86 Miles: Toyota Prius Vs Chevrolet Volt – Which Is The Cheaper Ride?

3 years ago by Jay Cole 51

Over 86.6 Miles Which Is Cheaper?  The Prius On Regular Gas, Or The Volt On Electricity And Gas?

Over 86.6 Miles Which Is Cheaper? The Prius On Regular Gas, Or The Volt On Electricity And Gas?

It’s the classic battle.   The old school “green” hybrid versus the new hotness “PHEV”.

Naturally that means pitting the world’s best selling hybrid – the Toyota Prius again the world’s best selling plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt.

For this challenge there is no obvious winner out of the gate.

The course is not rigged limited to 38 miles – the electric range of the Volt, nor 300 miles (to optimize the Prius’ 50 MPGs on regular gas), but what we would consider a normal executive commute of 86 miles.

And by executive commute, y’know who we are talking about –  the management/yuppie type who makes good money, but in no way would be caught dead living near the HQ that is now in the “city revitalization” district with all the tax breaks.

Interestingly, this video isn’t brought to you by Chevrolet, or Toyota, or a green enthusiast of some nature – but by VIA Motors.   As a couple execs drive side-by-side 86 miles from Salt Lake City to VIA’s homebase in Orem, Utah.

Considering VIA Did This Nifty Video For Us, We Figured Why Not Show Off What Their Truck Can Do?

Considering VIA Did This Nifty Video For Us, We Figured Why Not Show Off What Their Truck Can Do?

Considering the company makes products like the SölTRUX – a 40 mile extended range truck, with 10 mile solar flatbed cover, we had a strong feeling about which vehicle was going to win ahead of time.

We won’t ruin it, but the Toyota Prius used a little over a gallon and a half for a total cost of $5.75 in regular grade fuel.

Hat tip to offib!

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51 responses to "86 Miles: Toyota Prius Vs Chevrolet Volt – Which Is The Cheaper Ride?"

  1. kdawg says:

    I like the cat hanging out in the kitchen sink.

  2. zoe-driver says:

    1.80$ for how much kWh ?

    1. GeorgeS says:

      my 2012 Volt is 10.3. This one is probably 10.8

      1. pjwood says:

        Maybe 12kwh, with at the wall losses.

        1. GeorgeS says:

          Your right.
          So more like $1.30 for the electricity not a dollar

  3. GeorgeS says:

    As an owner of both a Volt and a Prius I think it was a fair comparison. However I’m skeptical that electricity is only 10 cents/kwh in Utah.

    I’ll google it.

    Go Volt!

    1. GeorgeS says:

      10.8 cents/kwh
      4/5 of electricity from coal
      annual CO2 footprint=11.4tons CO2/capita

      1. kdawg says:

        They should also define how much of their oil-life they used and add those costs in.

    2. JRMW says:

      George:
      electricity costs can be a huge deal too.

      Here in MN there’s a law that makes electric utilities sell off peak hour electric at rock bottom rates.

      My utility sells PEAK electricity for 11 to 16.5 cents per kWh, BUT it sells OFF-PEAK electricity for electric cars at 1.92 cents per kWh. (yes, that’s correct, UNDER 2 cents per kWh)

      it’s 1.92 cents in SD as well.
      2.22 cents in ND
      5.4 cents in WI
      and 2.7 cents in MI.

      https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe/Marketing/Files/NSP-Time-of-Day-Info-Sheet.pdf

      1. Bonaire says:

        Co-worker of mine moved to MN a year ago. Loves it. I would love to move there too for a much cheaper lifestyle. Living in the countryside now, I still pay a very large school tax for our district and it isn’t looking good for a cheap lifestyle in the future years.

        Off peak rates of 2 cents in MN makes that state fantastic for EV driving.

        1. william edwards says:

          Don’t forget the power supply adjustment charge… Some utilities charge more for this than the electricity. Apparently they don’t think people can do math…

  4. FranciscoJ says:

    To me, the most important message in this video is that the Volt driver had to avoid plugging in at work to make this a competition at all. He could have plugged in, and burnt ZERO gas on his long commute, day after day after day…

    1. Doug B says:

      Think the point was that for many people the only guaranteed plug in, is at home. This is a great comparison for my wifes route as she has no opportunity to recharge at her work.

      1. william edwards says:

        Exactly! I wonder how many dealers bother to sell Volts using this simple scenerio…even without workplace charging there are a number of ways the price premium for the Volt can be paid back for a lot more people than buy one each month.

    2. ggpa says:

      +1

      On a Volt, even 120V plug in at work is a great benefit if you leave it plugged in all day

  5. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    86 – 38 = 48 miles on gas
    48 / 38 = 1.26 gallons
    86 / 1.26 = 68mpg

    Volt wins, at least in EPA terms.

    Now to watch the video and see if there’s an upset.

  6. David says:

    The Volt has much less interior space and less trunk space than the Prius.

    1. SIvad says:

      The Volt is substantially more powerful than the Prius and if you are one of the 90+% of commuters only uses electricity if your drive is 38 miles or less round trip every day.

    2. SIvad says:

      The Prius has much less interior space and less trunk space than the Escalade.

      1. pete g says:

        So they should buy the Escalade and carpool. 86 miles round trip mostly highway they will use about 4 gallons of gas.

        1. SIvad says:

          I was being sarcastic toward David’s comment that the Prius had more storage and passenger space than the Volt when the point is which is a better commuter car. Most people don’t commute with 5 people and luggage.

          1. pete g says:

            Yes, I understood your sarcasm. I thought it was funny. Also I recently read an article on the Escalade its EPA rated at (17city/21Hwy)mpg. That is a vast improvement from the last Escalade.
            The real beauty of the Volt is it has very few bateries, and uses very little gas. This allows GM to use the same technology on much larger vehicles without having the price spiral up astronomically.

    3. ClarksonCote says:

      When I commute, I don’t need a lot of trunk space.

      And when I travel, I’ve had plenty of room for my Volt. Even with lots of luggage, folding one seat down and leaving the other up for a third passenger is always an option in the Volt too.

    4. kdawg says:

      “Much less”…. that’s an exaggeration. FYI, you can camp/sleep in the back of a Volt w/the seats down. I’ve also hauled 20 bags of mulch in mine among other large loads. Not sure what you require, or what case you can make where a Prius hauled it but the Volt couldn’t.

      1. Taser54 says:

        20 bags of mulch? Just get it delivered. 🙂

        Next you’ll tell us you hauled gravel in your Volt. Or “liquid hot magma”. /Dr. Evil.

    5. koz says:

      There is more headroom in the rear and room for a skinny fifth passenger in the Prius. The additional trunk space is not very usable, high up and in the driver’s line of site. The practical everyday space of the bead square footage is similar.

    6. ModernMarvelFan says:

      Volt also has much better performance, better 0-60mph, better handling, better braking and quieter ride…

      If Volt is better than Prius in everyway, it wouldn’t be a choice anyway, it would have been a domination so anyone who doesn’t buy a Volt over Prius would have been an idiot. Luckily since Volt doesn’t dominate the Prius in everyway, so Prius fans won’t be called idiots… =)

    7. Foo says:

      ???

      I can fit my folding bike in the hatch of the Volt. It does not remotely fit in a Prius.

      1. Justin W. says:

        Having owned both cars and owning a full size folding mountain bike (Montague) I am not sure how you came to such a conclusion. The Prius hatchback has more room and fits anything that will fit in a Volt and more. Did you try to stuff your bike into a GenI trunk?

  7. evnow says:

    And executives care about a few dollars ?

    1. scottf200 says:

      So you are saying Carlos Ghosn doesn’t care if customers save money driving the LEAF?

    2. pjwood says:

      Perhaps less than they care about the “RIDE”.

  8. scottf200 says:

    This would have been a pretty cool test if they did it with a Prius vs a VIA truck. 🙂

    1. GeorgeS says:

      That’s part 2.
      Stay tuned

      1. william edwards says:

        Didn’t one of the person refer to a Spring day…

      2. Rob says:

        I did stay tuned. And then the screen went black…

  9. David Campbell says:

    I charge at working using one of my company’s eight solar-powered charging stations :). It’s a shame that I am the only person of ~2,000 at this location using them. Especially since the power is cost-free and emission-free.

  10. offib says:

    Ah, so that’s what it was! It’s been so long since I shared it, man!

  11. GeorgeS says:

    Yeh but which car had the lowest CO2?

    1. scottf200 says:

      Ask the masses which one they care about! The masses need to ‘buy’ into this. Beside the C02 issue will get better over time and various county to county (ie. even within states).

    2. sven says:

      It depends on the grid. Here is map of the different electrical grids in the US, and MPG ratings that an ICE vehicle would have to achieve to have the equivalent CO2 emissions as an EV.

      http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1086927_coal-makes-electric-cars-bad-no-plug-ins-show-coal-as-worse

      1. SIvad says:

        So in the case of this test which was in Utah the Volt clearly wins. Or if you have PV panels on your roof the Volt always wins.

  12. JRMW says:

    The winner of course is… it depends.

    Do you usually use this as a city commuter under 35 miles round trip? Then the Volt wins hands down.

    Do you commute 40+ miles each way without ability to recharge? (I can’t believe executives have enough time to do a 1 hour each way commute!!!)
    Then the Prius wins

    But both technologies are IMO bridges until BEVs can get more range.
    They’re just placeholders.

    Overall if I were a betting man (I am), the Volt Technology is better than the Prius because the Volt has a better chance of future improvement.

    What’s the likelihood that the Toyota can improve their ICE/hybrid technology to get 80, 100, or 120 mpg? Seems unlikely to me.

    What’s the likelihood that GM can increase the Volt’s range to 80, 100, or 120 miles and then use that piddly ICE engine for the rare times you go > 80, 100, or 120 miles?

    100%
    (exhibit A: the BMW i3).

    What’s the likelihood that a BEV can go 300 miles range making both the above technologies obsolete,used in just a few rare people with very atypical driving habits?

    100% (exhibit A: Tesla)

    What’s the likelihood that Tesla or Nissan can improve BEV range to 200 miles in an AFFORDABLE car?
    Highly Likely.

    So eventually we’ll see more and more BEVs that replace the above, with a Rex vehicles thrown in for heavy commuters.

    Eventually pure ICE will die.
    there will always be hybrids, but they’ll be far less than Rex IMO.

    this will take a long time (decades)
    but the writing is on the wall.

    For now: we’ll just have to use each car for what it does best. BEV for short commutes, Volt for slightly volatile but usually short commutes, Prius for volatile and longer ones, Tesla for the upper upper middle class and rich.

    1. Dan says:

      “Do you commute 40+ miles each way without ability to recharge? (I can’t believe executives have enough time to do a 1 hour each way commute!!!)
      Then the Prius wins”

      In point of fact, their commute was 43 miles each way (and the Volt driver did not recharge at work), and the Volt still won.

      You essentially need to get into triple-digit drives between charges in order for the Prius’ MPG advantage to manifest in actual savings.

      1. Rob says:

        I drive an old 2000 Seat Ibiza 1.9 SD1. I commute ten miles each way and haven’t gotten less than 60mpg for months. I put £30 of diesel in each time. I recently drove 240 miles round trip and as I was only 216 miles into my £30’s worth I topped up with another £30. Averaged over the two £30’s worth, I got 71mpg. All this for a £430 car. For some of us, the fuel savings you get with a hybrid isn’t worth the purchase price of a new hybrid. I am looking into building a small light single seater which is electric powered for commuting and terrorising sports cars… 🙂

  13. shawn marshall says:

    All the carbon in coal is from compressed trees and vegetation. It all came from where?

  14. Thomas J. Thias says:

    Heh, I drive the Amazing Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle because I wanted to have a Mercedes, Cadillac, BMW, or Audi type machine, in ride, quality, safety and performance.

    US News, the number one go to site on the globe for the “Best Ratings” agrees with me.

    The Volt EREV has been rated on the US News Best UpScale Midsized Leader Board since the spring of 2011. 2011MY through 2014MY.

    Currently rated: “Best Cars For The Money Winner” of this entire field and tied overall with the Mercedes Benz CLA-Class!

    This is a dynamic, changing rated field as the over year newer platforms have appeared.

    The Chevy Volt EREV has been as high as 2nd place, spring of 2012, and as low as 13th place, summer of 2013.

    Link Goes To US News Upscale Midsized Car- Leader Board-

    http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/rankings/Upscale-Midsize-Cars/

    Seeing the USA in my Chevrolet, kinda!

    682 MPG! (Heh, Miles Driven Vs Gas Used)

    Link Goes To My OnStar Captured Data Page-

    http://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/1068

    Stunning Cadillac ELR Extended Range Electric Luxury Coupe As Well-

    http://www.voltstats.net/ELR

    Best-

    Thomas J. Thias

    517-749-0532

    Twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

  15. Bill Howland says:

    Yeah, I’d say the Volt won this extended 86 mile commute.

    10.8 cents per kwh is nowadays pretty cheap, but some other areas (mine included) can have Time OF Use service if your monthly usage is over around 800 kwh. So for those with large houses and some solar panels, or for smaller non-frugal houses, Time of Use might make sense even in National Grid areas (both myself and ClarksonCote).

    Since we both have solar panels, we, or at least I don’t need TOU since I don’t use any juice anyway since I have so many solar panels.

    I’m getting my Roadster fixed tommorrow supposedly, and then I have to decide if I’m trading it in for a new ELR. The dealer’s giving me $55,000 on my old roadster.

    1. Taser54 says:

      Interesting. Perhaps you should wait a little longer? See if the 2015 ELR has some of the Volt 2.0 improvements.

  16. suresh says:

    where is the prius vs via part 2?