Michigan Man Sues Toyota Over Prius Plug-in's Awful Range

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
michigan man sues toyota over prius plug in s awful range

The short-lived Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid was never a popular vehicle, and the subject of one man’s lawsuit could answer why.

A suit filed against Toyota in an eastern Michigan court claims the plaintiff’s 2012 Prius Plug-in didn’t come close to offering the meager advertised range of the upgraded hybrid, CarComplaints reports.

In its advertising, Toyota claimed the model (built from 2012 to 2015) was good for 13 miles of all-electric driving, after which the vehicle switched to normal hybrid operation. Richard Rosenbaum claims his Prius Plug-in only achieved eight miles of range, and that number sometimes fell to three miles, even with an all-night charge.

Rosenbaum said bought the car to commute 12 miles, and hadn’t expected to use gasoline during the trip. In May of 2015, he took his vehicle to the dealer to address the low range.

According to CarComplaints, “Rosenbaum says a test was conducted and after the test the Prius started getting 10 miles on a single charge, causing the plaintiff to believe Toyota did something to alter the car.”

The automaker denies it did anything to alter the vehicle. However, Rosenbaum’s beef with Toyota goes deeper than just warm-weather range. He claims the automaker never told him the vehicle would burn gas continuously during the winter. Below 55 degrees, the Prius Plug-in operates solely as a hybrid, using the gasoline engine to provide warm coolant for the heater.

Rosenbaum never saw the gasoline savings he had hoped for. His suit alleges the automaker violated Michigan consumer protection and breach of warranty laws, as well as breach of contract violations.

In 2014, the plug-in model’s best sales year, Toyota sold 13,263 Prius Plug-ins to the regular Prius’ 122,776. The model is set to return as the 2017 Prius Prime, offering 22 miles of all-electric range, though the automaker recently pushed back the launch date.

[Image: Toyota]

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  • Keith_93 Keith_93 on Aug 07, 2016

    I usually roll my eyes at these type of lawsuits, but this guy has a point. If this car's range is consistently off by more than a third, that is way beyond "YMMV." That would be like buying a car that claimed 30mpg highway, and actually getting 18mpg highway.

    • See 2 previous
    • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Aug 08, 2016

      @mcs Yes, and not to mention trying to avoid braking to begin with. Regen + electrical boost suffers conversion losses (which is why maximizing ev mode can actually reduce mileage if overdone). And the rear brakes are applied lightly during regen using the brake pedal, which is all lost energy since regen is done with the front wheels only. Regen by downshifting suffers losses fron higher rpm's, but this wastes less energy than the rear brakes. So downshifting is preferable to braking, which is why newer hybrids start regen braking as soon as you lift off the gas.

  • SunnyvaleCA SunnyvaleCA on Aug 08, 2016

    Isn't the entire point of the plug-in Prius to get the solo carpool lane use in California? Think about it. You save about $0.60 by plugging it in.

  • Not Previous Used Car of the Day entries that spent decades in the weeds would still be a better purchase than this car. The sucker who takes on this depreciated machine will learn the hard way that a cheap German car is actually a very expensive way to drive around.
  • Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
  • Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.
  • Sgeffe There's someone around where I live who has a recent WRX-STi, but the few times I've been behind this guy, he's always driving right at the underposted arbitrary numbers that some politician pulled out of their backside and slapped on a sign! With no gendarmes or schoolkids present! Haven't been behind this driver on the freeway, but my guess is that he does the left lane police thing with the best of 'em!What's the point of buying such a vehicle if you're never going to exceed a speed limit? (And I've pondered that whilst in line in the left lane at 63mph behind a couple of Accord V6s, as well as an AMG E-Klasse!)