By on July 13, 2011

Every time I drive a hybrid – EVERY time – someone asks: “so where do you plug it in?” It’s as if more than 10 years of hybrid sales in the USA have gone by without the public knowing that a hybrid is not an electric car. Finally, however, Toyota has announced there will be a hybrid Prius on sale in the US where the answer isn’t “um, you don’t, the gas goes in over there.” Now the answer will be: “you plug it in up here and put gas in back there.” Yep, the 2012 Plug-In Prius is coming, so be prepared for blank stares as passers-by try to process the information. Toyota tossed us the keys for a week’s drive in a pre-production version so we could see what the hype is all about.

In 2010 Toyota kicked off their plug-in program by sending 150 Prius-Plus-Cords to the USA. All are powder blue, all destined for the press, commercial or government fleet use. Toyota has been cagey about how much the 2012 plug-in will cost and exactly when it will appear in showrooms, but the online rumor mill tells us the premium will be $3,000-$5,000 and we should see them before the year is over. The price difference doesn’t buy you bigger motors or fancier interiors; the only real difference lies in the battery pack under the carpet in the trunk and the software under the hood.

A regular Prius uses a 1.3kWh nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack, the same technology that powered my first 1990s cell phone and my Apple Newton, the plug-in Prius uses lithium-ion cells, the same thing that’s in your trendy iPad2. Of course trendy batteries cost a pretty-penny, but they also pack a bigger punch: capacity is up from 1.3kWh to 5.2 kWh in the plug-in. Rather than popping in a single larger battery, the plug-in actually uses three packs all hidden under the cargo area. There is one small pack with a similar capacity to the regular Prius and two larger packs with a capacity of approximately 2kWh each. When charged, the Prius will first discharge the two larger packs, and when the car drops out of EV mode it uses just the smaller pack and runs just like a regular Prius.

In addition to the capacity bump, the new pack allows a higher discharge rate than the NiMH pack and that’s important. What does this mean in English to a regular Joe? It means that the new Prius can operate electric-only in every-day driving, even up hills at speeds up to about 50 MPH while accelerating normally and up to about 70MPH if you are ginger on the pedal. The cost of this electric-only fun will run you some $0.50-0.60 depending on your electric rates and, unlike a Leaf it won’t take you all day to charge going from empty to full in 3.5 hours on 110V or 1.6 hours on 220V.

Inside, the Prius is the same as always: the dash still wears wavy-patterned hard plastic, the 1980s modern disco-dash is still in the center, and the overall theme is still focused on weight reduction. Indeed the only interior difference is the EV icon on the dash, a charger under the passenger seat, and the bigger battery in the trunk. Despite the changes, the plug-in Prius weighs only slightly more than the standard model as lithium batteries weigh less per KW than the nickel units, so even though capacity is up 400%, weight is only up 100lbs or so.

OK you say; it has a bigger battery, so what? Well, with that bigger battery you store electricity that was (hopefully) generated more cleanly than the Prius’ onboard gasoline engine can muster. If you live on the right or left coasts, using your household electricity would (supposedly) result in lower CO2 emissions, if you are into that sort of thing. Since you’re adding electric mojo to the mix, your gasoline usage will of course be reduced on your daily commute. Here’s where the disclaimer “your mileage may vary” has never been more appropriate. ABC News Polls claimed in the results of a 2005 survey that the average American commutes only 16 miles a day. Our own informal Facebook poll revealed similarly short commutes for our followers. I however commute 109 miles a day (because I’m insane). Because of my commute, my first reaction to the 14-mile range was: it wouldn’t make enough of a difference. 14-miles? Who cares? Right? Well, here’s how it worked out for me:

Starting with a full tank of gasoline and a charged battery, I made it from home at 1,100ft above sea-level to the 2,250ft mountain pass on the fumes of electrons and then started downhill. First thing I noticed on my way down to sea-level on the other side is; the larger battery pack in the plug-in provided greater capacity for regenerative braking, a real benefit on my terrain as a regular Prius fills it’s battery to capacity before I am 1/3 of the way down. At 20 miles from home my commute-route turns from mountain terrain to flat highway. By this time, the engine had run for brief moments with negligible fuel consumption resulting in some 130 MPG average. This is where most Americans would end their day. At 30-miles my average had dropped from the high triple digits to a (still) lofty 96 MPG. At 40 miles, my average dropped to 93 MPG, 50-miles came in at 85mpg, and by the time I reached work (54 miles later) my economy dipped to 83.4MPG. That’s the point of the larger battery.

Just to verify my mileage calculations were grounded in reality and not based on some optimistic ECU, I topped off the Prius at the gas station around the corner from the office and my informal calculations bore out the ECU with an estimated 82.5 MPG. (Gas-pump mileage calculations on such a small quantity of fuel are difficult, so keep that in mind) How does this compare to a normal Prius? On my same journey in a regular Prius I averaged 52.9MPG, and the plug-in Prius with a discharged battery averaged 55.6. Why the difference? The plug-in’s larger battery pack seems to take greater advantage of regenerative braking on my mountainous commute.

My round-trip commute average, only charging at home resulted in an average of 72MPG meaning my commute of 109-miles required only 1.5 gallons of gasoline. I tested a regular Prius on the same commute and it required 2.1-gallons for the same journey. Meaning for me, it would take 5-8 years to pay off with the expected price premium of $3,000-$5,000. Is it worth it? Let us know in the comment section. As fate would have it, two weeks after the Plug-in-Prius, GM loaned me a Volt for a few days. With a full battery charge and an EV range of 40-miles, the Volt averaged a startlingly low MPG average of 48 on this same 109-mile trip primarily because the economy after the battery ran out averaged a paltry 30.1MPG. Comparisons to the Leaf are tricky since the Leaf is electric only, I’ll let you draw your own conlusions.

Out on the road, the plug-in handles just like a regular Prius: the low rolling resistance tires deliver moderate road noise and precious little grip in the twisties. If you have ever wondered why hybrid drivers drive so slow around corners, it’s the rubber to blame. The steering is numb and a bit over-boosted, body roll is average and acceleration is leisurely. The Prius’ mission is efficiency rather than driving pleasure, so keep that in mind before you trade-in your 335i. The one area the plug-in differs from the regular Prius is acceleration. When the battery is fully charged you have to exceed approximately 3/4 throttle to involve the gasoline engine. Even in mountainous terrain gentle-to-average throttle is met with only the light whine of the electric motor, an experience you can only get in a plug-in or fully-electric vehicle. If you treat the pedal gently, it is possible to break 70-MPH electric only, but that does mean you have to piss off everyone behind you on the freeway on-ramp. If however you drive it like a normal Prius, then somewhere around 45-50 MPH the gasoline engine will turn on (this is accelerating at a normal pace to freeway speeds). Unlike a normal Prius which will use the engine for the majority of the locomotion, the plug-in lets the engine more-or-less idle when accelerating gently using the plug-in battery for most of the oomph. Contrasting back to the Volt, flooring a Volt with a charged battery doesn’t involve the engine [Ed: unless it’s cold out or you’re over a certain speed or the Volt’s algorithms only know what else].

Since this is a pre-production car, we will have to wait until Toyota releases official pricing and produces a production car to assess final range figures and posit an opinion about whether or not it will be “worth it”. However on the face of things it looks to be a must better proposition than the Chevy Volt providing you some obvious mileage benefits and a possibly plausible pay-off date, something the Volt has trouble achieving. If you live in one of the 15 states where the Prius plug-in will be available, stay tuned for a full review when the production models start rolling off the line.

Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and fuel for this review.

Not a fan of our Facebook page? Too bad. For our facebook peeps, here’s what you wanted to know: Eric R: nope, not possible. Brian J: Yep, I have to say I did feel green-superior while driving it, probably because of the “plugin” stickers on the side. Jamie F: It is more practical than a Leaf, but less “whiz-bang.”

Fuel economy average over 870 miles: 59.9

Percent of time in EV mode: 16%

Performance statistics as tested:

0-30: 3.42 seconds

0-60: 10.35 seconds (“regular” Prius: 9.5 Seconds)

¼ Mile: 17.7sec @ 77.9 MPH


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45 Comments on “Pre-Production Review: Toyota Prius Plug-In Take Two...”


  • avatar
    LectroByte

    I’ll certainly give it a look when I am ready to replace my 2nd gen Prius in a year or 2.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    It would seem that if you had to choose between this, a Volt, and a LEAF, the Prius is the best choice for a 109-mile daily commute. The Volt’s fuel economy is subpar after the battery dies (its wheelhouse is commutes within its electric range, which is at least twice the Prius’s) and wringing out the LEAF such distances daily is a stressful and potentially torturous prospect.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The graphics Toyota used for the Prius IP are about as retro as a Challenger with Fortunate Son playing on its radio.

  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    Are there subsidies available?

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      $2500 federal subsidy.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_incentives_for_plug-in_electric_vehicles#New_plug-in_electric_vehicles

      Lithium batteries cost around $600/kwh, so the extra 4 kwh of battery should cost around $2500. Add another grand for charger and misc bits to support the plugin hybrid, and then whatever extra profit margin Toyota wants to make.

      I believe the 1.3 kwh pack is also being replaced by lithium, which might reduce the price if the lithium replacement pack is cheaper to make than the nimh pack.

      I would guess that the plugin option would be $2k-3k extra after subsidy. Expect to see a price “drop” once the subsidy falls off, to maybe $4k on top of the non-plug prius.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    Not that I have heard of yet, but expect to be able to use HOV lanes in your plug in shortly. It may qualify for some tax credits.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    With the current state and cost of battery technology, the 14 mile range hits quite a sweet spot. My daily commute is all of 9 miles, that, plus a little grocery shopping and the quick recharge means I’d do ~60 miles/week pure electric. My weekly weekend trips are about 200 miles r.t., which, working from your example, would consume 3.5 gallons. 260 / 3.5 = 74 mpg. Even with the slight premium I pay for green-generated electricity, my weekly charging bill would run around $2.50, for a net weekly energy cost of $16. My present car @ 25 mpg is ~$40 (assuming $3.80/gallon). Savings/year = $1250. Perhaps not quite enough to justify on a strictly financial basis, but very close.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      I think you could justify a regular Prius, but the plug-in one seems a stretch. Alex’s driving situation involves fairly significant hills, where the added capacity of the plug-in helps. If you don’t have hills, then you are only trading $4 for a gallon of gasoline for $2 of electricity–and to get that trade you need to plug the vehicle in 4 or 5 times.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        I park in my garage every night so plugging in is no inconvenience what-so-ever, as I assume it is for thousands others like me. You are correct that each individual should do some analysis to figure out which Prius/Leaf/Volt suits their usage.

        I’m liking the Prius plug-in just on principle, but don’t believe that I could justify the up-charge over the regular Prius on cost alone. Now if they would just give any of them some steering feel…

      • 0 avatar
        HiFlite999

        Agreed, the $ gain of the plug-in vs. standard Prius will be small; the value of the gain depends on what the final cost is, and the details of your commute. Since a “green option” is similar to many other automobile options however, cost can be a secondary concern. (Hard to argue the spending of $1500 on for a special paint job on the basis of value, for example). The use of Li instead of NiMH batteries has added green value for those interested in such things and is a factor outside of an economics argument.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    It seems to me that the regular Prius is already very efficient, so improvements to it are well along the slope of diminishing returns. Plus, to get the additional benefit over a regular Prius, you’ll have to plug in every time before using it–that’ll be OK for the hyper-miler, but will wear out quickly for the person who buys a Toyota as a least-effort-possible appliance.

    So, I think I would rate the vehicles: regular Prius, plug-in Prius, and then the Volt bringing up the rear.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Move closer to work.

    Or telecommute.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Neato.

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    Double neato.

    Will Jack Baruth articles get original TTAC videos too? :)

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    Are the charging cords quick disconnect? Does the car warn you from driving away if the charging cord is still connected?

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Do you have information on what the 240V charger from Toyota requires? the Nissan Leaf website says it needs 40 amp circuit (#8 wire). I’m right now finishing the lower level of my house and want to run a 240V wire to the garage in case I ever get a plugin of some sort. now is a good time to do it before i close up the wire route.

    (I understand there are 115 chargers… but for a possible pure EV or a more-than-14-miles Prius this isn’t going to happen)

    does the 240 v charger come with the car, or is it a $ 2K deal like with the Leaf? (and why is the charger not int eh car itself, how do i plug-in when I’m visiting my relatives that likely don’t have my charger…)

    • 0 avatar
      frozenman

      Go ahead and run the #8 wire as a minimum to your garage outlet, the peace of mind of the larger wire is worth the extra cost.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Just like the Leaf and the Volt the actual “charger” is likely in the vehicle. Now if you use the quick charge port it requires an external actual charger. Otherwise the “charger” that plugs into the small port is just a glorified power cord whether the included 110 15a unit of the up to $2K or more installed 240v cord. It will also likely have the same SAE standard connection. The Leaf will charge just fine off of a 30a dryer circuit with the less expensive Volt charger. The trick is you need a Volt VIN to buy the Volt “charger” at this point.

      A friend of mine got a Leaf a few weeks ago and has been using that Volt charger that he attached a cord and twist lock plug to. He then made a couple of adapter plugs so he can plug into a 30, 40, or 50 amp circuit depending on what is available. Since he rents he made a Y connector so the dryer can stay connected while the car is plugged in, he just can’t use both at the same time.

      If you really want to be ready I’d go for a 50a “range” circuit, the upcoming Focus BEV is supposed to be able to take a faster charge than the Leaf. If you really really want to be prepared I’d just put a 100 or 125 amp sub panel in the garage. Then you can easily run multiple circuits for power tools, air compressor, or welder if you want and add that BEV circuit when it comes around.

    • 0 avatar
      amtoro

      The current generation of EV’s and PIHEV’s come with Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, which is a nice name for a smart cord that communicates with the car and indicates the maximum current available; the charger itself is in the vehicle.

      The LEAF comes with a Level 1, 120V-12A EVSE but you can have it modified for about $350 (look up evseupgrade) to accept 240V-16A as it is only matter of the software in it, some new parts and a new plug; many owners now use that one as their primary (and portable) EVSE instead of an Aerovironment, Leviton, etc. The circuit needed for the LEAF, if you decide to buy a hardwired Level 2 EVSE, is a 240V-40A single phase, but as the car only draws 16A, a EVSE built to deliver more is not an advantage.

      The likelihood is that the Prius, as the Volt and the LEAF, will come with a Level 1 EVSE that you can carry in the trunk, and as the battery pack is so small, you will not have any problems charging from a 120V-12A wherever you are; just remember to use a heavy gauge extension cord if the outlet is far away, as the resistance in the wire increases with the length and it may overheat.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    A Prius 5 with the Performance Plus package is $35K based on 2011 model year pricing. Another $3K to $5K for plug-in capability that provides 10 to 15 mile battery power range and you’re pushing $40K. Toss in $2K more for a 240 charging station in the garage, and you’re north of 40.

    The is it worth it math seems to make more sense on a Prius 2 or 3, you need to go stripped, not equipped, if you’re buying a plug-in Prius to save money.

    Even at $35K to $38K for a loaded Prius V plug-in without the Performance Plus option package or 240V charger, a fully optioned Focus titanium edition comes in for up to $10K less. That’s going to buy an awful lot of unleaded gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      The Prius 5 with every option is pushing 35k, but that’s not really the model to base pricing on. That car parks itself, has dynamic radar cruise control, LED headlamps, etc. etc. I’d be certain that the average Prius model is sold under 30k and still likely has climate control, smart key etc. etc.

      Then you are closer to the Focus, and the math works a little better with the plug-in. Even if it’s equal, would you rather give your money to the oil companies? Or Toyota/Electricity providers??

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        A Prius IV is rather stripped compared to a fully loaded Focus. I priced out a Prius IV with no options or packages and came to $28.8K according to Toyota’s website. Then add $2K for a charger $3K to $5K for the plug-in and you are to $33.8K minimum, $35.8K maximum, split the difference $34.8K.

        I went to Ford and built a Titanium 5-door Focus with automatic, 401A option package, parking technology package, moonroof, 17″ alloy wheel upgrade, leather interior with Tuscany red accent package, and voice activated navigation, price came to $27,525.

        Price difference is $7.3K – that buys a lot of gasoline. Take away the charger and I’m still at $5.3K, it’s a little better.

        To the point of paying big electric or big oil, I haven’t forgotten about Enron, or the screwing I took on my electric bill with the fallout. They both suck in my book. Twenty-percent of electricity generated in the United States comes from nuclear power, the Focus creates zero nuclear waste.

      • 0 avatar
        cmoibenlepro

        Why would you purchase a Focus Titanium for almost 30k, when you could have a Chevy Aveo for less than half the price?
        Basing your choice on price alone is silly.
        The Focus is a smaller car than the Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Agree with cmoibenlepro. The Prius V is less expensive and more efficient than a Ford Explorer. End of story.

    • 0 avatar
      kowsnofskia

      For starters, why would you buy any car “loaded” if your major goal is to save money on gas?

      If you have all sorts of money to throw at (largely pointless) options, then your need to save on gas must not be too great…

  • avatar
    Sam P

    “With a full battery charge and an EV range of 40-miles, the Volt averaged a startlingly low MPG average of 48 on this same 109-mile trip primarily because the economy after the battery ran out averaged a paltry 30.1MPG”

    Wow. I figured the Volt would be in dire straits after the Prius plug-in came out, but that’s striking. Sayonara, Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      No, it really isn’t bad news. The Volt isn’t meant for 109 miles commutes. If people buy one with that kind of commute, they are dumb. For the 70% of people who drive less than 40 miles per day, it makes more sense.

      The plugin Prius though… it has some problems. Mainly, it doesn’t provide enough value over the regular Prius.

      http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1057287_2012-toyota-prius-plug-in-by-the-numbers-would-it-work-for-you

      Their math is $860 bucks for 100k miles. Is that good return for a $3000 to $5000 dollar option?

      But, buying a Prius or Volt has never been about saving huge amounts of money because you can get compact cars that get good gas mileage and pay thousands less up front. People buy them because they want to use less gas or care about the environment. For this reason, the Volt, Prius, and plugin Prius will all have a place.

      • 0 avatar
        Canuck129

        Is it a 3k option? Or is it a 5k option? I keep seeing those numbers, but they are 2k apart.

        It is kind of important to find out exactly what the premium will be before we start the nickel and dime math on whether or not it is a good purchase decision for someone that wants to burn less gasoline…

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        –“The plugin Prius though… it has some problems. Mainly, it doesn’t provide enough value over the regular Prius.”

        But it does provide enough value over the Volt.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    With CAFE driving MPG standards steadily higher and volaitle gas prices the Plug-In Prius could potentially be Toyota’s most significant car ever depending on the Official CAFE rating. Car companies with surplus fleet MPG currently sell or trade CAFE credits to other car companies. If the Plug-In prius is as popular as the conventional Prius then Toyota could potentially have a significant CAFE advantage for years to come while the rest of the car companies play catch up… at least until the second gen Volt comes out.

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    fwiw I put Yokohama AVID ENVigor tires on my Gen 2 2005 Prius and I corner like a madman when needed. The tires never squeal and never roll over. The suspension/body roll is the limiting factor the tires can handle anything the Prius can dish out.

    I haven’t noticed any loss in fuel efficiency vs the stock tires and every other metric is superior.

    Though I’d avoid them if you have grooved pavement over much of your typical drive. The tread will follow a groove. I’ve only noticed it once in the time I’ve had them but I’ve read from others that it can be significant.

    If that worries you I’d consider the General Altimax HP as a second choice.

    Either way I take advantage of the 51 psi sidewall marking and run my tires above decal levels. Keep that in mind regarding my claims of MPG and cornering.

    I can’t see the benefit of driving the most fuel efficient mid sized car in the world as though it’s on slicks. If a tire doesn’t have excellent wet/dry traction and at least moderate snow traction I don’t look at it no matter what eco or low rolling resistance label they put on it. Though if I could find rolling resistance numbers for all the tires I’ve used and all the tires I compare before buying it might play more of a factor.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The tires never squeal . . .

      Then you’re not actually cornering very hard, especially if you’ve reduced the available traction by increasing the pressure!

      But yeah, I would imagine the Prius has acceptable traction with a decent set of aftermarket tires.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      I replaced the stock 185/65 Goodyears with some 195/60 hydroedges (I was living further south in a very rainy zone at the time) and it made a big difference. I feel like it could still use some bigger sway bars, but I’m pretty happy with the handling. Your tire pressure sounds like a bad idea to me, you might be reducing your contact patch too much at that setting. I run 38 front, 35 rear.

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        @LectroByte

        I had a job a a company less than 2 miles from home and with garage temps + short trips and I could afford to push the limits for tire pressure.

        In the summer or on long trips I’m less likely to pump up the pressure and for general use I don’t keep it at the sidewall max (51 psi on the tires I have now and 44 psi on the stock tires).

        I do however keep it higher than most and I recommend it.

        “From the standpoint of tire wear, running very near the Max air pressure seem to minimize uneven wear, Toyota’s recommended tire pressure wears as an under inflated tire, Toyota appears to be biased toward ride comfort in the Gen II. [Prius]”

        Lifted that from http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-prius-main-forum/84879-best-tire-pressure-prius.html

        The official sticker says 35F 33R.

        Common recommendation on the forum is 42F 40R to avoid uneven tire wear.

        http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-prius-fuel-economy/32512-tire-pressure-poll-where-yours.html gives some interesting data (with the options in R/F format instead of F/R for some reason) though the poll option 46/48 should be 45/48 if you follow that the rear pressure should be at ~94% of front pressure. In fact 44/46 pair should be 43/46 by that logic.

        another poster makes the statement “Whether that difference needs to be preserved (absolute difference), increased (percentage difference) or decreased (doesn’t affect anything) at higher psi has not been scientifically validated”

        I think the car handles just fine with the PSI in the 40s (low mid or high I haven’t noticed ride/handling difference). If I ever notice any uneven tire wear I’ll lower it a few PSI but I don’t expect that to be an issue based on past results. Too many people running above sidewall pressure with even tire wear for me to really worry about wear issues.

        My general procedure for filling a tire is to fill it a higher than I intend to use, let it sit overnight, then bleed to the desired pressure. For example if I wanted 45/42 I’d pump to 50/48 or so and check again when cool. It’s not an issue if you are only adding a pound or two but when a tire is severely underinflated or when going from stock pressures to side wall max the temp/pressure differences can be severe.

        Where you live, where you drive, how you drive, brand of tires, condition of tires, etcetera will be a factor and you’ll have to pick the correct tire pressure for your usage.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I say you would be better off buying a 4 yr old Prius for $12-13000…and a Mustang GT to enjoy yourself in. Same amount of money.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Several points:
    -This is amazing engineering.
    -Regardless of “investment”, we should use less fossil fuels in our cars.
    -As to “investments”, cars are not investments. Investments pay you. Cars cost you. Cars are an expense.
    -3 to 5 grand for this is about what ud pay for a sport package in alot of cars. Is it worth the “investment”? When will those Bilsteins be “paid off”? How about the Fosgate stereo?
    -I wish these cars were more fun. I took my aging 30mpg VW for a spin yesterday, had a blast. Mt friends Honda hybrid is, well, sufficient, i suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      It’s a funny thing how folks get all fiscally prudent on you when talking about a Prius. Folks who’d never think to bring up the “payback” of the 4×4 or the leather package on my truck, suddenly get all interested in telling me that my Prius is never going to pay off.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @LectroByte: I don’t know, it seems like anytime anyone brings up the Prius (or Volt, or Leaf) there’s always a discussion about the “payback” on one of these cars.

        Jerseydevil has it right, all cars are always a liability. Period. There may be some exceptions to that rule, but for the vast majority of purchases, cars are money pits. Some are lesser money pits than others.

        I can live with the downsides of automobility, just because of the freedom. I spent a lovely weekend with my family (and in laws even!) because I was able to get into my car and go. There’s a lot to be said for that.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        FWIW, my own calculation shows that for the typical American driver, the regular Prius gets even and starts to pay you back at the start of the 5th year at today’s fuel price (as compared to a Matrix). Not bad, if you ask me, especially since the Prius is nicer.

        People who claim that it can never pay back ignored the residue value of the hybrid system. They would say, “oh the Prius is $5k more expensive than a Matrix, over the next five years you can’t make it back”. What they forgot is that a 5-year Prius also sells more than a 5-year Matrix.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    Why do you push people to facebook?

    Your ad are on this site, not face book, or would you rather just kill ttac, and just be on facebook?

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    You simply cannot define “payback” on any vehicle that helps the US become energy dependant by running on domestically produced electricty vesus imported oil. Electric cars are not the “smoking gun” to solving all our energy issues but they are definitely a piece of the puzzle.

    Hooray for cars like the Volt, Leaf and PI Prius.


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