• Oct 4th 2010 at 11:55AM
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Plug-in Prius prototype – Click above to watch video after the jump

Back in June, Inside Line rung out the Plug-in Prius prototype and managed a mere 62 miles per gallon. In September, the California Center for Sustainable Energy revealed that its Prius PHV returned a much more remarkable 83 mpg. Recently, Fully Charged's Robert Llewellyn landed his chance to pilot Toyota's plug-in hybrid and he was astonished by the vehicle's mileage gauge, which practically refused to budge from its electronically limited 99.9 mpg. At the end of the 300-mile stint, the Prius' gauge showed an average of 87 mpg. Even more amazingly, Llewellyn claims that he drove the Prius much like he would any other car, which implies that his hypermiling skills or lack thereof weren't put to the test.

To say that Llewellyn walked away in love with the Plug-in Prius would be an understatement. But that's enough sappy talk for now, just hit up the video after the jump. If plug-in hybrids are your cup of tea, then Llewellyn's video review will reinforce your belief that PHEVs represent the next big thing. Hat tip to Chris!

[Source: YouTube]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can someone test the plug-in hybrid in a climate? I wonder how much of an advantage it will have versus a non-plug-in in Michigan.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well 14 miles on pure EV mode would still enough for a lot of trips.
      But the trick is by using the combined mode.

      When I am accelerating I use a a bit of gas. But after achieving my target velocity the gas engine turns of and I keep it on electricity.
      Keeping your pace requires only very little power.
      so the energy of the small battery pack is stretched.

      that is a good concept in my opinion.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Robert Llewellyn is using a UK Prius. That 87 mpg (Imperial) converts to 72.4 mpg(US).
        • 4 Years Ago
        It also appears that he charged it 5 times during the 300 miles. So up to 70 of those 300 miles could have been electric plug in alone. Hey if you only drive 14 miles per day you could get infinite miles per gallon in it right?

        It just needs to be made clear that it wasn't a 300 mile trip in one sitting.
        • 4 Years Ago
        As an additional counterpoint, Car and Driver, Road&Track and Edmunds have all tested the Plug-In Prius and achieved lower mileage.

        They achieved 68mpg overall with their first stint coming in at 56mpg which included hilly sections as well as some highway sections in which speeds crested 80mph. Their 2nd segment was mostly city driving and they spent roughly 2/3 of the time on electricity which brought the overall mpg up to 68mpg.

        R&T had their plug-in Prius for a month and totaled over 1000miles on it. They achieved a mid-50 mpg overall efficiency. They admit to not always plugging in the car though(which will be an issue with the Volt as well).

        I don't have a link for the R&T test, but it was in the most recent issue which I got in the mail yesterday. Should show up on the website soon since some of the other tests from the same issue are up already.

        Edmunds also tested a plug-in Prius back in June and achieved 62mpg over 500miles of testing.
        quote - "We recorded our best effort in a 106-mile trip that incorporated some hypermiling techniques and got over 72 mpg. Our most fuel-inefficient trip over 90 miles generated 53 mpg. Our running average of 62 mpg over 500 miles shames the EPA's estimate of 50 mpg combined for a standard 2010 Toyota Prius." -

        Not bad figures all around, but not all that impressive either considering how efficient the standard Prius is. I personally think that the plug-in Prius is in need of a larger battery to take greater advantage of the EV capabilities.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Kudos to Toyota!

        • 4 Years Ago
        Can you name a better product out there right now Nicholas?

        What's that? No?

        Oh...ok then.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dude you're such a cheerleader.
        Yes the Plug-in Prius is a step in the right direction, but Toyota should have made this car years ago, instead they decided to waste resources in their Hydrogen program, but that is probably the reason why you clapped.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Simply calling it as I see it Letstake. You recognized you were "applauding".
        And you were not "applauding" PHEVs, you were "applauding" Toyota, you said it yourself.
        • 4 Years Ago

        You are right, it is all about context. I wish readers would take the time to go through your comments history and put you into context, then they will understand my objections . In the mean time we will have to agree to disagree.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "In the mean time we will have to agree to disagree."

        There is no disagreement here. We both like the PHEV Prius, correct? We're both happy that Toyota is moving forward in that direction?

        You mean you'll have to learn it's ok to agree with me sometimes.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So, you're criticizing me for applauding a PHEV that gets remarkable mpg, because you think the company that is going to make it should have made it sooner? LOL, you really are confused about the world, aren't you?

        I see our local utility's plug-in Prius quite frequently, and have often wondered how much better it might be vs. the standard - it's nice to see the production version get closer too market.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You really don't understand the concept of "context" either, do you?

        It works like this, when there's an article about something I like - I post praise. This article is about a PHEV made by Toyota, therefore I praise Toyota for doing something I like.

        Of course, since you brought it up, I do also approve of several of Toyota's other projects*:

        The little FT-EV, the Lexus LFA (and especially the Roadster version, rowrrr!). I like minivans and wagons so I also like the new Sienna as well as the Prius wagon/microvan thingy. Of course, I am also happy with the progress that's been made with the FCHV-adv, and I'm particularly waiting to hear more details of the FCV sedan that they're planning on selling for less than $50K.

        I'm glad that Toyota has both the foresight and the wherewithal to follow several different developmental paths in an effort to encompass a wide range of engineering and technical knowledge.

        Again, it feels strange to have to defend posting comment a admiring a car - or its maker - on an enthusiast blog, but I suppose Nicholas enjoys trying to stir up controversy where there isn't any.

        * list of letstakeawalk's approved Toyota projects may not be all-inclusive; there may be other projects that are approved but not listed.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Am I the only one that thinks these numbers are meaningless? If it's using a battery that was charged by plugging it in, you might as well say it gets infinite MPG. The overall mileage (using both electricity and gas) is also meaningless because you don't know (given just the MPG figure) how much electricity it used before it switched to gasoline and how far it went on how much gasoline. It's just nonsense.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Another nail on the Volt's coffin. Nearly 90 MPG in "normal" driving for the plug in Prius or a range of 25 (normal driving) to 50 miles (hypermiling) in electric mode for the Volt with a ~32 MPG rating when the ICE engine has to kick in to recharge. And the Volt costs more than 50% more than the Prius.

      The Volt was already a flop in the making, this car will solidify that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here is another thought: EPA mileage numbers could switch from "mpgs" to "dollars per year at x.yz cents per Kw/hr", just like they do for appliance ratings. My new high efficiency front load washer decal says "$12/yr using NG at 32cents therm or $20/yr using electric hot water @ $0.084 kw/hr".

      So a plug in hybrid sticker would have similar "Cost per year at such and such prices for gas and electricity and avg miles driven" and so could a gasoline car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They do already. Take a look at the Monroney sticker for any vehicle (Tesla included). They all give an estimated yearly fuel cost. The Tesla even gives it to you in 2 different price levels while ICE vehicles stick with a single figure that moves often.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Let's see how it does in North Dakota in January
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Plug-in Prius should do just as well in North Dakota as the non-plug Prius does, which is - Very Well. The LiIon main traction battery performs even better in cold weather than the lead acid starter battery used in other cars, and since LiIon does not contain water it will not be damaged by ultracold temperatures, unlike lead acid batteries that can suffer freeze damage if discharged.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You think the Volt's going to be any better?
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is stupid. You can't attribute miles driven using electricity to "mpg". Otherwise it is like claiming Nissan Leaf has "infinite" mpg.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you want to have some real-life gasoline consumption numbers then that is how you do it. In a sense Leaf really has infinite mpg, you don't use any gallons of fuel running it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh wow, OK this makes a lot of good sense dude.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I've been saying this for years: Toyota has engineered the Prius so that it could run on battery at highway speed with just a few changes in software and a larger battery. Numerous 3rd party companies ( http://www.edrivesystems.com and http://www.a123systems.com/hymotion)have been able to "upgrade" the Prius in such way without voiding the warranty.

      It shows you that Toyota could come out with a competive EV and be number one if they really wanted to. Instead, they chose to milk the Prius design for as long as possible. I know this makes a lot of sense financially, but is infuriating when you're a consumer waiting for EVs to be available. It's like seeing Lebrun James playing at half the intensity because there's no competition. Grrr...
        • 4 Years Ago
        See, but that's the beauty of Toyota's system...it's so easy to just convert it right over to a full EV. It will no doubt save them a ton of development costs down the line when it makes sense to go that route...which will probably be very soon after the Leaf turns out to be a huge success.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Jason - Toyota's system is overly complicated to be converted to a pure EV and it's design significantly limits top speed. Any pure EV will use a completely different drivetrain.

        The HSD is a great way to combine an ICE and EV power.

        As an EV - you've got twice as many motors as you need and too many gears.

        As an ICE - efficiency isn't that much better than a vehicle with a modern transmission unless you use an ICE on the atkinson cycle - at which point peak power is significantly compromised (and why a bit of EV power really makes it work).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Don't worry Nick, LeBron will play hard now that he's made "The Decision" :-)

        Seriously, you're right. It is so frustrating to see Toyota sit on their abilities when they could move ahead. I guess we'll see if they waited too long and let Nissan steal a march on them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Maybe, but Toyota have chosen a specific price/performance trade off, and no-one has proved them wrong so far.
        If you look at things like the performance of the Prius in cold weather, you would never know it is a potential issue, but there is a lot of clever engineering that has gone into making sure that no-one even knows it could be a problem.
        I'd give Toyota the benefit of any doubt.
        Kudos Toyota.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This isn't a full EV. It has substantially reduced performance in EV mode. Is it enough? Some definitely think so. But that still doesn't make it a full EV.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the standard Prius is just about the perfect hybrid, and it also serves as a great platform for Toyota to get ready for pure EVs as they gain production experience with EV motor controls, EV motors, EV accessories (AC, power steering) etc...

      But I really think the Plug in Prius is a lame duck. I think even EV fans with extreme range anxiety aren't going to be too interested in a plug in that will start it's engine regularly based any number of conditions. It sounds like it started the engine to pull out of his garage.

      Then there is the crowd that actually want to save gas to save money. This will almost certainly be a $5000+ option that really won't save that much extra fuel over the normal Prius.

      Ok for research, but I don't see this working as a product.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Huh? This has no downside after you exceed its EV range? What does that mean?

        I already did the math on this thing, the Volt and a regular Prius. For a normal person, at no point does the plug-in Prius have the lowest cost of ownership of the 3 vehicles. The Prius is the cheapest until you run some absurd number of miles (well over 100,000) at which point the Volt is the cheapest.

        To buy this, you're going to have to want to buy it in order to use less gas, not because of financials. And if that's your goal, why wouldn't you get a Volt instead, it'll use even less. Or a Leaf?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sure, but there are more crowds. A crowd of people will simply buy this cooler, higher mpg Prius model; unlike the Volt, this seems to have no downside after you exceed its all-electric range. Another crowd has a regular commute less than 14 miles but need occasional range extension from an engine, why should they pay more for a Volt?

        I think Toyota will sell as many plug-in Prius as they care to make. After 15 years they add a "You can plug it in!" occasionally electric variant to their phenomenally successful "You never have to plug it in" high mpg car. I'm more worried about the Volt; GM marketing[**] seems intent on attacking perceived competitors and undermining them on tax incentives, public charging, charging standards, etc. instead of selling what they have.

        [**] "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the Marketing Division of [GM] as "a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes"... It is notable that a future edition of The Encyclopedia Galactica fell through a wormhole in time, and its entry for GM is "a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came."
        • 4 Years Ago
        @why not:
        I am not sure how you managed to run a cost/benefit analysis to include the plug-in Prius as we have not been told how much it will cost!
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