Now that full specs for the production version of the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in have been officially revealed, Pike Research has sufficient data to compare its operating costs to those of the Chevrolet Volt. Looking at the research firm's chart, as simple as it is, shows us that drivers need to think of that point of intersection that happens at around 70 miles. Of course, Pike's chart illustrates only one scenario where gas costs $3.50 a gallon and electricity is 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. Any modification to either of those two numbers will alter the point of intersection.

With that stated, here's what the chart tells us: for trips of less than 70 miles, the Chevy Volt gets there for less cash. Anything longer, and the Prius Plug-in makes less of a dent on the pocketbook. Makes sense, right? What the chart doesn't show, for some strange reason, is that most trips under 15 miles should cost exactly the same with the two vehicles, since they'll both be using electrons.

Putting the Volt's superior electric-only range against the Prius' exceptional fuel efficiency means that potential consumers should ask themselves one question: "Which is more important for me calculating my driving costs, electric-only range or fuel efficiency?" The answer will depend on what kind of driving you do most days.


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  • 57 Comments
      Naturenut99
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have to disagree with the 15mile starting point. 1. I dont believe the EPA rating is going to be 15mi. range. 2. But most importantly, The Prius PHEV even during the first 15mi is still not in absolute EV mode, at any time during that period the ICE could start if you accelerate to hard or etc. Where the Volt is in absolute EV mode for its 35mi. range. I'm not hating on it, but it is not an EV with a range extender. All these options (Volt, Prius, Leaf, etc) have their group that they fit, but they are hard to compare one to one. We can however "compare" to see what fits our situation the best.
      John R
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just to extend the comparison, for the same 70 mile trip, a Nissan Leaf is cheaper to drive than either of these two. ;)
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Pike? Oh no....
      mexicanjetta
      • 3 Years Ago
      The prius is bigger. These are not comparable vehicles.
        Smith Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        @mexicanjetta
        The Prius is just BARELY a midsize by EPA definition and Volt is on the high side of the compact class so this is an exaggeration.
          usbseawolf2000
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Smith Jim
          Check your fact again. Prius' total interior is 115.3 cubic feet. EPA midsize range is from 110 to 119 cu.ft.
          Smith Jim
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Smith Jim
          I don't care if the interior volume is 27 cubic megajoules. I'm not a big fan of large cars anyway. The Prius plug-in is going to flop big-time when people find out the all electric range is less than 15 miles. Who knows how low that number will be after the EPA has it's way with the car.
          usbseawolf2000
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Smith Jim
          The Plugin Prius can be an EV in the city and Prius on the highway. You can pick how you want to use the battery with a touch of a button. Most of the trips in the city are very short so this makes a lot of sense. To me, a compact 4 seater Volt is a commuter car. The midsize 5 seater Plugin Prius is a family car.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      In all seriousness, people are taking this a bit too far. $1 over 120 miles? The average consumer will look and say, "The Volt has a nicer radio - lets buy it" or "The Prius is red!" when it comes to efficiencies that close. And, as Spec mentioned (look at me, backing up Spec twice) - if there is a different of $5000 (at least on credits), I don't think people will worry that much about $1 over 120 miles.
        Smith Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        What if the difference were $1.84 per 120 miles? Do you think that would make a difference in people buying habits? That's the difference between a Prius and an Insight (or Civic hybrid) and the Prius outsells the Insight/Civic hybrid by a huge margin. The MSRP difference between a base Prius and base Insight is approximately $4000 dollars. If gasoline stayed at $3.50 per gallon (I know it will not but let's keep it simple) it would take a Prius driver 260,000 miles to break even compared to the Insight.
          Michael
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Smith Jim
          Have you seen the Insight. It's not only cheap looking on the outside, but also on the inside.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've said this before and been downrated, dunno why. Per gallon of gas, the prius, or prius plug in will save you more money and cut your environmental impact in emissions by a third. All the Volt's battery does is save you a gallon of gas over the trip. Chevrolet's 1.4 can't touch Toyota's 1.8 in efficiency. 40mpg on premium VS 50mpg on regular.. it just can't compete.
        hodad66
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        for my use... 5K per year, the Volt drives on EV (almost) constantly. It is just as good as a Leaf (in my duty cycle) but saves me from the necessity of renting a vehicle for the occasional vacation trip.
      Sophia
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just got an offer from a dealer to take $6950 grand off the price of a new Volt because they are not selling as well as GM thinks they are. Prices are getting closer, maybe sales will pick up from it
        Ziv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Sophia
        Interesting, and possible, barely. But probably a bit of a fib. There are still people waiting months to get a Volt. When an order gets cancelled the car gets snapped up in days. But there are GM dealers that are actively working against the Volt, like that Republican congressman who owns a Chevy dealership in PA, so it is possible. What an idiot, and I am a conservative... But having said that, GM may start to have trouble selling the Volt at MSRP if they don't start steadily dropping the MSRP next year. By then the early adopters will all have theirs and sales will slip. But it will take several months of sales at the higher pace which only started this month to get to that point. GM's marketing team has really shot themselves in the foot by stocking up their demo fleet before they got a few months of decent sales in.
      PR
      • 3 Years Ago
      They both look pretty awesome. Add a line for the average EPA rated car in the United States of ~22 MPG average, and they both spank the hell out of the average gassers being sold.
      Levine Levine
      • 3 Years Ago
      Pike Research is a shill for GM
        Ziv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        I though Pike Research was a shill for fuel cell makers? Can you be a switch hitting shill? Seriously, though, this graph is pretty neutral. Both the Volt and the PIP are compromises, and each will work better for different people.
        Michael
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        How do you get that from this study? It looks like the PIP won the comparison in their mind.
      Robyn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Want to start making some extra incomé every month? You can... For more information, visit following website http://www.LazyCash39.com .....Your extra incomé is just a click away... Don't miss it
      Grendal
      • 3 Years Ago
      We just saw the comparison of the Volt to the Cruze and determined that was meaningless. Now we get the Volt compared to the Plug-in Prius, and while more similar, also meaningless. Depending upon driving needs, usage, and desires as a consumer will determine which vehicle you will buy. One vehicle is not inherently better than the other.
      BipDBo
      • 3 Years Ago
      "What the chart doesn't show, for some strange reason, is that most trips under 15 miles should cost exactly the same with the two vehicles, since they'll both be using electrons." This is true only if you drive the Prius like you're driving Miss Daisy. You can drive the Volt however you want in pure EV mode. There's a lot of talk about the costs; What is the payback, etc. This really misses the point. The first EV adopters aren't doing it for their own personal thrift. They want to do it because they believe that it is the right thing to do. Will a Volt be cheaper than a Cruze over its life? Perhaps not, but in my view, it's better to spend money on research and developement than to spend it on oil. So the EV may be a little bit of a rich mans toy for a while, but that's a good thing. It's at least a much more sensible purchase than a Corvette.
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