By on June 30, 2011

Fortune [via CNN]’s Alex Taylor III is clearly as disappointed as I was with Joe Nocera’s toothless, vaguely pro-Volt piece in last Sunday’s NY Times, and he’s riled up enough about it to lay down a savage call-out the Volt hype machine. In fact, it’s a less scientific, less comprehensive (and, by virtue of the passage of time, less speculative) version of a piece my father wrote in 2008, comparing the then-undelivered Volt with the also unlaunched 3rd gen Prius and Plug-In Prius. Taylor’s foil for the Volt is the plug-in Prius, which now arrives in less than a year, and in the eyes of the longtime industry writer, the contrast is stark:

Volt enthusiasts like to recite the fact that the Volt can go 35 miles on battery-power and then shift seamlessly into gasoline-engine mode, saving on gas and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It is an impressive technological improvement but one that is already obsolete.

Here’s why:

The Prius Plug-in can go about 13 miles on battery-power alone. But when the battery-only power expires, it switches over to Toyota’s proven hybrid system. That system delivers 51 miles per gallon in the city and 48 mpg on the highway in the standard Prius.

The Volt can go about 35 miles in EV mode, but after that it switches over to pure gasoline power – no more battery assist. With only its gas engine running, Popular Mechanics magazine discovered the Volt gets just 32 mpg in the city and 36 mpg highway.

So on trips of 13 miles or less, the Prius plug-in and Volt deliver the same all-electric mpg: zero. On trips between 13 miles and 35 miles in length, the Volt beats the Prius. But after 35 miles, the Prius handily outscores the Volt.

Yup, that about sums it up. And rather than just letting the cold truth work its magic, Taylor can’t resist twisting the knife.

To date, the Prius Plug-in has been ignored by EV enthusiasts who are being revved up by the flood of favorable publicity coming out of Detroit, which for all its pretensions to global sophistication, remains a house of mirrors whose view of the outside world stops at Eight Mile Road.

Whenever somebody congratulates Volt for winning multiple car of the year awards, they should remind themselves that those same award-giving bodies passed over the original Prius hybrid in 2001 in favor of the PT Cruiser. Toyota has gone on to sell two million Priuses, the most revolutionary car of the last 75 years; the Cruiser, a novelty car with no technological pretensions, has since gone out of production.

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134 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: The Obsolescence Of Volt Edition...”


  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    “So on trips of 13 miles or less….”

    So what? Most Americans do not have commutes of 13 miles or less. Hence, the Volt makes sense.

    If Toyota had brought the Volt to market, they would be hailed as geniuses for delivering a gas-free, range anxiety-free commuter. But it was GM, and this is TTAC, so it just has to suck, somehow, for some reason.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      The relevancy of this article by Fortune/CNN, and in turn the relevancy of the plug-in Prius relative to the Volt will really come down to its price.

      The crucial crux of this article isn’t that the Prius PHEV does 13 miles per charge, or does 50mpg after that, rather that it will likely sell for $30k before those hefty rebates, with the final price not too far from the regular Prius.

      The problem with the Fortune article is that its speculative on price that has not been announced. Prius PHEV may very well end up being ~$35k, and the entire validity of the argument may fall apart. If Toyota was smart, they would price the PHEV even at a an initial loss to protect the “Prius” brand’s reputation as the go-to green vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        In terms of comparing the two cars technologically, government subsidies really shouldn’t enter into the equation.

        The thing with the Volt is that it has a very small range of superiority, which, subsidies aside, really isn’t enough to justify the extra expense. The extra 22 miles of range would save you about 160 gallons of gas a year (and that’s if you drove exactly 35 miles every day of the year). So it would take about 20 years to save the difference (sans subsidy). And that’s under ideal conditions for the Volt. If you are like me, with a short commute on most days, but doing fairly long road trips on a regular basis, the Prius wins hands down purely as a fuel saver. And it’s 10g cheaper. Probably.

        And anyway, as a matter of pure engineering, the car carrying vast amounts of technology that just become dead weight after a while is just less elegant than the car that uses everything all the time.

      • 0 avatar

        L’avventura: Based on current trends in li-ion costs, I believe that the cost of the plug-in Prius net of the tax credit could (and should) be only a very modest amount more than the regular Prius.
        This is the key difference, and affects all the calculations: the PHEV Prius may very well cost $10k less than the (net) price of a Volt.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        @toxicroach & Paul Niedermeyer

        The Fortune article really doesn’t use the government subsidies in their argument, but the Prius PHEV would get a smaller rebate since the rebate is calculated by the battery size, as the rebate was really designed specifically for the Volt (its no coincidence that the rebate tops out at 16 kwh- the exact battery size of the Volt).

        The Prius PHEV should still get a around a $3,000 tax credit if uses a 5 kwh battery. Obviously, a 5 Kwh battery costs significantly less than a 16 Kwh battery and weighs a lot less. Also, the Prius is mass-produced car that needs a lot less effort and cost to fit a PHEV system within. So the Toyota could very well sell the Prius PHEV for $30k, but the real question is if it really would sell it at that price.

        However, the real question may be how many cars each manufacturer can actually deliver to the consumer,the Prius PHEV may be able to deliver cars in the thousands, or tens of thousands, per month compared to the Volt/Leaf that may be stuck in the hundreds per month.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Actually, you guys are wrong to consider purchase price.

        The cars should be treated as SUNK COSTS, because that is how their typical buyer is going to look at them. If people are doing lowest TCO calculations, they’re not buying new cars like the Volt or the Prius. They’re buying disposable sub-$1000 beaters, and driving them into the ground. You know, like the people who simply can’t afford new cars buy their cars.

        In all likelihood, both the Volt and plug Prius will be purchased by people who can comfortably afford a pre-rebate Volt at full MSRP, but take the rebate / lower price to accept a smaller Volt / crappier Prius.

        The decision of Volt vs plug Prius is probably after eliminating something like the BMW 3-series as a bit too obvious and “wasteful”, and deciding to “go green” with a car which burns less gas. To the extent that either car gets better mileage and burns less gas than a 3-series, the car will sell fine.

        In this case, the Volt does better simply because it’s more fashionably-styled, and less common. The ability to tell your dinner-party acquaintances that you go 1000+ miles between fill-ups is just icing on the cake.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        @SVX pearlie

        As I’ve responded to your response below, both the Prius PHEV and the Volt represent a compromise in ideology relative to pragmatism.

        Ideologically the Leaf serves eco-conscious better, as it uses no gasoline, and pragmatically any affordable regular compact sedan, or even the regular Prius, serves most better than any PHEV.

        Both the Volt and the Prius PHEV stand in the middle of this, neither being as ideologically sanctimonious as a pure EV Nissan Leaf or pragmatic as pretty much anything else on the market (again, a Cruze is more pragmatic than a Volt).

        The folks that can outright afford a Volt can afford to have the Leaf as something that isn’t their primary vehicle. A Prius for long trips (or a F-150 or BMW 5-series for that matter), and a Leaf for everyday runs. Both the Volt and Prius PHEV satisfies neither ideology nor pragmatism. However, if the Prius PHEV can be sold not far from the regular Prius than both ideology and pragmatism can be satisfied (however, I’m doubtful the Prius PHEV can really be sold for $30k as Fortune suggests).

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I don’t know about “suck… for some reason” but I can think of 41,000 reasons why it’s not a particularly good mainstream transportation solution for real people.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      You’re right. It was GM, hence it just has to suck.

      And you’ll never change the mind of myself or the legion of GM burned former customers, no matter what bang wizardry RenCen pumps out. It’s still GM. They still burned us (in my case as recently as 2004). And they should have died if not for Barack Bush bailing them out.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’m just waiting for the plug-in Civic, so I can cut a hole in my bumper and park in electric car spots.

  • avatar
    V572625694

    And the Corvette sucks compared to the Ferrari. C’mon, people are going to buy the vehicle that makes sense to them, and having more choices is better than fewer. These reflexive attacks on alt-fuel vehicles and Detroit are getting uninteresting.

  • avatar
    tced2

    The Prius will never go out of production? (do they still make the 2001 Prius?)

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      Toyota has been selling the Corolla in the U.S. since 1970. A good trade name with a solid product behind it can last a very long time, even if many of us think today’s Corolla has passed from “solid” to “stolid”.

      Given Toyota’s history, the Prius name may be around longer than most of the readers of this page.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Like the Toyota Tercel?

        Or Toyota Echo?

        We’ll see…

      • 0 avatar
        Otterpops

        For that matter, I don’t think there was ever a generational change in the Corolla, even the shift from RWD to FWD, that completely abandoned all aspects of the previous model, so it has a lot of continuity.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        Ya, like the Toyota Corona, Paseo, Echo, Celica, Supra, Tercel, MR2, T-100, Solara, Cressida, Previa, Starlet…

      • 0 avatar
        modelt1918

        Hey HoldenSSVSE-
        How many brands of Chevrolet can you name that are lost to history? There are so many that I don’t have enough space or time to name them all! Most of the Toyota names you mention have gone on to new and larger versions. Chevrolet has names that just go away!
        Oh and Joeveto3, yes I dislike ANYTHING GM makes with that much passion.

      • 0 avatar
        Canuck129

        Holden,
        Some of those names were around for decades…

        Toyota has a pretty decent track record for that…

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    So I understand the counterpoint being made. But what I don’t understand, is the anger toward the Volt and GM.  You really dislike them THAT much? 

    I’m a car guy. I like them all, even the crappy ones with their foibles (the Volt is anything but).  And maybe I’m some sort of rube, but I appreciate the effort.

    We ARE on a CAR site.  Right?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      We are on a car site which purports to be “The TRUTH About Cars”.

      It is disappointing that TTAC would blithely accept such an inaccurate statement about the Volt without even bothering to do the most basic check on fuel consumption.

      • 0 avatar

        The words quoted are from Alex Taylor III. I posted them to stimulate discussion about the comparison between the Volt, Prius PHEV and Leaf, not discussion of my decision to post them. Here’s my review of the Volt… horribly biased, isn’t it? Well, you know me, I just hate everything GM has ever done and it’s my secret personal mission in life to make them look bad in every way possible. Isn’t that right, SVX pearlie? About sums it up, doesn’t it HoldenSSVSE?

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    “So on trips of 13 miles or less, the Prius plug-in and Volt deliver the same all-electric mpg: zero. On trips between 13 miles and 35 miles in length, the Volt beats the Prius. But after 35 miles, the Prius handily outscores the Volt.”

    This is wrong.

    If the Prius has a combined 49 mpg and the Volt has a combined 34 mpg, then the crossover point isn’t at 35 miles, when the Volt’s generator starts, because the Prius has already been burning gas for 23 miles.

    That is, when the Volt switches from battery to gas, the Prius has already burned 23 miles / 49 mpg = 0.5 gallons.

    At the time both cars have consumed 1 gallon of gas, the Prius will have covered 13 miles AER and 49 miles gas = 63 miles. However, the Volt will have covered 35 miles AER and 34 miles on gas = 68 miles.

    If you do the calculation properly, the Prius doesn’t surpass the Volt until the cars have covered 85 miles and burned 1.47 gallons.

    So:
    . up to 13 miles, neither car burns ANY gas
    . 13 to 35 miles, Volt is unquestionably better, having burned NO gas at all
    . 35 to 84 miles, Volt is still better, burning LESS gass
    . 85+ miles, Prius mpg advantage finally comes into play.

    In the real world, with most daily round-trip routes being more than 13 miles, but less than 85 miles, the Volt delivers better net fuel economy than the plug-in Prius.

    That is, the plug Prius only gives better mileage if one regularly drives 90+ miles at a stretch. The Volt is a better commuter, while the Prius is a better weekender.

    • 0 avatar
      Trend-Shifter

      +1
      For the “plug-in” hybrid to be effective it should fulfill your normal M-F routine on EV power.

      In most cases that will require a round trip back home. I don’t think many employers will be investing in charging stations and paying the electric bill. For non-work destinations your stay is typically measured in minutes. So a recharge is not even an option.

      So at a maximum one way range of 6.5 miles, the “plug-in” Prius is obsolete right out of the gate.

      So does that make the Leaf the winner? Remember what John Lennon said “life is what happens while you are busy making other different plans”. Well “life with the Leaf will not happen unless you strickly follow your plan”.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        “So at a maximum one way range of 6.5 miles, the “plug-in” Prius is obsolete right out of the gate.”

        It’s probably OK in Japan or Europe, where distances are shorter than the US. Most of the world doesn’t understand the enormity of just how BIG the US is.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Eh, no the Volt doesn’t really win that competition. That extra 22 miles of range comes at a huge price premium that really can’t be paid off for a decade or more under ideal conditions for the Volt.

        BTW, according to the Department of Transportation, 51% of commuters have a round trip commute of 20 miles or less. 27% are in the Volt sweet spot.

        http://www.bts.gov/publications/omnistats/volume_03_issue_04/html/figure_02.html

      • 0 avatar
        west-coaster

        I don’t think many employers will be investing in charging stations and paying the electric bill

        Actually, in areas where business emissions are a concern (like California), employers WILL put in charging stations and give their workers free juice, in exchange for credits from agencies like the CARB, AQMD, etc. Right now they subsidize vanpools, rail passes, etc. for the same reason.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      OK, now let’s look at fuel consumption over a typical week, based on a 32-mile commute and 15k annual miles:
      . Mon = 37 miles (5 miles errands)
      . Tue = 32 miles
      . Wed = 32 miles
      . Thu = 32 miles
      . Fri = 37 miles (5 miles errands)
      . Sat = 97 miles (lots of errands)
      . Sun = 21 miles (short errand)

      On a weekly basis, fuel consumption is like this:
      . 4 gallons by Prius
      . 2 gallons by Volt

      For a typical driver, a Volt is likely to burn half as much fuel as a Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I just received a Motor Trend where they compare the Leaf, Prius, and Volt. Their Volt returned about 28 mpg running on gasoline while the Prius returned 50 mpg. They calculated energy use based on driving 41 miles a day, a 15,000 mile a year pace. Never mind that the Leaf is probably not going to be as easy to put that amount of mileage on in a year, as trips can’t deviate from the average by much. Energy for the Prius was $24.06 for the week. Energy for the Volt was $17.77, while the Leaf was $14.12. The Volt was $15,011 more expensive than the Prius before subsidies, to potentially save $327 a year on energy. With the obnoxious taxpayer subsidy, it was still $7,511 more expensive than the Prius. Drivers who drive more than 15,000 miles, or who drive longer distances will pay more for energy with the Volt than they will with the Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Only 33% of commuters drive as much as you.

        http://www.bts.gov/publications/omnistats/volume_03_issue_04/html/figure_02.html

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        toxicroach,

        The assumption that people use Volts or Leaves for commutes that comprise all miles driven during the year exaggerates the value of their drivetrains. Whatever people said in the survey you linked to, the average new car in the US is driven between 14 and 15 thousand miles a year. If the people who took the survey are correct about their commuting and are representative of the general population, that means that the Volt’s pathetic mileage on gas and the Leaf’s inability to complete a long trip in a timely manner are far more of an issue for most new car buyers. That’s because it means that a large percentage of miles driven in a year are extended trips.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Yeah that’s part of the point I’m trying to make— on extended trips the Prius dominates. 20 miles ev range isn’t really enough to cover the cost difference.

        The Prius is just a lot more practical for most people most of the time.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        SVX picks a commute that is ideal for the Volt. Shocking.

      • 0 avatar
        neevers1

        CJinSD

        The reality is for 99% of people a prius, leaf or volt isn’t about money, if it were they wouldn’t buy one, it’s about something else.

        The prius doesn’t make financial sense either, vs a cheaper car, but still sells well, is it better financially than a volt or leaf, perhaps, but that doesn’t’ mean it makes sense.

        Having driven the volt and the prius, I think the volt is the better car to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        neevers1,

        You’re right, the purchase isn’t usually about money. Sometimes it is motivated by being poorly informed or an urge to make a statement. The Motor Trend article I mentioned has a map indicating which states driving a Leaf instead of a Prius would create less CO2. It is the minority of states, since production of our electricity produces anywhere from .002 lb/kW-hr to 2.14 lb/kW-hr by state. For the Volt, they provided a map charting which states it would produce less CO2 if you were to never plug it in and instead run it on gas, even though running it on gas means it is a 4 seat compact that weighs 3,767 lbs empty that gets 28 mpg. What they didn’t chart was Prius v. Volt, which would have almost certainly only made the Volt the lower CO2 choice in three north west states and Vermont. I don’t buy into CO2 being a pollutant, but undoubtedly many(most?) potential customers do.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      For the long-distance driver with 20k annual miles and an 45-mile round-trip commute:
      = 6.0 gallons by Prius PHEV
      = 4.1 gallons by Volt

      The Volt still burns less gas than the Prius PHEV. I’m not running the numbers, but I suspect, at these kinds of distances, the cheaper *regular* Prius would have the lowest TCO.

      The extra half-gallon of AER in the Volt is a compelling advantage, and takes a rather specific combination of very close daily commute (less than 15 miles round-trip) *and* very long weekend trips (over 145 miles).

      If you drive a “low” 12k annual miles and have a 15-mile round-trip commute:
      = 3.1 gallons by Prius PHEV
      = 3.2 gallons by Volt

      Finally, the Prius PHEV beats the Volt (but not by much). This took quite a bit of fiddling with the numbers to make this happen, but shows that, in the real world, for some (small) number of buyers, the Prius PHEV will burn less gas than a Volt.

      • 0 avatar

        Now factor in that the PHEV Prius may well cost (net) $10k less than the Volt…

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Everyone is grossly overestimating the average commute.

        Most people’s commute is under 20 miles round trip.

        Errands and such round out a lot of the rest I guess, plus road trips. Point being, the math that is coming out of making it all round trips doesn’t really reflect reality. Most people drive a lot of short hops, with the occasional medium trip and long trip. Also no one is figuring in the recharge time here; the Prius is about 3xs faster to recharge, so it’s actually practical to, say, get home, plug in, have dinner, and then go out all charged up. So a lot will depend on how religiously the owners plug in.

        The Prius rules the long road trip.

        ALso, btw, if you can charge at work (3 hours on a normal outlet), the Prius would be gas free up to 26 miles (which would cover well over 60% of Americans), while the extra mileage for the Volt would only cover a relatively small portion of the population.

        Overall, for most people, the Prius wins, hands down. In terms of gas used and operating cost, the Prius will work for many more people than the Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      Excellent analysis, you’ve just saved me a couple of minutes. As usual journalists do the bare minimum of analysis, shoot from the cuff, and get the wrong answer.

    • 0 avatar
      Otterpops

      Gee, I’d better remember that if I decide to start a cab company.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      I think you’re missing the original point of the Fortune article, or you didn’t read it at all. The fundamental argument is Price VS. EV range VS. Practicality VS Ideology.

      Depending on your range, you could probably make the argument to forgo the Volt and Prius PHEV entirely and go for the Leaf. You have a larger EV range and no gas is consumed.

      This is where the practicality argument comes in, as PHEV can go beyond the battery range. So the question becomes if the extra 20 or so miles on EV range worth the extra $10k (supposedly) in price.

      Because no matter what way you look at it, from a dollars and cents perspective, no PHEV is as practical or as cheap as Cruze or even regular Prius. None of it makes any real fiscal sense in any calculation.

      Both the Volt and Prius PHEV are a compromise in ideology. Neither is more practical than a regular vehicle, or ideologically pure as an EV. The question becomes price & practicality. The argument that Fortune makes is that you can get a PHEV Prius without a huge price hike over a normal Prius, moreover the smaller battery means you can use a normal 110v charger and it charges quick.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      The volt won’t even go 13 miles without needing some kind of repair.

  • avatar
    dwford

    It doesn’t matter which one is better since both will be too expensive to make economic sense anyway. Buy a regular car and laugh all the way to the bank at the preening greenies burning money instead of gas.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Exactly.

      Just like if a buyer walks into a Toyota showroom to buy a Prius and drives away in a Corolla because maybe the Prius was too much, or too ugly, or too whatever, Toyota still got a sale.

      If a person walks into a Chevy showroom to buy a Volt and drives away in a Cruze – that’s a win.

      I just posted some of the math – and with the new C-Segment cars that are out now, even a completely stripped Prius 2 doesn’t add up anymore, gas would have to be $9 a gallon. Even if you factor in the X factor like depreciation (which is off kilter right now with no new Prii available) the math still won’t add up; and to reach an average gas price of $9 a gallon over a five year window, you would have to have gas selling at $15 to $17 a gallon in year five – damn close to impossible.

      Buy a Civic, Cruze, Focus (stripped), or Elantra and laugh to the bank.

      • 0 avatar
        kingofgix

        “even a completely stripped Prius 2 doesn’t add up anymore, gas would have to be $9 a gallon.”

        Thats wrong. At least unless you state your assumptions. A Prius makes sense if you keep it long enough and drive it enough, even at $3/gallon. And they have proven to be exceptionally reliable and low maintenance.

        In 108,000 miles, my Prius cost of repairs (including warranty repairs) is exactly $0. The only routine maintenance has beenoil, filters and tires. Shocks and brake pads are fine. The entire car drives like new. Good luck getting that from a Cruze.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        @kingofgix

        No it doesn’t now that C-Segment cars have gotten so much more efficient.

        Compare a Hyundai Elantra GLS with an automatic versus a Prius 2, sticker to sticker, 15,000 miles a year, 50% highway, 50% city, the The Hyundai will use about 140 gallons more of gas over the Prius. Yup, that’s it.

        You’d have to own the Prius for about 11 years to break even at $4 a gallon. And you can’t call the current Elantra a pile of crap in the segment.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The problem with all of these Prius vs. C Segment calculations is that the EPA tests are flawed when it comes to heavy duty stop and go traffic. For example I once measured an Altima at around 8 mpg during a commute out of Boston. Start/stop technology might fix the issue, but for now like any purchase decision, you have base it on your own personal situation – not EPA numbers.

        In addition to fuel economy differences, I also think that hybrid technology also mitigates some of the stresses put on a vehicle in heavy stop and go, so there is another economic factor to consider that can’t be derived from a government label.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        An Altima getting 8 MPG in heavy duty stop and go traffic???

        Back in the day my Chevy Avalanche would bottom out around 12 MPG in the worst Seattle has to bring; and Puget Sound is consistently listed in the top ten places for traffic, on par with Boston.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Except that for some buyers using less gas is worth the extra money, just the way the upsize engine is worth the worse gas mileage and higher insurance rates that come with buying more power. Different strokes for different folks.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    I find great irony in the picture.

    1 Chevy Volt = $41,000 – $7,500 government hand out = $33,500

    1 Toyota Prius = $27,000, we’ll say a moderately equipped one to keep things fair plus $10,875 less a 10% tax federal government tax credit = $36,788, plus the battery system is covered for only three years, plus Toyota says they may or may not cover other related repairs if the A123 System is found to cause a problem, AND total load capacity of the Prius is reduced to just 637 pounds – four average adults will overload the coverted Prius.

    http://editorial.autos.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=834454&vv=1000

    Net MPG and range of both – about equal, so cost recovery of the A123 conversion is impossible.

    Ya I get, Toyota will have their own solution next year – but the A123 conversion math doesn’t add up. But more importantly when you compare a Prius to a Cruze Eco or Hyundai Elantra or other new to the party C-segment gas sippers, the price of gas would need to be $7 to $9 a gallon average for five years to even get close to break even on the extra cost of even buying a completely strippped Prius 2.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      Where’s the plus 10875 coming from?

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        Look at the picture. See the picture. See the A123 sticker on the back bumper of the Prius? That’s how much the A123 plug in conversion kit costs installed. I didn’t yank the number out of my butt.

        The plug-in Prius is going to have a lot more than an incremental price increase because the North American Prius is the only Prius in the world that still gets the Nickel-Hydride battery; all other Prii are more expensive globally and have Lithium-Ion. Toyota has said we still get the older technology due to price pressure.

        Will it cost $10K up – of course not – but I think the delta will be closer than what people think. And no one is talking about the $3,700
        “sport package” that Toyota announced for the Prius today – driving up the price of a loaded Prius 5 now north of $36K (the sport package is only $3,000 on the 5)

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      The current Prius is some $23K. The Volt battery is said to run $10K or so. The PHEV Prius battery is half that size, so add $5K to the $23K Prius and there’s $28K. Except that you also delete the current $2K Prius battery. Now you’re looking at $26K. Take away $3K in rebates and $36K seems somewhat unlikely, to say the least.

      When calc’ing the PHEV Prius burden, remember to subract the current battery before adding the new one. My guess is that curb weight will be 3250-3300 lbs and GVW will increase a little, too.

      Time will tell. I dooubt that Toyota is going to waste a lot of time and money building a car that can’t sell on the merits.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        That’s not where the number came from.

        The Prius pictured has the A123 plug-in kit (look at the Prius and the big A123 sticker on the back bumper). That costs $10,875 installed today.

        It’s all moot anyway – the math on a Prius no longer adds up given the major advances in MPG, equipment level and build quality in the C-Segment. You’re better off with an Elantra, Cruze Eco, or Focus.

      • 0 avatar

        Holden, you’re getting hung up on a photo that I picked for composition rather than strict relation to the story. The A123 conversion has nothing to do with the story… I just wanted a photo of a Volt and Prius “fighting” over a charging point. This was all I could find. The OP compares the OEM Prius PHEV to the Volt, so let’s not confuse this by bringing the A123 conversion into the discussion.

      • 0 avatar
        SpinnyD

        Holden, perhaps this will help.

        http://www.toyota.com/upcoming-vehicles/prius-plug-in/

        no charger needed, you just plug it in to a standard 120v outlet, 3 hours to full charge.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    The final paragraph says it all really. It is always hindsight which gives us the clearest picture of which was the best car. I’ll predict this: In a decade or so, we’ll look back on the plug in Prius and the Volt and conclude that the Prius was the better car. Why? Because Toyota will undoubtedly make and sell far more plug in Prius’ than GM ever will the Volt.

  • avatar
    BobAsh

    “The Volt can go about 35 miles in EV mode, but after that it switches over to pure gasoline power – no more battery assist.”

    WTF????

    Is he serious? Does he really want to say that Volt, which is basically a pure EV with gasoline engine serving only as generator, goes “without battery assist”, while Prius (which is basically a gasoline powered car with electric motor to help it save fuel, equipped with bigger batteries as an afterthought, so it can go at least a small distance at small speeds at pure EV mode) is much better for switching to “proven hybrid mode”?

    This guy is an idiot.

    And BTW, Prius Plug-in sucks. I can’t compare with Volt, as I’ve never driven one, but I hated the Prius.

    • 0 avatar

      Once the battery pack has been depleted the volt’s gas engine kicks in. The power it generates is *only* for driving the wheels. It doesn’t recharge the battery nor does the battery assist in improving MPG. Thus it is running gas-only without any battery assist. Essentially the volt is an electric car with a gas engine that works as a generator to keep it going once the batteries are depleted.

      The Prius on the other hand is designed to use the engine, electric motor & battery pack in concert to optimize fuel efficiency, switching between them (or combining them) as needed for the driving situation. So once the smaller battery pack is depleted it uses the combined hybrid system to optimze fuel efficiency.

      51/48mpg for the prius vs only 32/36mpg for the volt make all that pretty clear.

      Also, you have driven a regular prius(what generation?) but not a plug-in prius. And you have never driven a volt but you know the plug-in prius sucks compared to a volt? Bizzarre comparison there.

      • 0 avatar
        BobAsh

        You’re WRONG. The ONLY thing the engine in Chevrolet Volt does, is recharging the battery. It is technically incapable of running “gas-only”.

        When the Volt’s battery is depleted, it is continually recharged from the generator, and of course by regenerative braking as well (regenerative braking is the main point of using a hybrid – on a steady highway cruise, hybrids get similar mileage to conventional cars with similar engine size).

        In fact, the reason for Volt getting worse mileage can actually be it’s incapability of going “gas-only”. Unlike the Prius, the Volt does not have physical connection between the wheels and engine (generator), so with depleted battery, the engine needs to recharge battery and THEN the electricity is used to power the wheels.

        Not that it changes the outcome in any way (Volt still gets more mileage), but the reasoning is kinda upside-down.

        And let me tell you that I know much better than you what I’ve driven. As you may or may not know, there’s a bunch of Plug-In Priuses already, used for demonstration and press purposes (which is how I got my hands on one). I can dig a up a picture of the thing being recharged…

        And I wrote it sucks, not that it sucks compared to the Volt. It sucks because it drives like shit (try it in a hilly terrain – the silence and grace of electric drive is gone, replaced by strained engine groan), handles like shit, it’s production is environmental nightmare and it still gets worse mileage than a small diesel. And only a little better mileage than Volkswagen Jetta 1,2 TSI, which is bigger, cheaper and drives like a proper car…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Dollars per year is all that matters when considering these cars, not mpg.

    Personally, I’m not interested in anything that requires two different fuels.

  • avatar

    remains a house of mirrors whose view of the outside world stops at Eight Mile Road.

    That’s got to be one of the most common cliches “critics” of the domestic automakers make. Hyundai and Toyota both have technical centers within an hour of where I sit in suburban Detroit. VW moved their HQ to NJ but they still have 400-500 people located in SEMI. Tesla has an engineering shop here. Almost every automotive vendor that does business in North America has a factory or engineering office in the Detroit area, including names like Bosch, Denso and others. The idea that Detroiters working in the auto industry are insular is easily disproved by the facts.

    Alex Taylor (the IIIrd) is a senior editor of Fortune magazine. That means he lives in New York City, the most provincial, insular city on the continent.

  • avatar
    OmarCCXR

    Or you could get a diesel.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    The PT Cruiser won COTY? I had no idea.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      The article’s snide remark about the 2001 COTY award going to the PT Cruiser instead of the 2001 Prius is a bit specious and should be taken with a grain of salt. The 2001 Prius was the first generation version which had just been introduced. While it’s turned out to be okay (particularly when compared with the only other hybrid of the time, the Honda Insight), with the brand-new, unknown technology, the PT Cruiser was probably the better (certainly safer) choice at the time.

      The Prius really didn’t come into its own until the vastly improved second generation arrived on the scene in 2004 and, IIRC, that car ‘was’ better than the PT Cruiser and ‘did’ win a lot of awards. In fact, it’s generally accepted that the 2G Prius has been the car of the last decade.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Rudiger,

        By your reasoning, what’s the point of giving the Volt the award? In fact, it breaks no new ground, isn’t particularly attractive and is ridiculously expensive.

        I’d bet a greater percentage of 2001 Priuses are sill on the road than 2001 PT Cruisers.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        Well the Toyota Echo it was based on was such a fabulous car that Toyota is still building them by the tens of thousands to this day, why I can’t wait to buy an Echo and I think…wait a minute, what? The Echo wasn’t that good? They don’t build it anymore?

        Never mind.

      • 0 avatar
        Jellodyne

        The Toyota Echo was based on the Vitz, and the current Vitz is for sale in the US as the Yaris, and they make and sell them by the many thousands. Of course the current Yaris is way less of a miserable shitbox than the Echo was, which is why Toyota deigned to rename it with the latest generation. And there is way more of a consistent family relationship from the Echo to the Yaris than, say, Caviler -> Cobalt -> Cruze.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I can’t really knock the PT Cruiser anymore, I’ve found out its pretty easy to work on.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Chrysler sold well over a million PT Cruisers. So I don’t see it as such a contrast. I bet there are more PT Cruiser car clubs than Prius clubs, but I don’t don’t know for sure. And try finding spare parts and sheet metal for a 1st gen Prius as opposed to any year PT Cruiser.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        The One-Millionth PT Cruiser was built in 2006– a full Four years before the vehicle was given the axe in 2010. Hard production numbers have proven too difficult to find, so I’ll guesstimate there were appx 1.25-1.4M built.

        We’re also talking about a vehicle Chrysler expected to build only 25k examples of– ever. Sounds like a success to me.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    My wife’s RT commute happens to be 13 miles. If I were to ask the Best & Brightest here if they thought it was a good idea to buy her a $33,000 car to do it in, the answer would be a solid NO. This is where the business case for the Volt (and the Leaf, and the PHEV Prius) falls apart: those whose commute makes the car the most appropriate have the least need for the technology, and the longest wait for payback on the investment. We got a heavily discounted Liberty ($16k) that she is happy with, and 17 grand buys a lot of gas.

  • avatar
    Ion

    The enterprise near where I work has atleast 3 Volts. I’ve been meaning to rent one, if it’s less than 50 bucks a week it would be cheaper than running my DD and it would have a working AC.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    What is the Cd of the Prius PHEV?

    GM was trumpeting Volt’s Cd of 0.29, which is laughable for a high-mileage car. 0.19 would be worth trumpeting: hell, the Sonata hybrid is 0.25 ..

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Drag coefficients mean nothing if you don’t know the frontal area of the car(s). Suppose the Volt had a lower frontal area than the Sonata… who’s laughing now?

      I’ve read somewhere that larger cars are easier to streamline because the designers have more sheetmetal to play with. (Unless you cave in to the wind tunnel’s desires and build that ‘ideal’ teardrop-shaped monstrosity.)

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Holden – fact remains there the Cd of the Volt is 16% higher than the Sonata. Since the drag equation is all multiplication, the frontal area would have to be 16% smaller in the Volt than the Sonota for the same amount of drag. We’ll generically take frontal area as height x width of the car.

        Volt: H = 56.5″, W = 70.4″, Frontal Area = 3977.6 in sq
        Sonota: H = 57.9″, W = 72.2″, Frontal Area = 4180.4 in sq

        Volt CdA = 1153 in sq
        Sonata CdA = 1045 in sq

        The % difference is larger in the Cd than the frontal area, thus Cd carries more weight when comparing these 2 cars.

  • avatar
    chrisgreencar

    Volt, Prius Plug-In, Leaf — all these are new ideas that are for early adopters. Of course they don’t make financial sense. I’m happy that there are folks who will be enthusiastic enough to try them. These early versions will pave the way for improved versions in the future, I hope — cheaper, with longer ranges so that the faults of these early models will be irrelevant.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    As dwford mentioned none of these vehicles make economic sense for most drivers (provided gas stays within a couple bucks of where it is now for the next several years, and considering most drivers average around 12K per year or less).

    A lot of hybrid owners are hybrid owners because of the image – they want to be seen as green, or perhaps frugal. One of the Prius’s strengths has been that it’s always been a hybrid-only model. If you see someone in a Prius you instantly know they are driving a hybrid. A hybrid Camry, Fusion, Civic, Escalade, or Highlander, not so much.

    It’s probably a safe bet that a large chunk of early EV buyers will be driven in a large part by image, and this is an area where vehicles like the Volt and Leaf instantly win out. While there might be some subtle visual cues that a Prius is of the PHEV variety, most people will still associate the Prius with being a traditional hybrid, while the Volt, although still technically a hybrid, is considered by many to be pretty much a pure electric vehicle with a gas backup option. For someone wanting the most EV cred, the Volt offers more than any Prius.

    Plus, GM has the potential to increase the capabilities of the Volt over time – better mileage in extended range mode, greater range on pure battery power, etc. The Volt is expensive and impractical for many, but it’s still a great piece of PR for GM. The original Prius wasn’t nearly as livable as the current version when you look back. The Volt being imperfect today doesn’t mean it’s a failure or obsolete, it just means it’s a first generation product. The very existence of the Volt shows that GM is willing to take some risks and push the boundaries of automotive technology. If they keep investing in improving the model over time the gamble may well turn out to be worthwhile on the balance sheet instead of just the court of public opinion.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    No one said there would be math. My head hurts.

    BTW, some of us out there don’t mind paying a reasonable premium for advanced technology, better gas mileage, and lower emissions, even if it’s a wash regarding gas $ saved vrs. the hybrid premium.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      Yeah, I’m kind of sick of the argument that it’s cheaper to get a Cruze. Yeah. Be even cheaper to buy a used car. Be even cheaper to buy a moped. Be even cheaper to live in a cave. So?

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        Your sick of the argument because it guts the position that you’ll save money buying a Prius. You won’t. It costs you more. So what is it reduced to. Turns out Trey and Matt were right, a rolling symbol of look at me I’m saying the planet because I drive a hybrid. Of course all that is said with the eyes closed and a big, “THANKS,” afterwards.

        Shoot, an internal Toyota study revealed that the number one reason that people buy a Prius over a Civic hybrid, or even a Highlander or Camry hybrid (which they have a very hard time selling) is because it screams LOOK AT ME I’M SAVING THE PLANET.

        Last I checked, the Prius still needs hydrocarbons, and a lot of them to go. Want to save the planet? Take a bus.

      • 0 avatar
        car_guy2010

        Either cite this “study” or take your ignorance somewhere else.

        For every Prius owner that shows off, there has to be one that doesn’t.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    You know, I’ve wanted to say this for a long time in regards to the Prius.

    I still don’t understand the petty, almost child-like hatred of the Prius, Prius owners and the concept of hybrid vehicles not only on here, but on multiple car blogs.

    Does someone have an inferiority complex or something?

    I don’t drive a Prius but I do feel sorry for those that do (and don’t show off or anything like that) because they are constantly the butt of jokes on sites like this.

    Whatever happened to drive and let drive?

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Because “car guys” are generally arseholes. The Prius is an easy target much like the nerd in high school. The Prius is a car designed with only practicality and efficiency in mind. Oh yeah, it costs more than a regular car, too. There is nothing “cool” about that. Throw in the fact that a few actors were driving around in them while a MB G-wagen was their other car, and the knuckle dragging car guys found their nerd. To the car guy, anyone who buys a Prius is a pinko, holier than thou hypocrite. The stereotype is set and every time they see a Prius going down the road at the speed limit, keeping their “sporty” Fusion SE* from going 5mph over, they rage. When they see a Prius over the speed limit, they quip “I bet you’re getting great gas mileage speeding, hypocrite!” The stereotype snowballs.

      I find it hilarious that people are so quick to claim that the Prius is only successful because it makes a statement about the driver (saving the planet). Is a Camaro, scooting down the road at the 55mph speed limit, not doing the exact same thing? You’ve purchased a 400hp, 3800lb car that is completely styled to “look cool” (terrible outward visibility, poor interior space) just to sit in traffic or follow pickup trucks down the highway at 55mph? Is it worth it to spend $30k on a car that can go 160mph but you legally can’t get near that? You can get a ticket for accelerating too quickly in a lot of states. Where is the payback on the V8 over the V6? Where is the payback on a Camaro over a Malibu that is more efficient, cheaper, easier to see out of, more comfortable, and fits more stuff?

      *LOL @ anyone that thinks a FWD sedan is anything like a sports car

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        I could never get behind the massive tax credits and special “indulgences” given to hybrid owners by the feds and certain states. If the governments (I mean a combination of the feds and certain states) really wanted to do something about fuel usage, congestion and air quality in their states subsidizing hybrid ownership was not the cure.

        Developing a scrappage program for old highly polluting cars, similar to what became cash for clunkers, only my idea would not have forced the destruction of perfectly good spare parts sources. An incentive program (tax break) when you traded a 15 MPG vehicle for a 25 MPG vehicle, new or used. There would be no penalty for going the other way, in the event a new family needed a new minivan after having more kids, for example.

        I believe something a little more feasible for many more folks would have produced a greater return in a number of areas. It never made sense to me to allow single occupant vehicles in HOV lanes. Subsidizing the purchase of these cars to mostly middle income and upper middle income families, too. These were the kinds of folks who could most likely afford to replace their vehicle, while others continue to slog on with older and dirtier vehicles.

        Having said all of that, I wasn’t too happy when the tax breaks for SUV’s came out either. Another retrograde action, in the opposite direction of the Prius fawning…

        I guess I’m not really mad at the Prius, (and other hybrids), I guess I’m really upset with the regulatory environment around them. I didn’t get any kind of ‘gimme’ when I went from a 15 MPG (city) car to a 25 MPG (city) car. I know the idea was to stimulate the adoption of this technology, but I really think it was handled was completely misguided.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Those complaints fall to the folks that made the law, not the Prius/hybrid buyers. It just seems like a philosophical discussion rather than something that should specifically be about the Prius. That would be like faulting someone for buying a Volt because it loses money for GM, thus driving down profit, and thus reducing the chances the US gov will get their investment back out of GM. I’m not going to fault someone for buying the best car for their needs regardless of how it might have been subsidized by the goverment.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        “I guess I’m really upset with the regulatory environment around them. I didn’t get any kind of ‘gimme’ when I went from a 15 MPG (city) car to a 25 MPG (city) car. I know the idea was to stimulate the adoption of this technology, but I really think it was handled was completely misguided.”

        My friend at work got exactly that – when he turned in a 90’s Tahoe for Cash for Clunkers and bought a 2008 Accord Coupe.

        As a general comment otherwise, any reasonable discussion of these cars almost always devolves into political rants, especially when government (subsidies) are involved. This is counter-productive, as any technology that uses less oil for daily commuting (the lion’s share of consumption) leaves more oil for the 400HP Camaros that some people just HAVE TO HAVE. Fine, call efficiency buffs pious, self-serving idiots, but they may be the reason that we’re not sitting in line at the gas station, waiting for our 10-gallon ration.
        Life and reality is always grey, not the “Good” vs. “Evil”; “Black” vs. “White” rants that seem to appear here at TTAC.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Who on earth still drives 55 mph?!

        For what it’s worth, most of the Priuses I see on the highway are traveling between 75-80 mph.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Non-interstate highways all over the country are still 55mph. If I meant interstate, I’d have said interstate.

      • 0 avatar
        SimonAlberta

        I’ve never really understood exactly what a “sports car” is exactly.

        Back in the old days when I actually used drive “sporty” cars they were often much quicker than “sports cars” especially when they’d been up-gunned somewhat.

        Is an M3 a “sports car” or a “sporty car” because it is bloody fast either way.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @quentin & shaker: car_guy2010 originally asked (paraphrased) why all of the hate? Those were my reasons. But as time has passed and the credits have expired (mostly), I’m finding I’m not so upset.

      I think many other people have used the Prius as a cultural touchstone for what they dislike about the ‘green’ movement (particularly in the US). Witness the South Park episode lampooning the Prius and it’s owners. Realizing they went over the top to get laughs, there’s usually a kernel of truth in satire.

      And, some motorheads are just weenies. No way around that.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      Because the myth of Prius ownership that is desperately clung to by a lot of “car guys” is that Prius owners are all a bunch of eco-friendly, smarmy “greenies” who bought the car exclusively as some kind of environmentalist bragging right. This gives them an excuse to demean the car, even though it’s pretty far from reality.
      90% of Prius buyers are completely normal people (frugal ones, usually) that are trying to save money by buying the most fuel efficient car possible. The debate will continue to rage based on the copious amounts of fuzzy math produced by both sides, surely. My personal belief is that if you keep the car long enough it will probably pay for the price premium, but nobody really knows. It’s all based on the price of gas, which is something that nobody knows the answer to.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    What none of you have put a value on is the “fashion statement” value of the Prius and Volt. A buddy of mine who lives in Los Angeles said to me, pre-Volt, that the Prius has as much status as a Mercedes-Benz S Class. Brain surgeons, captains of industry, Hollywood moguls, shrinking music business titans … doesn’t matter. All can be seen driving a Prius. And here in the Bubble of Certitude known as the NYC metro area, the Volt will outstatus the Prius these days.

    It’s got nothing to do with real math, fake math, journalist math, eco-math, or dollar cost averaging. It’s about status. It’s status frequently wrapped in an eco-weenie message, but it’s status just the same. And there is yet another message in the status was summed recently when I heard a guy say, “My dad has a Volt. We put solar panels on his house and garage to charge it. Yeah, I KNOW we threw away a LOT of money in the project, but that’s less money for bloodoil for the Arab cartel.”

    And that pretty much summed it up. If you’re reading this, you’re more likely to spend a few extra bucks for Koni products instead of Monroe, you might not understand.

    • 0 avatar
      car_guy2010

      Speaking of status, are people who drive gas-guzzling SUVs doing it because of their supposed off-road capability or carrying capacity?

      No, they’re doing it because said vehicles are status symbols.

      Ditto for any muscle car from the 1960s that’s been restored and put back on the road. Is it on the road because it’s comfortable and practical?

      No, it’s on the road because the owner wishes to make a fashion statement.

      We can go many ways with this stereotype.

      The bottom line is that most Americans drive certain vehicles because it’s all about keeping up with the Joneses and looking better than the “other guy”.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Yea but the people in SUVs aren’t claiming to be saving the world either. I have more respect for them because they’re at least honest in their vanity. The whole premise of the hybrid/EV car is flawed.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I forgot that Toyota included an “I’m saving the world, what are you doing?” bumper sticker as standard.

        I’m sure there are some people that feel that way (and likely have a bumper sticker making it clear), but to say that every Prius owner is doing it to feel superior to other people, well, that is ridiculous.

        BTW, I’m a DINK with a 22mpg BOF, 4WD SUV.

      • 0 avatar

        The SUV drivers I know aren’t honest in their vanity. They claim to buy SUVs because they are “safer” or “better in snow”. However tehy are only safer against smaller vehicles, and with the all-season tires most are eqquipped with they are only better at getting you moving in snow, but worse at steering or stopping in it.

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        I don’t drive a Prius. My wife drives a gas-guzzling SUV. We actually take it off-road frequently. I don’t see it as a staus symbol (it’s just a Pathfinder), in fact the gas mileage is troubling, but we required something with true 4WD, so there you have it.

        That being said, I fail to understand the animus directed towards the Prius. I’m a car guy. The Prius and Volt are technological marvels. I respect that immensely.

        I know exactly 3 people with Priuses. Two gen 2s and one gen 3. All of them say basically the same thing when discussing their car: they bought it because it was affordable, reliable, offered midsize room and hatchback versatility and killer mileage. No mention of saved whales or spotted owls. They bought the Prius based on its merits as a car, end of story.

        I’m sure there are folks who see the Prius as a “statement”, but I fail to see how that “statement” is different from those made by Porsche owners, pickup truck owners, etc.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The problem with hybrids & EV cars is, at least from my understanding, there are no benefits.

    Yes, your Prius gets 50MPG. But financially you still lose in the premium you pay for one over a similarly equipped Corolla/Yaris.

    Environmentally it’s no better than a normal car, because of the added energy intensity of the mining + assembly of the batteries.

    And even the Volt still runs on fossil fuel, so our dependency isn’t 100% squashed. Plus it introduces another level of dependency on whoever has the battery materials (which in this case I believe is China, followed by some African countries).

    Not to mention, 100% EV cars in their current level of charge holding are too much for the already overtaxed grids of the urban cities they would do best in. Even if we were to find some new power source the electric grids themselves cannot handle the load of our office buildings AND our cars. So without major reinvestment there that is dead too.

    Not to mention, the prospect of a world in which fossil fuel cars die is frightening to a gearhead like myself. Is it possible to be a fan of something like a Ferrari 458 & a Prius at the same time? I feel like I can’t relate to hybrid enthusiasts.

    And in any case, based on what I know about all the myths of the perceived advantages of hybrids, it seems like their owners and enthusiasts seem to be a collection of people who aren’t good decision makers. You pay a significant premium to save a couple bucks on gas; you buy a car w/a “green” label that’s actually more energy intensive over its usable life than a normal car; clearly you’re more concerned with the image of looking green than actually being green. That’s really the core of my bewilderment with the green car movement… it seems to be based around misinformation and vanity.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      I blame most Prius hatred on the early adopter celebrities who held themselves up as paragons of virtue while their carbon footprints were larger than a small country in Africa. They were and are hypocrites and anger at their hypocrisy has tended to be focused on their choice of the Prius as a symbol of their goodness.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      What I don’t get about gearhead critiques of Prius owners is why it is such a bad thing to be image conscious. For many years now cars have been marketed primarily on image rather than function. Indeed, auto sales would drop off considerably if people only bought cars based upon functionality. So some people prefer a “green” image rather than another kind. So what?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m always interested in anything new, even if I won’t be buying. I hope the Volt is a success. I think the new Honda Insight is much more attractive that the Prius. The Prius – well, grudingly, I accept it and give props to Toyota for sticking with it. The Nissan Leaf? I’m sure it will find its place in the world of transport.

    I don’t care about the bailout(s) and all the political nonsense that gets posted on TTAC. It accomplishes nothing. I still prefer GM products to any other, with Ford a close second and am eagerly keeping an eye on Chrysler, as I desperately want them to survive. Everyone else, I really don’t care about. Sorry, but I’m still an unabashed fan of Detroit and do not apologize for that.

    If all the domestic OEMs fail? Well, I’ll still find something to drive and adapt accordingly.

    Semi-rant for the week is over.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Nocera’s article was on the money.He enjoyed maximizing the EV mileage during his use.
    Careful planning, with simple 110V plug-in capability at work would allow Volt to operate in pure electric mode nearly all of the time. Owners have been reporting 1,000 miles between fill ups of the 9.3 gallon tank, presumably before the tank is completely empty- say 9 gallons= 111MPG.

    Prius plug-in is a gimmick. Volt is the only EV that makes any sense for an only car. Leaf is merely a toy by comparison.

    Notably absent in comparisons between Volt and Prius is the fact that the Volt is a much nicer, better performing car. It can drive circles around a Prius. That ought to be worth something.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      My good Doctor, the Volt is much better looking, too.

      • 0 avatar
        zeus01

        Marilyn Monroe was much better looking than most women too. But would you have wanted to be MARRIED to her??

        The Volt may well prove as dependable as the Prius some day. Here’s hoping, because it would be nice if the recipients of our bail-out tax dollars were to finally build durably-superior cars to the asian competition. But until it does I’ll let the suckers er, more adventurous gamblers spring for them before plunking down any of my own coin for one.

        PS: The volt would be much BETTER looking if GM saw fit to axe that ugly and over-sized bow tie emblem on the too-wide grille bar.

  • avatar
    dlfcohn

    I’ve looked at a Volt as a second car for our family. Its primary mission would be to get me back and forth to work. Our main car is a Mazda 5 minivan. Ooops, multipurpose vehicle, please no flames from the Mazda PR machine.

    The range comparison vs. the soon to arrive PHEV Prius makes sense but in our case the Volt would win as my daily return trip to work is about 20 US miles total. Add in a buffer for a detour to the bank or grocery store plus the loss to efficiency caused by a Great Lakes region winter (we live in the Toronto area) and I would still use little or no gasoline for my daily commute.

    However, any second car I buy has to be able to serve as a back up for our Mazda 5 in case it becomes unavailable. My wife and I have three kids so we need a car with a minimum of five seats (even if they are very cramped ones). Unfortunately, the Volt can only hold four people.

    NO SALE.

    We’re waiting for the Prius PHEV.

    Given the average family size in North America is 2.something kids, I imagine there are a lot of other consumers who have made the same decision.

  • avatar
    detlump

    Perhaps the operation of the Volt is related to the patents that Toyota has on their hybrid system?

    Isn’t possible that GM had to work around those patents to come up with an alternative system? If so they can’t be blamed for that, companies do that all the time. See mobile phones.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The Volt’s big problem is that, compared to the competition, it is a horribly inefficient car once in gasoline powered mode. It will outsell the EV1, but never come close to touching Prius numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Absolutely, but for certain commuters, the Volt’s EV range falls right into the “sweet spot” for minimal/no gasoline usage. I’m sure that most who purchase a Volt (over the upcoming Prius PHEV) will be well aware of this.
      As for me, the Prius PHEV would serve my miniscule commute perfectly, but the economics truly make no sense – unless I think back to the gas rationing during the 70’s oil embargo, and the present instability in the Middle East. When I look at it that way, it starts to make a lot more sense.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’m not interested in either of these cars. Even if I was, I can’t afford them. What I REALLY want to know is, will the forthcoming, smaller Prius c be everything they say it will: more efficient than a Prius, cheaper, and fun to drive.

    If so, I’ll have one.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    One crucial factor that gets overlooked in the debate on these cars is that by buying one, you guarantee yourself a level of stability in your personal energy costs. The price of electricity may rise slowly in adjustment to inflation, but it won’t jump through the same hoops that gasoline has. Nobody on God’s green Earth can tell you what the price of gas will be in 2 years, but you can bet that the cost of electricity will be about the same (adjusted for inflation). If there is another legitimate gas crisis on par with what happened during the 70’s, then you’ve at least insulated yourself from it in a small degree by buying a Volt or another plug-in. You may have to use gas for long trips, but hopefully your daily commute will still be covered by the electric charge.

    Both sides can rightly be accused of using too much fuzzy math in this debate. But imagine being able to ignore the gas-price rollercoaster for all your normal around-town driving. That peace of mind is something that will draw more introspective consumers to these cars.

  • avatar
    redliner

    I hate to throw another wrench into the discussion, but it has been rumored that because the plugin Prius will use more efficient Lithium batteries, it will actually get better fuel economy even in regular hybrid mode. So the efficiency of the plug in Prius might be closer to 60mpg than 50mpg. This is because the batteries and the upsized electric motor provide advantages during regen braking because they can recover more of the braking energy.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Another glorious day @ TTAC.

    People show that the Volt will likely use less gas than a 13 mile range plug in Prius, and the Prius supporters quickly jump to a 10k less figure of an unreleased car.

    Others say that the Prius costs too much when you compare it to a conventional car, which is followed by, people might want to spend more on a car and use less gas.

    Oh the irony.

    If Toyota can produce a plugin Prius @ 3,500 or 5,000 more, it is probably going to be a failure. Read an article about the vehicle on Green Car Reports.

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

    The bottom line is the estimated costs of this is expected to be 3500 to 5000 more than the standard car. They determined that the difference to go 100 miles to be $0.86 cents.

    100 miles = $0.86
    10,000 miles = $86
    100,000 miles = $860

    If the Volt is obsolete as the title article suggests here, what is the Toyota doing developing the plugin Prius? I think this has to do with the markets that the cars are in.

    The United States is far spread out with suburbs that have long commutes. Hence 35-40 mile EV range on the Volt. Japan, much more compact, a 13 mile EV range will probably work for many there.

    But, don’t buy either. Get a good commuter car that will cost several thousand less than either and you won’t be making up the difference over 8 years. Pick your 40 mpg car that is roughly the same size and keep lots of extra $$$ in your pocket.

  • avatar
    FloridaSteve

    I’ll take 13 electric and 55mpg hybrid (and proven Toyota quality) over 35 (we’ll see) electric and and 35 mpg all gas (and questionable GM quality) every time. At the end of the day most of us don’t keep our miles below 35 per day. Most of us take longer… much longer… trips on a regular basis.

    And yes I realize that the window has narrowed a lot over the years between the Japanese and American brands but if I were going to lay down $30K to $35k for a car in this category (and I am strongly considering it) there is no way I go with the GM product. And Certainly not a first generation effort vs a VERY well refined 5th gen effort. Couple that with the possibility that the Toyota may be approaching the 60 mpg range and it’s a no brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      FYI, the Prius is on its 3rd generation and is rated for 51/49mpg. I also don’t know where you think this 60mpg is going to come from. But the jump from 51 mpg to 60 mpg will save you a very small amount of money. But if you are into hypermiling, it might be something for you.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Actually the 1st generation Prius was never imported to the US, so the current car is the 4th generation and the plug-in will be the 5th generation.

      • 0 avatar
        SpinnyD

        @CJinSD, the first gen prious was imported to the US as a 2001 model. It was introduced in Japan for 1997 model year.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius#First_generation_.28XW10.3B_1997.E2.80.932003.29

        The US got the Prius after the Mid-Model refresh which made it better for the US style of driving. Still the same Generation though.

      • 0 avatar
        SpinnyD

        @CJinSD, the first gen Prius was imported to the US as a 2001 model. It was introduced in Japan for 1997 model year.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius#First_generation_.28XW10.3B_1997.E2.80.932003.29

        The US got the Prius after the Mid-Model refresh which made it better for the US style of driving. Still the same Generation though.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Reading car magazines at the time, the US version of the Prius was a huge leap in capability over the model initially released in Japan. Car and Driver called it a second generation model, IIRC, even if it looked about the same. While the body was still dressed up Echo, the drivetrain was massively revised. http://john1701a.com/prius/prius-history.htm

        The Japanese market car of 1997 is the one in the chart labeled Original. The 1st US car is the one called Classic, and the 2nd generation in the US car is the one called Iconic. Look at the technical composition, and you’ll see that the US fastback Prius has far more in common with the earlier US market car than the US market car has with the 1st generation Japanese market car. For this reason, I will continue to consider the 1st generation US Prius to be a 2nd generation model.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        A new drive train doesn’t make a new generation. Yes, there were differences between the model first sold in Japan and the one that was sold in the US. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it was a new generation of the vehicle.

        Besides, the plugin version of this vehicle won’t make a new generation either. It will still be the 3rd generation Prius, but it will have a plug in option.

        Even Toyota calls this the 3rd generation Prius. But, I guess you could call them wrong too.

        http://www.toyota.com/prius-hybrid/photo-gallery.html
        (note the title in the browser bar)

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The Prius Plug-in can go about 13 miles on battery-power alone. But when the battery-only power expires, it switches over to Toyota’s proven hybrid system. That system delivers 51 miles per gallon in the city and 48 mpg on the highway in the standard Prius.

    This sounds like a lot of drama for a distinction without a difference. Theoretically, neither is inherently superior to the other, they’re just somewhat different operating principles.

    I have a different question – why has it taken this long for Toyota to produce a plug-in hybrid? (It’s already late as is.) My guess is that it is because it must be harder than it looks to give it the reliability that it needs to sell in the mass market, and that it hasn’t been ready for prime time. The technology probably places too much demand on the battery, which shortens the life and reduces the effective range/ mileage, which would tarnish the brand.

    I would bet that both the Volt and the Prius have these problems, especially the Volt, since it’s newer and its producer less experienced with such things (and based upon its quality standards, less motivated to care.) I’d happily let others serve as the early guinea pigs…er, adopters for these things.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      @Pch101 :
      “I have a different question – why has it taken this long for Toyota to produce a plug-in hybrid? (It’s already late as is.)”

      Li-ion batteries are required to make PHEV range useful. Toyota was pretty far into their development of the PHEV Prius a few years ago but apparently had setbacks with controlling temperatures and delayed things a bit. the rest of a PHEV isn’t significantly different than a normal HEV, tho one can size the gas engine differently (smaller) if that works into the intended usage pattern.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Chevy volt cost $41,000

    Prius cost $23,000

    $18,000 is a lot of money. I’m doubtful the volt could ever make up the cost difference in fuel economy.

    The volt is a nice idea, but its economy costs too much.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Compare similarly equipped models. While the Volt is still much more expensive, it isn’t 18k.

      Besides, a conventional car that gets 40 mpg highway will be priced several thousand less than a Prius. Both cars cost too much for the return.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    For that matter, Prius’ economy costs too much as well! A Cruze Eco, for example, is $5,000 less, an amount that the Prius requires 9 years to repay based on “fueleconomy.gov” data, less than life of the batteries in Prius. Cruze owners also report 42 MPG to Prius’ 49 MPG,a much lower spread than the combined estimates used for annual fuel cost calculations. Cruze is also larger,better equipped, more refined and better performing than Prius.
    The current Volt is certainly not for everyone, but the price will come down and the range will increase with further development.

  • avatar
    BobAsh

    How is it possible that even on the site like TTAC, there are still people with complete lack of understanding of how the Volt works?

    “The Volt can go about 35 miles in EV mode, but after that it switches over to pure gasoline power – no more battery assist.”

    Can someone tell me, how a car powered by electric engine ALONE can go anywhere without battery assist?

    The problem is probably DIRECT OPPOSITE of what author says – the Prius is more efficient, because it can be powered by gasoline engine directly, while Volt uses it’s gasoline engine only to recharge batteries…

    • 0 avatar
      ghillie

      “Can someone tell me, how a car powered by electric engine ALONE can go anywhere without battery assist?”

      Would that be where the gas engine is programed to produce just enough electricity to provide the power required by the electric motor to drive the car? (I think this is how a diesel electric locomotive works.) I don’t know if the Volt works this way, but it is the answer to your question.

      For the Volt, do you know whether, after the battery is depleted to whatever is the pre-programed point at which the gas engine starts, the gas engine works harder than is necessary to simply drive the car so that there is some recharging of the battery by the gas motor?

      • 0 avatar
        BobAsh

        Well, the electric engine in the Volt has 149hp, while the generator has 74hp. Which means that generator HAS to recharge the battery more than is needed in “real time”, if only to cover the “peaks” in power needed.

        But that’s not the point of battery assistance – as Volt’s worse mileage proves, charging battery to run electric motors is less effective than driving the wheels directly. The point of “battery assistance” is, in fact, the regenerative braking (recharging the battery instead of turning the kinetic energy into heat).

        Which Volt does, too.

        Volt’s problem is TOO MUCH battery assistance!

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Presumably most people looking for a car that can be used in EV mode, at least some of the time, will want one that can be used as an EV as much as possible.

    This makes the Leaf the best choice where range is not an object. Volt is the best choice where range could be a problem. Prius is the worst choice because it’s only an EV for 13 miles.

    I suspect the reason it took Toyota so long to put an extension cord on the Prius is because doing so makes it obvious that Prius isn’t really much of an EV. It may be a very good all around car, but it’s just not much of an EV.

  • avatar
    Elorac

    Can somebody explain to me why the Prius up to this point has used NiMH batteries when the Lithium/Ion batteries are more energy dense, etc? Is it purely for economic reasons, or are NiMH batteries also more reliable, slower to lose storage capacity, etc? With many other Hybrid/EV makers using Li/Ions, I’ve often though that Toyota likely has a very good reason to have stayed with NiMH for this long (and offer an 8 year warranty on it).

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      A few years ago Toyota was saying that lithium ion batteries weren’t ready for automotive applications. This was when the Leaf and Volt were announced already.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    What’s best is when performing recall services on the Prius the owner gets a free charging. :)

    Gas is the way to go unless your trying to make a statement. My GM 2.4 Ecotec with aftermarket turbo can see 42-44 mpg on the highway with 350 horsepower and 400 foot pounds of torque. Best deal going for the efficiency/output ratio per $.

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