more achieveable and realistic number. Plus, we'll know the true price of the car because it won't be receiving any subsidies from the gov't. Remember that article not too long ago that put the Volt at $20K more than the $42K it was listed at? Also, the Prius is a tried and true design unlike the Volt. Not saying the Volt will fail, I'm just saying that for GM to claim they've leap frogged the competition when the best hybrid they could come up with before was a mild hybrid in the Malibu just seems like GM is living on Gumdrop Lane in Lollipop Land.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Chris M

        You are wrong. GM used the draft EPA figures : "The number was calculated by the EPA using this probabilistic curve and it had the statistics of the population in it."


        BTW, I misremembered about Auto X-prize. Using their calculator got me 150 mpge for Volt.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Another way to look at it is in miles per dollar.

      A straight Prius getting 50 mpg gets about 17 mp$ (assumuing gas at $3/gal). A careful driver (like a buddy of mine) can get 60 mpg, or 20 mp$.

      The plug in Prius burned 42 gallons of gas ($126) and 300 kWh of electricity ($45 at the typical 15 cents/kWh). Total cost to drive 3,450 miles: $171. Average mp$: 20.2.

      Not really any better than what a careful driver can do with a stock Prius. But these weren't careful drivers, so it probably could be considered a small but meaningful improvement over the regular Prius. And of course a discounted night-time rate for electricity could increase the advantage for the plug-in.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Who knows, I probably still don't have it right. Turns out their are many right ways to do this.
      1 gal gas = 33 kwh

      42 gal gas = 1386 kwh

      1386 plus 300 =1686

      3450 miles divide by 1686 kwh= 2.05 miles per kwh.

      2.05 multiplied by 33 kwh =67.5 MPGe

      As far as this, "john1701a said, "My longest single drive (2 destinations, no recharging) was 64.7 miles. The average came to 69.4 MPG."

      You have to add 9% of one gallon of gas, at 2/3rds more efficiency to the 69.4 MPG to make up for the 3 kwh consumed to achieve the 69.4 MPG that are unaccounted for. It then becomes 63.16 MPG Now add 1/2 to 2/3rds efficiency for the electric propulsion 12 mile part of the 60 odd mile trip and you get approx 66.5 - 67.5 MPG.

      Around 60-65 MPG is very good. In a 60 mile trip it is the efficiency of the electric motor on the PHEV for only 12 miles that adds another 10 - 15 mpg to the Prii's HEV MPG total, normally 50 mpg.

      Toyota may have made some new innovations to run in ER mode more efficiently and gained some MPG's. Still not good enough to get rid of my "oil economy anxiety".

      • 5 Years Ago
      At least it's a more representative number, IMO, than 60 mpg.

      Way to go, Toyota! Now... just put that drivetrain into all of your vehicles, please.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Some of you guys have the specs regarding the Volt completely backwards. For one the Volt is actually more aerodynamic than the Prius. Second the MPG while CS mode will be in the 40-50 mpg range, easily out doing the new PHEV Prius which will have a price tag much higher than what you pay for a Prius now.

      The Volt will not only compete well with the new PHEV Prius, but should blow it out of the water.
        • 8 Months Ago
        what are you smoking? The Volt has one of the best cd of any vehicle on the road today, its entire design was based in a wind tunnel including the solid front grill.

        The Prius has a cd of .30
        The Honda Insight has a cd of .32
        The Chevy Volt has a cd of .28

        The mpg in CS mode hasn't been released yet so what ever your reading "based on GM's own calculations" is complete horse crap or you're reading your own tea leafs, but most indications point to the 40-50 mpg range but we'll have to wait and see once its officially released. Anything before that and its just speculation.

        You also are not accounting for the fact that you will not use any fuel at all for most of your driving needs, that is the whole point of the Volt, use no fuel most of the time yet don't have to think twice if you want to go to your buddies house a couple hours away its a beautiful concept. The whole point of the Volt is to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and it accomplishes this much more efficiently than the Prius.

        Further more, this is the first version of the Volt, and many improvements can be expected in the years to come with a dedicated on-board generator as well as increased electric capacity. This is just the beginning and Toyota is already scrambling to catch up and in two years time when the PHEV Prius hits the roads I'm sure GM will have some improvements under its sleeve.
        • 8 Months Ago
        2010 Prius Cd is 0.25, Volt has 0.28 -0.26 (depending of the source). You can check those values yourself from any website which lists their Cd:s. Frontal area seem to be pretty much same actually. Looks like 2010 Prius is a bit larger than its predecessors (which I used previously to calc its frontal area).

        I said "modern car". Any ancient tech bulky stone-age car like Hummer is not modern, and obviously any SUV:s can't compete with these (because of the size alone), but for example BMW 3 coupe gets same Cd as Volt. I have to admit that both are at the low-end of the list, but difference is pretty minimal to any modern cars. (There are quite a few that could compete with both, but are deliberately made to produce downforce, and that increases Cd. Look at F1 car Cd from the Wiki chart). I'd say _neither_ are extremely aerodynamic. Good, but not extremely so.

        If you want a really aerodynamic car look at Mercedes-Benz Bionic car. That's what practical aerodynamics means. Too bad that apparently has been forgotten and never made to production. I would really like to see how good mpg that would get in real world conditions.

        GM has released Volt range, and we know how big gas tank it has, therefore we can calculate its mpg with ICE only, and that is 33mpg. In a way that is GM own calculation because it is based on information they have released. Of course I (we) need to wait for real world numbers to say anything definite, but all I have heard from real world experiences indicate that it wont be much different from that 33mpg, it might actually be less than that (one real world measures number was 27mpg). In fact I would be pretty surprised if their *real* ICE-only mpg is over 40mpg (at any reasonable speed), because that car weights a lot. Rolling resistance will be a killer, even if aerodynamics are OK. You just can't get very good mpg from a car that weights that much with ineffective 4-cylinder ICE even if it is used only at steady RPM.

        I too believe that there will be improvements and you can do a lot better than what GM has done for this first generation Volt. That ICE they use (and how they use it) is ineffective, there are much better engines for generator-usage.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Volt is not more aerodynamic that Prius (Prius has both Cd and CdA better). In fact it isn't any more aerodynamic than ordinary modern car. Secondly it's mpg while in ICE only is 33mpg based on GM own calculation. You can't expect much better than that for car that weights nearly two tons.

        Where did you get your data? Some GM advertisement?
        • 8 Months Ago
        I still don't get your point regarding aerodynamics. A Prius with the same sized wheels has more drag than the Volt does yet you call it no better than any "modern" car, which is your own definition. The Volt has excellent aerodynamics while maintaining great style.

        The MPG in CS mode has not been released yet, your calculations are based on speculation on a system that hasn't been fully calibrated yet. The numbers you're reading has more to do with the software than what will actually be used.

        I'll say it again since you keep ignoring it, but the whole point of the Volt is to NOT use any fuel at all for most of your driving. During a typical work week you will use far less fuel if any with the Volt than you would with a Prius, yet it still has the functionality of normal vehicle with no range limitations. You're only concentrating on half of the vehicle, it would be same if I looked at the PHEV Prius that only gets 13 AER, who the hell would want an EV with 13 miles of EV range? Obviously its a lot more than just that, as is the Volt.
        • 8 Months Ago
        All CS Mode numbers for the Volt are speculation right now, GM has promised 50mpg since day one. The real number will vary from driver to driver, from the 30s to 80s or higher. Expect spectacular CS Mode mpg in slow stop&go city driving.

        GM tested both the Volt and the Prius in their wind tunner.. the Volt has a lower Cd than a Prius, when the Prius is using optional 17" wheels.. the Prius does better when it uses the standard 15" wheels. The Volt is not available with 15" wheels.

        Both cars have similar frontal areas.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The Volt has a cD of 0.27 compared to the Prius at 0.25. Either way, both have lower cD's than an average car contrary to Timo's statement. They are certainly on the low end of the scale regardless of your bias.

        Here's wikipedia's take on it with a somewhat extensive listing of cD's of numerous vehicles. Though admittedly, their list of current vehicles is slim, but at least it's something.

        Regarding the ICE mileage of the Volt, GM has not released any calculations as Timo claims. The calculations were made(by others) from assumptions and the info provided by GM has included terms such as, "about, at least, more than, etc." which make any calculations suspect since no solid info is provided, it's all speculative. We'll know more once GM actually releases full specs on the Volt.

        By my estimate, there's no reason for the ICE to achieve less than it would in a similar non-hybrid version of a similarly-sized vehicle since the ICE is able to work solely in it's most efficient range and doesn't have to constantly change RPM's. Considering that the similarly-sized(and platform mate) Cruze is expecting 40mpgs, I suspect that GM won't be happy with less than that from the ICE in the Volt. 40mpgs also happens to be the target that GM set out to achieve long ago as well. They've hit every other target they planned with the Volt, I don't expect such an important one as ICE mileage to be the one they fail on.

      • 5 Years Ago
      john1701a said, "My longest single drive (2 destinations, no recharging) was 64.7 miles. The average came to 69.4 MPG."

      Thanks for the info John. Now if we just knew how many kwh you used in electricity we could add in the kwh after converting them to gas and get a more accurate mpg using both sources of energy.

      The PHEV Prius uses approx 3 kwhs to go its 12 or 13 miles exclusively on electrons. On approx 33 kwh the PHEV went 52.7 miles. Off 36 kwh the PHEV went 64.7 miles =1.8 miles per kwh. 1.8 multiplied by 33 = 59.3 MPGe
      • 5 Years Ago
      My CD numbers came from actual wind tunnel tests done on all three vehicles with current methods used.

      Here's a snip

      “We had the comparably-equipped 2010 Prius with 17 inch wheels, and the new Insight,” he said.

      “The Prius came in at .30,” said Boniface. “That was a number that was verified in our tunnel, in Chrysler’s tunnel, and in Ford’s tunnel.”

      “The Insight was 0.32, and the Volt was .28,” he said.

      “I’d like to test the Volt in the same tunnel where Toyota got their 0.25 value,” he teased.

        • 8 Months Ago
        Prius standard wheels are 15 inch ones. So that test has been made with tires that give worse result than standard Prius would get. So that test got a false result. No surprise, it was made by GM.

        “I’d like to test the Volt in the same tunnel where Toyota got their 0.25 value,” Probably the same that gave Volt 0.26 value.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Huh? It's not a false test, its comparing similarly equipped vehicles and the cd of .30 was done at other manufactures wind tunnels as well out side of GM.

        GM also claimed .28 for the Volt not .26

        If the Volt got 1000 mpg with 500 miles of EV range you would still hate the thing
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's good to go.

      Now -- git er done!
      • 5 Years Ago
      MPG is worthless in a plug-in unless we also know how many kWh the car also consumed is.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Now compare to a BEV on price comparison:
        50 miles @ .25kw/mile given 0.10USD per kw = $1.25 vs.
        50 miles @ $2.50/gallon @ 50mpg = $2.50.

        That's half the cost to travel the same distance. If you live in Portland and pay .05/kw you're doing great. If you're in Hawaii and pay .25/kw, not so much.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Wow, how did I miss that.

        OK - so assuming that a normal Prius gets 50mpg, over 3450 miles that's 69 gallons.

        The PHEV got 83mpg and burned through 41.6 gallons or a reduction of 27.4 gallons.

        41.6 gallons would push a normal Prius 2080 miles, so 1370 miles were in effect driven on electricity. That indicates that the Prius traveled about 4.6 miles / kWh - pretty good and fairly typical for even pure EV vehicles.

        Great - so we know this thing works great even with this limited test - when will the average Joe be able to buy one and for what cost?

        This would be a great 2nd car for your typical 2-car family - one being an EV and the other a PHEV for daily driving and the occasional long trip.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I did it the lazy way and assumed that it got around 4 miles/kwh like the Leaf, that's 1200 miles.
        It leaves 2250 miles for 42 gallons, or around 53mpg

        300kwh sounds suspiciously round to me, so I am guessing that they were not too careful to get an exact figure for that, which can be tricky to work out precisely if all sorts of people were doing it.
        It's all near enough for Government work, so you will get over 50/gallon after the EV range - not bad.
        That is around 2.6 litres/kilometre in real money - a lot of hybrids will be out soon, and they will mostly be calculated that way.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I did it this way. 300 divided by 33 = 9.1 gal equivalent. Add 9.1 and 42 = 51.1 total gal. Divide 3450 miles by 51.1 = 67.51 miles per gal equivalent for the Prius PHEV.

        On the same amount of energy my EV would have gone 3,295 miles further achieving well over 132 MPGe.

        My EV on this amount of fuel would go 6,745. 51.1 multiply 33 = 1686.3 kwh. 1686 multiply by 4 = 6,745 miles.

        I used 4 miles per kwh to be generous, my car probably does better.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The article gives the kwh consumed - 300.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Gasoline, per gallon, has volumes more energy content than any battery they can stuff inside of a Prius. It's not even a competition. We all need to come to terms with that and move on. Part of becoming independent from fuel is realizing this fact.

      Think about it. 10 gallons of gas weigh 63 pounds and provide 1250 megajoules (MJ) of energy content... and you can get 10 gallons in your car pretty quickly, all things considered. For the same 1250 MJ, you need 2500 lbs of lead-acid batteries to be fully charged, which some of you are saying will take a whole night. There's no congruity here.

      The thing is, if we're all going to be driving electric cars one day, we're going to have to accept a new standard of measuring distance per unit of energy that will not be synonymous with miles per gallon. What we need is a new international standard in which the United States should participate. I say switch over to kilometers while we're at it. I would have agreed with miles per kWh earlier today, but if you say kilometers per kWh, the American idiot is fooled into thinking his vehicle goes further.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Oops, I meant 2500 kg of lead-acid batteries. That's 5,512 lbs! 87.5 times heavier! Even worse!
        • 8 Months Ago
        Electric motors do not exceed 90% efficiency. Especially when you take the power conversion required to adjust them to the speed you would like to go into account.
        • 8 Months Ago
        What often isn't taken into account is that electric motors are far more efficient than internal combustion engines. Electric motors typically exceed 90% effiiciency, standard IC automotive engines typically run 15% to 25% efficient. The result is, of course, that for the same amount of megajoules of stored energy, the EV can go 4 - 6 times further than its IC counterpart.

        It isn't necessary for batteries to match the energy density of gasoline to achieve the same driving range.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Modern induction magnet-less motors and inverters achieve 92.5% efficiency, INCLUDING the inverter/controller/upconverter, over a wide operating zone.. you can see efficiency plots over at the Remy-Delco web site, they probably make the motor for the Volt You can see similar plots at the Raser website for their motors and controllers. Combine that 92.5% efficiency with the 99% that lithium cells achieve (within a conservative DOD range) and the total efficiency will be 91.5%.

        A serial electric such as the volt has an efficiency of 83.9% from the genset to the wheels, that probably compares very well with the efficiency of the Prius, energy storage in the Prius's battery is not as efficient (nimh cells get hot) and there are losses in the gears/chain also. Unlike what is commonly believed, the efficiency of the Volt's serial path will be close to what the Prius mechanical/electrical path achieves. The Prius will improve once they ditch the nimh cells and perhaps increase the size of the main motor a bit.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @LS2LS7 Yes, they do. Typical AC electric motor exceeds 95% efficiency. Entire drivetrain rarely does however. You might get something like 60% efficiency from battery to wheels. Which is still a lot better than gas-guzzlers maybe 10-15% tank to wheel efficiency.

        @Wanted, you might want to make a reality check. Nobody is using lead-acid batteries in modern BEV. Lithium ion of some variant is the way to go.

        With modern lithium ion batteries that 1250MJ would be...

        1250MJ = 347kWh / 0.3Wh/kg = 1157kg. Still a lot. Then if we count the efficiency in it you could get with very good ICE engine something like 300miles out of it (30mpg), while EV could get roughly 1300 miles. 1300/300 = 4.3 for same range= 1157kg /4.3 =~270 kg of batteries. Of course that is only about third of the energy density of the very near future batteries, so you get that 300 miles with less than 100kg batteries very soon. In a bit more distance is batteries with 1.5-2kWh/kg energy densities.

        There is no standard for EV:s but standard SI unit for measuring electric energy is kWh, so obviously you can distances as xxxWh/mile or xxxmiles/kWh (or better yet, drop miles and change to xxxkm/kWh or xxxWh/km)
        • 8 Months Ago
        There is no way of combining the two figures and coming up with an authoritative answer, especially internationally.
        In the US averarge mileage is around 12k, so if you take off around 5k by assuming that you drive every day and use up your full EV 'allowance' then you would do 7k on petrol, for a ratio of 1.4:1 for petrol/electric
        In the UK the average mileage is around 9K, so the ration would be 0.8:1
        So you would have better mileage figures for the same car in the UK compared to the US.
        On top of that, if you did not use your full EV 'allowance' every day but drove short distances normally and long distances occasionally you would get much worse mileage.

        The only sensible way is to provide two figures, one for electric performance, the other for petrol.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Lead-acid was a typo! I refuse that reality check.
      • 5 Years Ago
      These figures are great, but if these calculations are adopted and allow the Prius to carry an 80mpg sticker, then the Volt really will be sporting a figure well into the triple digits, perhaps the original scoffed-at 230 figure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If you have a professional driver you can fudge numbers.
      Soccer moms' driving will give you a true number.
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