Like it or hate it, The Plug-In Prius Prime Is The 3rd Most Important Plug-In

1 year ago by David Murray 119

Toyota Prius Prime On NY Auto Show Floor (InsideEVs/Tom M)

Toyota Prius Prime On NY Auto Show Floor (InsideEVs/Tom M)

From the original announcement of the 4th generation Prius, the plug-in version has been a mystery to me.  Why was the plug-in version not released at the same time?  Why the delay? The original Plug-in Prius has been out of stock for quite some time (production ended June 2015).  The RAV-4 EV was discontinued.  Toyota was no longer selling any car with a plug on it. Did they just not care about plug-in cars anymore due to their infatuation with hydrogen fuel cells?

Toyota Took The Wraps Off The 2017 Prius Prime Wednesday In New York

Toyota Took The Wraps Off The 2017 Prius Prime Wednesday In New York

Well, I watched Toyota’s live stream Wednesday morning as they unveiled the 2017 Prius Prime plug-in from the New York Auto Show.

Many things caught me by surprise.  The first thing I noticed was the sheer fact that they changed the name from Prius PHV (or Prius Plug-in) to Prius Prime.  I kept asking myself, “why did they do that?”

Then I began to see how very different this car is from the regular Prius 4th generation hybrid.  As I watched them unveil the huge Tesla-like touch screen and talk about the car’s features I realized that this was going to be big.

Toyota Prius Prime - 11.6-inch Multimedia HD Display

Toyota Prius Prime – 11.6-inch Multimedia HD Display

2017 Toyota Prius Plug-In - Not Only Gets Its Own Name, But Distinctive Styling

2017 Toyota Prius Plug-In – Not Only Gets Its Own Name, But Its Own Styling

Now, this won’t be obvious to many EV enthusiasts, especially based on the comments I read on many websites, most of which were poking fun at the EV range of 22 miles.  And let’s not beat around the bush.  I agree with most of those comments.  I drive a 2013 Volt which should be behind the times, by comparison, and yet I get 16 miles more range than that.

But I’m an EV enthusiast and I am very familiar with all of the EV cars out there. And while I wouldn’t buy this car for myself, I can still see the bigger picture and realize why this car is going to be big.

To understand why, we can start by looking at the previous generation of Prius Plug-in.  Yes, it had an abysmal 11 miles EV range.  Many people would often (incorrectly) cite the 6 mile range listed by the EPA due to their testing method and the inability of the old Prius Plug-in to lock out the gas engine when accelerating hard.

First Generation Toyota Prius PHV

First Generation Toyota Prius PHV

That vehicle was only available in CARB states and was indistinguishable from the regular Prius hybrid to all but the trained eye.  It was very much a “compliance car” for CARB.  Yet, despite all of that, it often out-sold many of the more capable plug-in hybrids and was almost always somewhere in the top 4 sellers of EVs. In fact, it ranked in as number 4 best-selling plug-in for 2014. (all-time monthly/yearly plug-in sales charts for US can be found here)

2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers, *Tesla Full year Model S Results Verified

2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Top 5 Plug-In Sold In The United States (*Tesla Full year Model S Results Verified)

I haven’t seen any hard evidence, but instinct tells me the reason they sold so well despite their poor performance came from two major advantages.

The Badge And Accumulated "Green Cred" Mean Something To The Wider Market

The Badge And Accumulated “Green Cred” Mean Something To The Wider Market

The first is that it carried the Toyota Prius name badge, which has earned itself a fantastic reputation over the last 15 years or so. People associate Toyota with quality hybrid products.  General Motors, on the other hand?  Not so much.

The second advantage is that it was easy to convert regular Prius buyers to Plug-In buyers at the dealership level. The regular Prius already sells by the millions. After all, there was virtually no downside to getting the Plug-in over the standard hybrid.  There was no lost cargo area, like Ford’s products.  With the tax credit, it ended up being about the same price as a well-equipped regular Prius.  Even if people never plugged it in, there wasn’t much to lose. From a manufacturing standpoint, the original Prius Plug-in shared almost every component with the standard hybrid.  It was basically designed to be as cost-efficient as possible for a low-production vehicle.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime From NY Debut (InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

2017 Toyota Prius Prime From NY Debut (InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

So let’s go back to the new Prius Prime. So forgetting about the un-competitive 22 miles of EV range for the moment, let’s talk about what makes it really special.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime From Above

2017 Toyota Prius Prime From Above

First of all, the reason for the delay is now obvious.  The car is very different from the regular hybrid model.  It is it’s own car. While it does share some parts with the regular hybrid, both the interior and exterior are very different.  Toyota wouldn’t have spent the R&D money to develop this vehicle as a separate car unless they planned to sell a lot of them.  That would also explain the new name.  This, again, distinguishes it from the regular Prius hybrid.  And to top it off, they have already said it would be available in all 50 states from day 1 (which come around November of this year).  So it is no longer a compliance car

So what is my prediction?  This car is guaranteed to sell better than the last Plug-in Prius.  If Toyota took General Motors’ approach to selling the Volt, and just shipped this car to their dealers and didn’t bother to advertise it, they would probably still easily sell 2,000 units per month.  That would beat out most EV and PHEVs on the market.  But, I don’t think Toyota is going to take that approach.  Like I said, I don’t think they would have developed this car like they have unless they planned to make it worth their while.

I suspect Toyota will actually try to sell this car.  So my prediction is that it will sell 3,000 to 5,000 units per month.  So until the Tesla Model-III comes out, the Prius Prime may end up being the #1 selling plug-in on the market.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

22 Miles Of Range And Slower L2 Charging Won't Hinder The Prius Prime's Success On The Market

22 Miles Of Range And Slower L2 Charging Won’t Hinder The Prius Prime’s Success On The Market

And while it may not be the most competitive vehicle on the market from a perspective of EV range, it will likely be less expensive than most of the competitors. It has more range than Ford’s Energi cars, and many other PHEVs that have less than 20 miles of range.

Flooding the market with a mediocre PHEV is not a bad thing.  Just like Tesla has helped raise awareness of all-electric vehicles, the Prius Prime will likely do the same for PHEVs.  It isn’t likely to steal any sales away from the Volt, Leaf, Tesla, or BMW i3. It might steal a few from the C-Max energi, which is doomed anyway.

For the most part it will simply increase overall sales for the plug-in market.  That’s a good thing.  And since the range is mediocre, people will want to charge them at work and in public.  That will help create new demand for level-2 charging stations.  And, of course, the people who buy these cars will get a taste of the EV experience.  When it is time to get their next car, they’ll want more range.  They may upgrade to a full electric or a better PHEV, again boosting the whole market.

Toyota Prius Prime At New York Auto Show Debut (InsideEVs/Tom M)

Toyota Prius Prime At New York Auto Show Debut (InsideEVs/Tom M)

So even though I don’t want one of these cars for myself, I am very excited about what this car is going to do for the industry.  Toyota may yet redeem itself for it’s hydrogen nonsense, but the Prius Prime may be the 3rd most important plug-in, right under the Chevy Bolt EV and the Tesla Model III.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

119 responses to "Like it or hate it, The Plug-In Prius Prime Is The 3rd Most Important Plug-In"

  1. Djoni says:

    Totally nail it.

    Even, has you said, this car have no interest from my part, it will convert much more people to electric than most think.

    1. Alpha777 says:

      Totally Missed the Target.
      Anyone, even a Toyota buyer, will actually look at 20 mile range, when you’ll be about to get 120-200?

      Not a chance.
      These spec’s were great in 2007.

      1. David Murray says:

        Remember, you aren’t the primary audience for this vehicle. What you think about it isn’t going to matter. Let’s just wait until the vehicle is fully stocked on dealer lots and then we’ll see who is right.

        1. GB says:

          Good Article. A mainstream, high quality Toyota PHV at a competitive price, with a 600 Mile range. Prime Indeed. Thanks.

          1. HeisenberghtNUTS says:

            And a prime article! Thanks David! I feel kind of relief that Toyota did not end up being lost on the hydrogen highway.

            Prime is prime!

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Alpha777 said:

        “Totally Missed the Target.
        Anyone, even a Toyota buyer, will actually look at 20 mile range, when you’ll be about to get 120-200?”

        You’re comparing BEV range to PHEV range, which is somewhat an apples-to-oranges comparison. A better comparison would be to the Volt’s electric range.

        A lot of people — especially those outside North America — won’t even look at a GM badged car. Toyota, despite some infamous not-so-long-ago problems, has a longtime reputation for reliability. And how many will the Prime seat? A lot of would-be Volt buyers complain that even the new Volt won’t seat 5 full-sized adults.

        Yeah, a lot of people will be buying this car.

        I certainly agree with author David Murray: This car, even with its mediocre electric range, still has a better range than a lot of PHEVs currently on the market. And kudos to Toyota for giving the Prime a distinctive look, even if they did shoot themselves in the foot by mimicking the front-end design eyesore of the Mirai.

        On the downside: Despite a lot of doodads and a big, Tesla-like display screen, Toyota is still lagging far behind GM on PHEV tech.

        C’mon, Toyota. Don’t be like Blackberry, resting on your laurels even after the iPhone arrived. Blackberry lost almost all its market, and the same could happen to you if you keep dragging your feet. You waded into the EV revolution with the Prius long ago, but you stopped in the shallow end of the pool. It’s far past time to jump into the deep end. If not, you’ll be left far behind.

        And that “fool cell” car? Fuggedaboutit.

      3. Dragon says:

        I got on a waiting list to buy the original 2004 Prius and got one of the earliest produced. It had a few minor problems they fixed under warranty, and I had to replace the coolant pump myself. Other than that, it’s still driving 12 years later in the hands of a new owner.

        I now loathe Toyota and their fuel-cell delay tactics, BEV foot dragging, ALEC supporting, and increased-CAFE-standards-fighting ways. However, Toyota’s reliability and brand name recognition is still legendary and they have a huge following. Even with its crappy specs, Prius Prime will sell to a ton of people who are creatures of habit and have come to trust the brand name and reliability.

        1. Goodbyegascar says:

          Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth, and Mercury had loyal followings, too.

          1. Jeff Songster says:

            This car is a giant snooze. Looking forward to really cool 100% electrics. Bury the past. ICE and Hybrids… even plug ins. Build out the infrastructure for charging… eliminate big oil ASAP and end idiotic foreign entanglements over oil.

        2. storky says:

          I waited 5 months for my 2001 Prius, that I am still driving today.

          My employer uses 100% wind energy and has four vehicle charging stations of which only two are used regularly. I look forward to occupying a charging spot next year.

          My 6’5″ frame is not well accommodated by most GM products. The Bolt is intriguing, but the Prius, through all generations, has always been comfortable and reliable.

          The Prius Prime begs me to try the new generation.

          1. Proton says:

            Interesting. My best friend is 6’7″ and could not fit in my former ’13 Prius driver’s seat, but fits easily in my ’15 Volt driver’s seat, AND, in the ’17 Volt he tried out last week!

      4. Jeff Songster says:

        Completely agree… ancient idea… on par with a more refined fusion/c-max plug in hybrid which is not a bad car… but no real news. This new Toyota will also not sell as well as previous models simply because it lost a seat and whole lot of headroom in the back seat. Much less useful than the previous model as a taxi or family hauler. Iffy design choices go beyond the ultra modern, hyper dramatic and aerodynamic exterior. My prediction… not an important car… except to websites that sell lots of ads to Toyota.

    2. CarGuy says:

      The #1 reason the last plug-in Prius sold so well was because it met the bare minimum battery size to get a tax credit as well as most importantly qualified for a sticker so just a driver could drive in the carpool lanes in California. Most plug-in Prius owners never plug in but reap the huge benefit of driving right by stopped traffic. Unless California issues more stickers for plug-in hybrid vehicles, I don’t see huge sales.

  2. pjwood1 says:

    Bullseye, David. Nice review. Prius buyers reflexively buy another one, and with distribution, 5,000/mnth won’t be a surprise. Also, hasn’t Toyota barely eaten into its ~250,000 federal tax-credits?

  3. Thanks Mr Murray for this article.
    I have been a proud owner of first generation 2003 Prius, my wife has been really satisfied by her both Gen 2 2005 and Gen 3 2010 Prius. She had purchased a Volt 2012, replaced by a Volt 2015…
    I would go back anytime to Toyota cars such as Prius Prime for one main reason : reliability!

  4. Pete Repete says:

    ..well said!! I don’t want the car either but I certainly won’t begrudge anybody who does. Good for the cause!

    1. GB says:

      Good point Pete. Let’s let the Market decide. Many options for many buyers is a good thing. Enjoy the variety!

  5. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    It could sell well _but_ this time things are different:
    – Only 4 seats: lost a differentiator
    – The Volt Gen 2 has much better ratings and with the Bolt, GM will have 3 cars to attract buyers looking for efficiency (Volt, Bolt, Malibu Hybrid)
    – Hyundai Ioniq: if what Hyundai said at the NY show holds up, it’s going to compete directly against the Prius and take sales.
    – Price: we still don’t have that information. It’ll be very important.

    Yes, it’s clearly improved from the previous version, and if it weren’t for the 4 seats and the arrival of the Ioniq I’d be more positive about it. I just hope that the price is good enough that they get a lot of conversion from the liftback amongst the people who blindly opt for a Prius.

    1. Brian says:

      I didn’t even know the prime only has 4 seats?! Stupid. GM and Toyota really don’t want to make EV cars 100% do they.

      1. sven says:

        If anyone is interested as to why the Prius Prime only has four seats, AutoNews gives a surprising, if not head-scratching reason as to why Toyota chose to go with four seats.

        “Curiously, the Prime is a four-seater. This is because when Toyota engineers test efficiency against their own internal benchmarks, they fill every seat in that particular vehicle. Five people in the car ate into the Prime’s efficiency too much to hit Toyota’s goals.”

        http://www.autonews.com/article/20160323/OEM04/303239954/toyota-looks-to-boost-prius-with-all-new-plug-in-prime

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Random thing on this to add after talking to some people specific to the efficiency goals. As the Prius Prime is close to a structure reinforcement benchmark at weight …

          ie) if they had a fifth seat, then the estimated cargo/passenger load would have tipped so that the structure would have had to be significantly altered

          …as such, even without the passenger, the car itself with 5 available seats would have gained ~200+ lbs of weight with the mods, regardless if someone was sitting in there or not.

          Specific to your quote sven, if Toyota made it a seat, they would have risked going under the 50 MPG extended range petrol number they look to hit (no numbers have yet been released, but it is expected/hinted at ~51-53). So instead of a seat, they just put the inverter/charger in the back. Not commenting at all on whether or not the trade-off was worth it or not, just saying that is why…it is, what it is.

          /random info no one cares about, lol

          1. Rich says:

            It’ll be interesting to see what the crash test ratings end up being. Sounds like Toyota made some sketchy decisions around structural integrity.

          2. sven says:

            Thanks for the info Jay.

    2. Philip d says:

      I would bet that the Prius Prime base model will be more expensive than everyone thinks.

      They have stated that it will come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense P package. That’s sounds great but it also means they aren’t giving it away for free and will push the base price up. It will also cost more for leather interior and that big screen they showed off.

      It will qualify for a $4500 fed tax incentive which means it would still need to be priced $3000 less than a Volt Premier to be the same price in the end with similar options since the Volt gets the full $7500. So if it would need to be priced around $34,500 to cost the same.

      Now that the new Volt has 53 ev miles, much better performance, and 4.5 seats the Prime really needs to come in at least a couple thousand less after tax incentive compared to a Volt Premium which means $32,000.

      With the advantage of Prius branding if they price it in the $30-32k price range they will sell well.

      1. sven says:

        Philip d said:
        “They have stated that it will come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense P package. That’s sounds great but it also means they aren’t giving it away for free and will push the base price up.”

        Toyota said that it new Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which is also Toyota’s new production system, will significantly lower both parts costs and production costs, and Toyota will use the savings to include more features and technology in its cars. The new Prius and Prius Prime are the first cars build under the TNGA.

        Toyota recently announced that it was making Safety Sense standard on almost all it’s models/trim levels by end of 2017. It’s also not that expensive, as last year it was only a $417 option on a lower trim level Toyota Corolla, and standard of higher trim level Corollas.

        http://www.greencarcongress.com/2016/03/20160321-aebtoyota.html

        http://dailykanban.com/2015/03/toyota-delivers-tesla-like-tech-package-software-110-price-nobody-blinks-eye/

  6. Andrew says:

    If you step back a bit and look at the amount of progress in just three model years it’s kind of startling.

    100%+ more EV range (11 blended to 22 pure)
    35% faster top EV speed (62 MPH to 84 MPH)
    58% greater EV mode power (60kW to 95kW)
    50% faster charging (2.2 kW to 3.3 kW)
    300% more efficient heating (heat pump)
    500% more availability (50 state sales)
    Lower price.

    Things are moving along quite quickly in this space now. This is not an incremental update, even if it doesn’t have Volt EV range.

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      I don’t know if that’s a valid way to compare.

      Yes, the improvement from 1 gen to the next is good, but that’s because neither design really tries to fully utilize what’s available from a technology standpoint. That’s why even the second gen Prius doesn’t beat the first gen Volt in EV range, etc.

      In other words, both model Prius plug-ins were obsolete before they were ever introduced to market.

      1. Just like the Gen 2 Volt’s battery down the middle design is obsolete. It was obsolete in the Gen 1 already. And let’s be honest here, both generations of the Volt only seat 4.

        1. Spider-Dan says:

          I don’t see how you can call the Volt’s T-battery “obsolete” when the competition is as follows…

          i3 Rex: still 4-seater
          Prius Prime: still 4-seater (and much smaller range)
          Ford Energis: severely reduced cargo room (and much smaller range)
          Plug-in Prius: miniscule range

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Yeah, I think “non-competitive” would be a better description than “obsolete”.

            The intrusion of the Volt’s T-shaped battery into the passenger compartment doesn’t make the car obsolete. Neither will the Prius Prime’s 22-mile electric range make it obsolete.

            But those attributes help neither car in making them competitive against other PEVs on the market today. We can be sure that future generations of the Prime, if there are any, will increase the electric range. And GM has already moved to the “skateboard” design with the Bolt. We can be pretty sure that future PEV designs from GM won’t use a battery pack which, like the Volt’s, intrudes into the passenger space.

            1. Spider-Dan says:

              I don’t think the skateboard design is compatible with a PHEV that has a parallel-hybrid mode. The only PHEV with a skateboard battery is the i3 REx, which is (not coincidentally) almost dangerously underpowered when running on gas. (And, for some bizarre reason, is STILL a 4-seater.)

              Every other PHEV, including the PP, uses some sort of non-skateboard package. So I think the battery form factor is not so much an issue of being “non-competitive” as it is “picking your priority”:

              – Ford Energis sacrifice lots of cargo space – i3 REx sacrifices both a 5th seat and performance under gas
              – Prime sacrifices a seat
              – Volt sacrifices ~1/2 a seat

              1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                Well, now that you’ve pointed that out, I guess I was mis-using the term “skateboard”. I guess that if a car has an ICEngine underneath the hood, it can’t have an actual skateboard design.

                What I meant was a battery pack that’s a flat layer under the floor of the passenger cabin. Even if the car has to have a driveshaft running from front to back, I think it could still have that design. The GM Bolt has something that looks suspiciously like a front-to-back (or back-to-front?) driveshaft in this see-through render, yet it still has a flat battery pack under the floor:

                http://insideevs.com/chevrolet-bolt-ev-specs-revealed-60-kwh-0-60-in-less-than-7-seconds/

                1. ziv says:

                  Pushmi, I don’t think that is a driveshaft-like object. 😉
                  It looks like a coolant tubing cover plate or something.
                  How is that for a precise description of a nondescript object?

                2. sven says:

                  The Bolt is confirmed to be front wheel drive.

      2. R.S. says:

        Comparing an EV/PHEV, only by range isn’t the right way to look at it. Its pretty easy to get to more range, put in a bigger battery. But its also easy to predict the outcome of it, its going to be more expensive. Of course in an EV range is somewhat king… until you reach a certain amount of range. How much more would you pay to go from 500 miles of range to 1,000 miles? I guess not as much as going from 100 to 200. In a PHEV you have the same issue, what good is a 400 mile PHEV?

        What I want to say is, that the Prius Prime could be a nice car, if its cheap. The Volt is still an expensive car and without incentives it could not compete with regular cars. If the additional price of the Prime is low enough to attract a quarter of the regular Prius drivers, then this car could be huge.

        1. ClarksonCote says:

          With tax credits, the first Gen Volt was effectively the same price to buy as the first Gen Prius plug-in, with over triple the all electric range, and without the need to feather the accelerator, limit top speed, or run without heat.

          I expect the Gen 2 Volt will also be cost-competitive with the Prius Prime, and it maintains the range advantage, and now has an additional seat.

          I would bet the Prime will still have a bit more cargo space. I haven’t had a chance to look at the detailed specs yet.

        2. ClarksonCote says:

          “What I want to say is, that the Prius Prime could be a nice car, if its cheap. The Volt is still an expensive car and without incentives it could not compete with regular cars.”

          I think there is a bit of bias in there. The Gen 1 Prius was the same cost as the Volt after incentives were factored in on both vehicles.

          I would argue the Volt is closer to competing with regular cars than the Prius, given the electric range they have and the performance capability. But admittedly, that is also an opinion that can only be confirmed in hindsight. Time will tell!

          Either way, I do love how many plug-ins we have available now. While I personally feel the Volt is superior today for many reasons, having more and more cars with a plug on the market is a great thing.

      3. Andrew says:

        Toyota sold nearly 50k of the old one, and the old one had piddly electric capabilities.

        This new car has a very good chance of hitting a huge swath of the market and moving a lot of people into their first plug-in car in a way that GM still hasn’t figured out how to do with the arguably (mechanically) superior Volt.

        The Prius is a known quantity to shoppers. Reliable car, reliable brand, reliable resale value, reliable insurance rates, it goes on and on.

        Throwing more capability onto an existing product for a little more money is potentially an easier sell than going from one’s third Prius to their first Chevy.

        1. fotomoto says:

          The original PIP was also one of the cheapest ways
          (without range limitations) to get HOV stickers.

  7. Anon says:

    Such lipstick. Much squealing.

    1. Tom says:

      Plus one…

  8. Mikael says:

    Insignificant and irrelevant. Third most important? •lol•

    The Prius Prime is just one in a bunch of as good or better PHEVs. Toyota needs to do a lot more and better to get rid of their non-green label that they have earned during the last few years.

    The positive part is that every plugin counts even if it’s little and late.

    1. Nick says:

      You don’t think they will sell 1000s a month?

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Not without Carpool Sticker…

        Unless they price it less than regular Prius after rebates, unlikely…

        1. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

          Yeah, it’s pretty amazing that the article and the comments so far haven’t mentioned the HOV sticker. The *only* reason the Prius PHV sold so well was that the large majority of sales were in CA and, with tax credits, it was basically buying a Prius but one that could get an HOV sticker.

          If you haven’t spent significant time in the LA or SF bay areas you don’t realize that HOV stickers are like gold due to the traffic backups – people do make car choices based on them. When I was working at a customer site last summer in northern CA there were many plug-in Prii in the parking lots and NONE of them were ever actually plugged in at the various charging stations. Being CA, they had all kinds of other EVs at the charging stations, but never a PIP. You’d almost think that the buyers of those never actually plugged them in ….

          1. wavelet says:

            You know, as important as CA is in terms of early-adoption for most tech, and certainly in terms of leading low-emissions development — it’s still not the entire US market, and certainly not the entire global market — for Toyota or others.

            North America (and that includes Canada & Mexico) are about a thirs of Toyota’s global sales.
            Since this isn’t a compliance car, and Toyota is a globally-known and respected brand, rightly or wrongly (unlike Tesla or GM), the HOV issues don’t matter as much as you think.

            http://www.toyota-global.com/company/profile/figures/vehicle_production_sales_and_exports_by_region.html

    2. SparkEV says:

      It’s significant and important. With practically useless range, this will let people think they’re entitled to park in EV charging spots (rather than charge), preventing others from charging.

      Few times I’ve been ICED (them not plugged in), they were mostly Tesla S, PiP, Volt. I suspect they don’t need to charge, so they don’t and instead use charging spot as parking spot.

      1. sven says:

        Was it an even distribution among the three cars, or was there a clear 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for the ICEings?

        1. SparkEV says:

          Tesla S worst offender, PiP and Volt tied. But sample size is very small. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen PiP charging at public charger while I’ve seen S using Chademo and Volt using L2. If you take that into account, PiP is worst.

          1. Plugger says:

            Worst example I’ve seen – one EV charging station in Philadelphia is marked “hybrid parking only”! Yes, I’ve been iced by a non plug in hybrid Yukon at this station. (Franklin Institute fwiw)

          2. sven says:

            Thanks for the response SparkEV.

  9. Having bought a used 2004 Prius in October 2012, with the primary plan to support one of my EV FEST exhibitors that offered a after market Plug In battery pack system, and who had supported the show since 2010, only to discover they had stopped sellig their product at about the time I bought the car, I drove it about 30,000 Kms prior to selling it to a co-worker last February (who, by the way, loves it, and would likely never had bought a hybrid if not for me!). I have driven it to Key West in 2014, and discovered it could (for me, dring alone back to Toronto from Oshkosh, Wisconsin) as low as 4.5 L/100 Km, and on the Florida trip, averaging 5.2 L/100 Km, I drove 700 Kms before the “Get Gas” message popped up, and pushed it right to quitting to see another 70 Km, before it died (about 5 Km short of the next exit and gas station!), so 770 Kms to empty.

    Driving this Prius Prime, if driven first in Hybrid Mode, and saving the EV Mode to the last, would allow (if they designed the cars controls right) to have 22 miles of ‘EV Emergency Range’ (like the little ‘Reserve’ valve on a old Motorcycle!)) left to drive it to a gas station, like my wife suggested I do (but could not) with our 2004 Prius!

    So this could be marketed two ways, “The car with all EV Mode for the Short Range Commuter”, and “A hybrid you can run out of gas with, but not be Stranded, or Waiting for CAA/AAA to bring you a gallon of gas”

    Either way, it fits with Toyota’s general ideas of more cars with less EV range, is a better use, at present, for a given volume (Total kWh) of batteries, than more EV range for fewer cars!

    So if they can get ennough of these made so they can sell even just 100 a month in each of the 50 States (5,000 / mo overall in USA), they will be giving out ‘EV Gateway Drugs’ to a lot of people who, within 3-5 years will want MORE EV Range, so they better be preparing now for a much higher EV Range PHEV variant (maybe 60+ miles EV Range), or a full-on BEV with some 150 – 225+ miles EV Range, by 2020-2022!

    In between that, they will need to decide if they want to be more like Tesla, who they invested in, and help build the EV Market by selling them their old NUMI Plant too, and create a plan to build EV Charging Infrastructure, or more like GM, their old commpetitor, and do nothing for the EV Infrastructure for public access!

    If they go with the idea like a Tesla model of Infrastructure Investment for BEV’s, yhey will yhen have to decide if they will go it on their own, and install CHAdeMO units, which they were a founding member of, or with CCS for America and CHAdeMO only in Japan, or if they will partner with Tesla, and help them further expand the Supercharge Network! (And maybe – the [Tesla] Destination Charging Network, too!)

    What no automaker has yet done too, and that is something both Nissan and Mitsubishi could lead in (since both LEAF an iMiEV have J1772 and CHAdeMO ports), is to biild a car that has J1772+CCS in one port, PLUS CHAdeMO in the other port! No external adapters needed, Tesla Style, and all stations installed short of Tesla’s,could be accessed! Then, if they were creative, and maybe a nit humble, they could work with Tesla, to build an adapter for goving access to Tesla Destination Charging stations to their cars, on a path to (in future products) extend acces to Tesla Superchargers!

  10. Blastphemy says:

    “I haven’t seen any hard evidence, but instinct tells me the reason they sold so well despite their poor performance came from two major advantages.”

    The reason it sold so well in California was because it was eligible for Carpool (HOV) Lane green stickers. Which, frankly, was a complete joke due to its crappy EV range and inability to lock out the gas engine. These POS cars took green stickers away from cars that truly deserved it, like the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR, both getting over 37 miles per charge, and both being able to drive without using any gas at any speed.

    1. Orygun EV driver says:

      I totally agree. I remember seeing a survey where 58% of all Prius Plug in buyers primary motivation was HOV access.
      I think a fair number of them even said they never used the plug at all!
      That being said, this is a different beast. With a more powerful electric motor and higher all electric speed, it’s at least as capable as the Energi products and other 20ish mile PHEV’s. They’ll sell by the boatload.

    2. Mark says:

      The green HOV lane decals are now gone. So we’ll see if as many folks are motivated to get the Prime knowing that it won’t grant them single occupant access to the HOV lane.

  11. Bone says:

    I agree with most parts of this article. This is an important car and will have positive impact on EV market. It’s great that Toyota is stepping up.

    However, I don’t think it’s going to be market leader at any point and I definitely don’t see it among the most important plug-ins. There are cars that are way more influential and advanced. Cars like Volt, Bolt, Model S, Model 3, Leaf and i3.

    I like the name Prius Prime. It instantly makes it clear that this is something much better than regular Prius.

  12. Assaf says:

    David, you make some very strong points, but you leave a sour taste in the mouth when placing it third behind two cars that have never come to market – and completely omit the analogous upgrade of an existing plug-in car, in fact to date the best-selling plug-in vehicle in US and the world.

    Yes, why leave out the Nissan Leaf? It’s pretty clear that the Leaf Gen 2 is at least as important as the PiP Gen 2.

    Moreover, after incentives (at least for the first 1-2 years before incentive might run out) the Leaf Gen 2 will price similarly to the PiP, possibly even cheaper.

    And of course, you’re also leaving out the Volt Gen 2, which GM seems determined to market more heavily.

    And then there’s the Outlander PHEV, already having a huge footprint on the global EV market, and coming to the US concurrently with the PiP.

    In short, in my list the PiP Gen 2 is at best fighting for #5 on this list, and that’s in the US. Outside the US there are plenty of other at least as important plug-ins, such as the Golf BEV/PHEV versions, the Renault Zoe, and several blockbuster EVs from China that can be great exports to other less-wealthy markets.

    Sorry. Toyota has stalled for too long. Your strongest point is that the PiP has demonstrated its ability to win over “plain-vanilla” Prius drivers. But that only goes so far, and it sure isn’t revolutionary.

    1. David Murray says:

      I do think those other cars are important. But I still believe the Prius Prime will out-sell them. Buyers will consider the Prius Prime much less of a risk than a Leaf or any of the other vehicles you mentioned.

      1. Scramjett says:

        Maybe here in the US, but I doubt that the Prius Prime will outsell any of them outside the US, even in its home country. I think you’re also forgetting the dark horse in this race, the Hyundai Ioniq. Based on my own unscientific observations here in California, Hyundai’s have become almost as popular as Toyota and Honda. I think a lot of former Prius owners are going to take a hard look at the Ioniq.

        1. Assaf says:

          @Scramjett +1
          @David, are you suggesting that Leaf Gen 2 will be perceived as more “risky” than the brand-new Bolt? Because you placed Bolt in the top 2, above the PiP Gen 2. Personally I don’t think this ranking makes sense.

          Again, your post makes strong points, but you seem to have something against the Leaf.

          Likewise, the Bolt ranking higher than the Volt Gen 2 doesn’t make too much sense. I believe you drive a Volt, so why do you think its Gen 2 will have less impact then either the Bolt or the PiP 2? Well, even now that the Volt Gen 2 is available only in CARB-ish states, it’s selling pretty well. This should accelerate.

          I’m afraid that the PiP is too little, too late. It will have its followers among Toyota loyalists, which are a large crowd – but anyone not married to the brand, and wishing to explore the plug-in world, is going to have quite a few better choices.

          And among the growing EV insider community – as you also admit – it will perhaps not be a joke like the PiP Gen 1, but it won’t make anyone’s top list.

      2. Mark says:

        Again, if the major motivation for procuring the gen 1 PIP was carpool lane decals, and these decals are now gone, while white decals continue to be available for battery electric vehicles, then – in California at least – the gen 2 PIP (Prius Prime) is not going to be near the top of the list.

  13. Tom says:

    I don’t much care for the plug-in hybrids. I prefer a BEV. It will be interesting to see how popular the Prius Prime will be…

  14. Chris says:

    Agree David…but it will likely be #1 (as sad as that is in many respects). The Prius is the ultimate “known quantity”. Just like Camry and Accord buyers are on auto-repeat with regard to purchasing subsequent generations of each, I believe Prius buyers are in the same mode at this point . Now add in the “even better mileage and eco-cred” and the “look, its a giant smart phone with a big screen…just like a Tesla!” and this thing will sell well.

    Heck, half the buyers won’t even be AWARE of the existence of competitors like the Volt!

  15. Jay Cole says:

    I don’t often chime in randomly, but I just wanted to say, I almost (almost) penned an article similar to this…so points to David for putting it out there. The basic premise was the same. The Toyota Prius Prime isn’t for “us”, the hardcore, the uber-well informed EV enthusiasts/advocates.

    It is for the masses, and it is for those who have a relationship with Toyota, and specifically the Prius brand. Robert above made a comment I often do myself when we see a product like this – “gateway drug”, the Prius Prime (like the original Prius PHV) will do move to get new people into a plug-in than any other car over the next 2 years.

    More important than anything other factor perhaps, is what happened (just before Toyota ran out of inventory in mid 2014, then shut down completely in mid-2015), all Toyota salespeople figured something out when the MSRP came down a couple thousand bucks…that inside a lease, the Prius PiP was less money than a base Prius.

    Now that the Prime has double the pack (8.8 kWh) that gives it a $4,168 federal incentive. This means that even if it has a starting MSRP of ~$31,000, the Prius Prime, still leases out less than a base $24,200 Prius. Even at $35k, it would only be $50 more on a 48 month term.

    Toyota sold 113,000 standard Prii last year, ~180k of the family. Unlike other plug-ins, promotion is build in, Toyota backs the product – and everyone and their dog is aware of the Prius. Now, go ahead and put the Prius Prime in the showroom…better looking, better tech, better efficiency, more green cred. Forget sales to the wider market, or from Toyota in general, knowing what we do, re-assign a percentage of sales from the Prius family to the Prius Prime…on its own, it is a big number (relative to what we see today in EV sales).

    If Toyota prices this at $29,990 (and stocks it)…it has a real good shot at be the top plug-in seller in the US indefinitely (remember Toyota has already established they can sell 10k+/moth of the regular Prius). So while “we” might not see the Prius Prime has the sharpest tool in the shed…its real (and potential) value to the segment is huge.

    1. GrokGrok says:

      I meant to add in my own comment that even the smaller battery, and thus the smaller federal tax credit is to the Prime’s advantage in some ways. Lots more people owe $4000 in federal taxes than $7500, and thus can get the full tax advantages outside of a lease. My bet is that lots more people buy Prii than lease them.

      1. sven says:

        Good point.

    2. mustang_sallad says:

      Totally agree. The only catch is the fact that it seats 4 instead of 5. Besides that, this thing would be an absolute home run (just not with the enthusiasts that come to a site like this).

      1. Assaf says:

        It seats 4? That immediately throws a wrench into the arguments made by David (and Jay here in the comment).

        If you invoke consumer inertia, you cannot ignore the inertia of buying similarly-seated cars. Many Toyota/Prius loyalists will hesitate before going from 5 seats to 4, even if they rarely use them.

        Since the laws of large numbers hold here (again, this is what the “PiP 2 will be King!” argument is all about) – I seriously doubt that nationwide, the Prime will break 20% of Prius sales. Surely no more than 30%.

        Besides, Prius sales are on a steady decline. Green-aware buyers are willing to give plug-ins a bigger chance, and the sometimes-greenish or gas-$$-saving crowd opts for cheaper high-gas-mileage compacts and midsizes.

        So: in the first full calendar year of sales (2017) the Prime will try to eat out of a diminishing pool of Prius loyalists, while facing the Bolt, a well-established Volt Gen 2, the Outlander PHEV, likely also the Leaf Gen 2, a couple of cheaper Korean PHEVs with better specs (although likely a smaller touch-screen 🙂 ), Tesla Model 3 mania – and I’m probably forgetting some on the list.

        To sum it up: the Prime will have an easy time breaking 10k/year sales, but a much harder time reaching 20k/year. Beyond that – wishful thinking, methinks.

    3. ClarksonCote says:

      Jay, I think (as usual) I agree with the majority of your comment here… With two potential exceptions:

      1) The four seat configuration may limit sales. It certainly was the reason many avoided the Gen 1 Volt; we’ll see what five seats will do for Gen 2 Volt.

      2) You said it looks better, which I can’t agree with. Of course, looks are subjective, so you get a free pass here, haha! 🙂

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Yes indeed, looks are definitely subjective.

        And just so we are clear, I meant “looks better” in relation to the standard Prius sitting beside it in the Toyota showroom floor…not to other plug-ins in general.

        It’s not my favorite EV design by any stretch…although not the worst either, (=

        1. ClarksonCote says:

          Haha, yes, fair enough Jay. One thing I don’t like are all the Mirai-like design cues personally, but I suppose this still looks better than the standard Prius 😉

  16. GrokGrok says:

    David, let me join in the praise for a well done article — though you did miss the HOV sticker point, as someone else said.

    There were 122,000 regular Prii sold in the U.S. in 2014. The people who want to drive a high MPG car will immediately glom onto the advantages of a PHEV, and I can see almost all of the regular Prius buyers converting to the Prius Prime in fairly short order. Toyota will find it hard to ignore that customers seem to like plug-ins, which will lead them to think about adding more. Then, Prime Gen 2 will bump the AER up to 50 miles due to customer demand.

    Though PHEVs aren’t for the BEV purists, they’re a great bridging mechanism and gateway drug to the all BEV future.

  17. My point is still; lack of perspective. In three years I’d be embarrassed to own this car when there are multiple 200+ mile range EVs on the road. Of course, Toyota has always been committed to slowing down the transition to EVs to retain their sales momentum in hybrids.
    However, if they were to show up with a small van or utility truck that had this 120 mpg feature, it might be interesting.

    1. Spider-Dan says:

      If you’d be embarrassed to own this car in 3 years, it’s not meant for you.

      There are tens of thousands of plain-old ICE-hybrid Prius drivers who aren’t the slightest bit embarrassed to be driving a car that gets 50+ MPG. In fact, many of them take pride in their MPG numbers.

      Most consumers don’t look at this in such a binary fashion, where you are either a good guy charging your BEV from solar panels on your roof, or a bad guy that’s using filthy coal/natural gas/petroleum to drive your car.

      1. rcm4453 says:

        The problem is there’s nothing special about this car. Only Toyota fanboys think it is. The first gen Volt beats this car in every way possible and it’s 5 year old tech already! Most people don’t do their research, if they did they would never buy this car. 55mpg is a joke in 2016, nothing to brag about, maybe back in 2009 it was. With gen 2 Volt offering 53 miles all electric and way better performance and the 200+ BEVs coming out why on earth would any rational consumer buy this?!?

        1. Prashanta says:

          Volt 1 does not beat Prius Prime in every way possible. Not by a long shot.

          Some things that Prime is better for:
          – better gas efficiency
          – better electric efficiency
          – more cargo, more head/leg room for back passengers
          – more safety tech
          – (probably) better handling

  18. Ian says:

    22 miles electric…is this 2011

    1. mr. M says:

      No, the numbers are not equal. It’s 1989 less.

  19. Mike I says:

    This article is very well done. I just want to add two things.
    1. The Prius Prime is better looking than its brother Prius.
    2. There are no more Green HOV stickers in California. That was a major initial demand driver for CA drivers who would otherwise buy a regular Prius.

  20. Spider-Dan says:

    I’m not sure how one arrives at the conclusion that the Prius Prime is the 3rd most important plug-in. Specifically, if you’re playing the brand name card to put it ahead of the Volt, why wouldn’t you do the same to put it ahead of the Bolt?

    If you’re evaluating cars on the merits, the Volt is clearly better than the PP. If you’re not evaluating cars on the merits, but on the badges, the Bolt still has the same badge as the Volt.

    1. David Murray says:

      Good point. I should have elaborated on that. My main reasons work like this. The Model-III is the most important because the threat of that model’s existence is what kicked many manufacturers into high gear, causing them to actually make an effort on their plug-in offerings. I believe the Volt and Bolt EV to be a direct result of this. The Bolt EV, however, may end up being a more important player than the Volt. For some reason, consumers have a problem understanding plug-in hybrids. But pure-electrics make sense to them. But more than that, it is a taller and larger vehicle. That’s always been one limiting aspect of the Volt, being the American public wants larger cars. So I suspect the Bolt EV may actually sell better than the Volt. Time will tell. Either way around, I suspect the Prius Prime will sell better than the Volt, despite being an inferior product.

      1. Spider-Dan says:

        You’ve kind of answered the original question, but created two new ones:

        1) If the public “has problems understanding PHEVs,” why is the PP more important than the Leaf?

        2) If the public wants larger cars, why is the first-ever non-5-seat Prius so important? The size has went down, not up.

  21. Reddy says:

    Excellent article. Looking forward to more from this author. Too many comments above are the same as mine, so I’ll defer to others.

  22. iwatson says:

    Mr. Murray writes that the “Prime” is a completely different car from the standard Prius. It appears to me that Toyota has modified the body and interior from the “Mirai” Fuel cell vehicle. The front styling and the dash pictures look very similar to the Mirai, at least IMO. Plus the Mirai is also a 4-seater. Does anyone else see the resemblance?

  23. sven says:

    David, great article. But you would be remiss not to mention that the Prius Prime uses a heat pump for its climate control system, which if I’m not mistaken is a first for a PHEV or EREV (correct me if I’m wrong). The EPA calculates the Volt’s 53 AER and Prius Prime’s 22 AER without running the the heater or AC. When it’s cold or hot enough outside to use the climate control, the Prius Prime should take less of a hit to AER than a Volt, which would be using a resistive heater or less efficient AC compressor. While the AER gap between the Volt and Prius Prime wouldn’t be eliminated in cold or hot weather, it would be lessened. The question is how much?

    In densely populated cities with extensive public transit, like NYC, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia, and their surrounding suburbs, cars have different use pattern as opposed to the rest of the U.S.. Many people who live in the above cities use public transit for their commute to work, and their after-work errands require traveling relatively short distances since everything is lot closer and bunched together than in more rural areas. A 22 mile AER might suit their needs perfectly. Many NYC dwellers mostly use their cars only to get out of the city on weekends on day trips, weekend getaways, or to get to their summer/winter houses. These weekend getaways to the beach (Hamptons or Jersey Shore) or to go skiing (upstate NY Catskill mountains & Adirondack mountains, or to Vermont or Maine) are multi-hundred mile trips where the 31 additional EV miles that the Volt provides over the Prius Prime are virtually meaningless to these drivers, but the much higher MPG rating of the Prius Prime over the Volt might be a selling point to them. These urban drivers might find the Prius Prime’s 22 mile AER is sufficient for meeting their local driving needs during the week, while providing the highest MPG ratings for their long weekend road trips.

  24. GeorgeS says:

    Good article. I certainly am not about to say anything bad about the Prius. We still have one—an 08— and it has 100,000 miles on it. Cost of operating this car has been phenomenal. We also owned a 2012 Volt which I really liked.

    The Prius has probably taken more carbon off the street than any other vehicle including Tesla.

    However I will disagree with one of the articles premises: loyal Prius owners will by the Prime. I am a loyal Prius owner but I will not buy the Prime.

    I will buy a Chevy Bolt to supplement our workhorse Prius and when the Model 3 is out I may switch to that. If I had to buy another Prius I would buy the Prius 2 ECO that gets 58 MPG and has no plug.

  25. ModernMarvelFan says:

    “The first is that it carried the Toyota Prius name badge, ”

    Agreed!

    “The second advantage is that it was easy to convert regular Prius buyers to Plug-In buyers at the dealership level. ”

    Not really. People will just buy the one without plug..

    The biggest factor you missed was the Carpool sticker now ran out…

    Unless they touted post incentives price below similar priced Prius, why would anyone buy it?

    It does look slightly better but lacks 5th seat and the last piece of puzzle is its MPG in gas mode and performance.

  26. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

    I thought the original PIP was basically a Prius built for CARB and sold to CA buyers solely for the HOV sticker. I still think that.

    This one appears more interesting. We’ll need to see the price point, the interior room, and also the crash test results (the previous generation Prii had some real problems there for some of the models). But I can see situations where this would really be useful. For example, someone who does very little driving on the weekdays but needs to make long trips on the weekends. Long trips make even an EV like the Bolt less practical unless you can be sure of a charge during the trip and don’t mind waiting for the time it takes. The Prius line has been highly reliable and also highly utilitarian in terms of interior space.

    1. GeorgeS says:

      @RBL
      “This one appears more interesting. We’ll need know the interior room,”

      It is less than the std Prius. Rear cargo floor has been raised

  27. Rick Bronson says:

    A person who pays $6,000 more for a Plugin would like the model to look different so that people who see it will credit the owner for going green and is also easier for him to sell the vehicle.

    If Toyota has invested Time, Money & Effort to give it a distinct look in both the front and the back, then the company will also try hard to sell as much as possible.

    Thanks to Toyota for doubling the range and also the interior space of Prius Prime will be more than that of Prius PHV.

    And many extra features were added like a big screen. Best of all, its priced at the same 30K as the older model.

    Definitely it will sell and on seeing this the Chevy dealers will also sell as many Volts as possible.

    And Hyundai is also joining with their Ioniq. Wow, its all wonderful.

    1. Spider-Dan says:

      The “green cred” was a major factor in selling the Prius (it was a top seller in the two most expensive zip codes in CA, amidst $80k Porsches and Benzes), so I agree that distinguishing it from the normal Prius will help. However, I think the Model S has removed most of the wind from those sails, at least in the upper income brackets.

      As far as size goes, from what I can tell the PP has less cargo and seating that the PiP, so I don’t see how it would have more interior room.

  28. Bill Howland says:

    I always said the original PIP wasn’t given a fair shake by the ‘ev community’ (or at least the self – styled one), not even much ‘press’ coverage.

    Meanwhile it was the second most popular plug-in next to the VOLT. Teslas are popular elsewhere but my area is in general too poor to afford them.

    This car is so much of an improvement over the first PIP that it can hardly become anything other than a Best Seller.

    I’m glad the rest are finally seeing this.

  29. sharkvolt says:

    The Bolt is going to outsell the Volt and Prius Prime in California by a HUGE margin for the next year (2017) because it will be the ONLY White sticker HOV access vehicle available with over 200 mile range and for less than $40,000 in California. GM can sell 60,000 of them if they can make enough of them.

    1. Just_chris says:

      If gm make enought bolts in 2017 to sell 60,000 globally I’ll eat my hat. The problem isn’t the car it’s the whole mentality behind ev’s at gm. Halo cars are great but we need to move on.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      GM says it plans to make only 20k-30k Bolts in the first year of production. I don’t know how many Toyota plans to make of the Prius Prime, but it would surprise me greatly if it doesn’t outsell the Bolt, internationally.

      Remember, Toyota sells to a fully international market, while Bolt sales will be mainly restricted to North America. GM has already shot European sales of the Bolt in the foot, by re-badging it as the “Ampera-e”. 🙁

  30. Just_chris says:

    I completely agree that this is a very important car. It is a mainstream car, hopefully at a mainstream price, if this car is accepted and sells well we are well on our way to a phev cammry, not to mention all of the other hybrids that the Toyota group make. Toyota more than almost any car company could take us to the next level with ev’s.

  31. Peter G. says:

    Toyota built its empire on standard hybrids. They currently market 13 different models. In the EV world they are an also ran. It is in the company’s best intrest to sabotage EV sales. Expect the Prius Prime to come in at a high price, and imported in low numbers.

    1. Peter G. says:

      The most important plug-ins are all the GM, Tesla and Nissan models. They alone have the suply of batteries and the will to reach mass market levels.

  32. ydnas7 says:

    toyota has the opportunity to lease this car at less than the rate of a hybrid prius, but does Toyota have the will?

    with only 4 seats, the prius prime will have to compete against a double+ range PHEV from GM Volt and a bonafide 5 seater AWD PHEV from Mitsubishi and a potential game changer 7 seater from FCA!

    let alone the 200mile EVs from GM, Nissan and Tesla

    essential Toyota will be forced to compete on price, but will they choose to?

  33. ydnas7 says:

    also i think a lot of buyers will cross ship this with Hyundai Ioniq.

    looks and seating will tend to favour the Hyundai

  34. Jacked Beanstalk says:

    The truth is that despite their unmatched experience with hybrid technology Toyota got pwned by GM. The Volt is an engineering masterpiece while the Prius Prime is a half-hearted effort which fails to account for the average daily drive distance. For the first time in my life GM has out-engineered the Japanese; proof that American engineers can hang with the best if management unleashes them.

    Lots of people may buy the Prius Prime and that is a shame because it would save a lot more fossile fuel if they bought Volts instead.

    1. rcm4453 says:

      +1

      I’m not loyal to any brand, the better car gets my business no matter who makes it. So far nobody comes close to the Volt in the PHEV segment. 22 miles isn’t enough, especially in winter. I had a gen 1 Volt and felt that the 35 miles wasn’t even enough AER, people want more electric range! If electric range isn’t important to you then you’d buy a regular hybrid.

  35. EVA-01 says:

    Hello everyone, long time reader of this site and finally decided to join in on the conversations!

    Now David, I believe you have an excellent point in this article because customers love the Toyota brand. To add to that, the Prius nomenclature has been a rock star for starting the mainstream, electrified vehicle revolution. Now I fully agree that this car does not have enough EV range compared to other incumbents but I believe that you all seem to forget the present value of buying a Prius, getting great mpg. Toyota wants to have a car that still gets fantastic mpg yet slowly introduce more EV range as it can without jeopardizing the mpg of the car. As much as we want our society to not be gasoline dependent, it still is and getting great mpg is what the Prius name is known for.

    Now for future thought, customers buying a plug-in hybrid will love the electric drive that they’ll only crave more range. After time, if they own the Prius Prime and Toyota is still holding out on a BEV, then they will most likely go elsewhere to get their BEV. I’m sure most people know what hybrids are and I’m sure they think of a Toyota Prius when they think of a hybrid. Now imagine if those customers decide on their next car purchase to get the Prius Prime, they already took the next step toward an all electric vehicle. Hybrids are the gateway drug toward towards all electric cars and the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime should be applauded for eventually getting customers to that point.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Heya EVA,

      Just wanted to say “hi”, and great first post, (=

      Totally on board with your comment, the Prius Prime will do a lot for getting people otherwise unacquainted with the tech into a plug-in…and that is a good thing, because for the post part, once you own a plug, you don’t go back.

      1. EVA-01 says:

        Hi Jay, thank you for the compliment and welcome. I look forward to having some fantastic conversations between you and all the other readers alike.

  36. Scott says:

    No 5th seat… Gheez Toyota, what a load of crap. I don’t care about the tgt design characteristics of the car…look at your loyal audience of the Prius. By far, most will not like that 4 seat limitation. It is the same thing that kills the Volt. Very stupid. I currently have a 07 Prius which has been rock solid in most every way. Have been struggling to wait for the Model E for the next new car and honestly thought about the Prius Prime based on having a plug and Toyota quality but that will not happen now. Stupid move on your part.

  37. Steven says:

    First, I’ll start by saying I’m the owner of a 2007 Prius with 110,000 miles and a 2011 Prius with 75,000 miles. Before I settled on purchasing my 2011 model, I test drove a Volt and a Jetta TDI (back when they had fabricated green credentials). Although I thought the initial quality of both were higher than the Prius, my decision came down to which would likely have the best reliability over the long run. Is the Prius the cutting edge vehicle it was when it rose to prominence over 10 years ago? No. Are its sales number plateauing? Possibly. The Prime may not have the range of other (P)HEVs, but the new Prius has remarkably more cabin space than the Volt, and better headroom than the Malibu. It’ll drive like a regular Prius if you take a trip and don’t readily have access to a plug. The Voltec platform was never designed to operate that way, and in that sense is inferior in its inflexibility. If Toyota markets it right sales will go beyond existing Prius customer base to people who may have never considered a vehicle with a plug. I suspect the unique styling alone will sell more than a few when seated side-by-side to the standard Prius on dealer lots. Of course I will be fanboying over the Model 3 with the vast majority of you on Thursday night. Day-to-day, however, I’m abysmally practical. Until we have inductive charging built into the roadways, an EV could never meet all my driving needs. The 450-mile range of the standard Prius was a big selling point for me, and now the 600-mile range of the Prime is even more lucrative. I’m in the situation where I have the ability to charge at work, but not at my apartment (and those California and Hawaii regulations regarding charger installation are unlikely to become federal soon). I already know the Prime is going to replace my 2007 model early next year because it can adapt to any situation I may find myself in and I couldn’t be more excited. To those of you who have already written the Prime off as being out-of-date aren’t living in the reality that many Americans are still purchasing ICE cars based on the price of gasoline on the day they walk into the dealership.

    1. Spider-Dan says:

      “It’ll drive like a regular Prius if you take a trip and don’t readily have access to a plug. The Voltec platform was never designed to operate that way, and in that sense is inferior in its inflexibility.”

      This criticism doesn’t make any sense, as the Volt is the only PHEV that drives the same whether you are on electric or gas. It’s like saying that you bought an i8 over a Model S because you wanted an EV with really good performance, or you bought a 500e over a Leaf because you wanted a car with the largest dealer service network.

      1. Steven says:

        Inflexibility was the key word in that sentence. I know many Volt owners do not wish to have a mechanical linkage from the generator to the wheels, and that’s fine; the Prime obviously won’t be their first choice when seeking a replacement vehicle. For drivers who don’t plug in every day, both the regular Prius and the Prime get ~20% better fuel economy than the Volt. Yes, calling the Volt “inferior” is wording it a little strong, but the Prime has a drive mode that delivers improved MPGe and is not possible in the Volt; what else would you call that?

        1. Spider-Dan says:

          I don’t see what a mechanical linkage has to do with anything, but yes: when running on gas, there is a mechanical linkage between the Volt’s engine and the wheels.

          However, what you said was, “It’ll drive like a regular Prius if you take a trip and don’t readily have access to a plug. The Voltec platform was never designed to operate that way, and in that sense is inferior in its inflexibility.” The word inflexibility makes no sense in that sentence, because the Volt has the same driving characteristics when on or off gas.

          To say that the Volt is “inflexible” because the Prius gets better MPG is a confusing usage of that word; “inefficient” might be a better one, but it’s going to be pretty difficult to make the inefficiency argument when the Volt’s real-world gas usage will be a tiny fraction of that of the Prius.

          1. Steven says:

            If you don’t like my choice of words, fine; I’ll be concise this time: the Volt is great at being an EV but is terrible when it attempts to be a hybrid. It has never been a direct competitor to the Prius for this reason, et al.

            1. Spider-Dan says:

              I’d say the Volt is still pretty good when it comes to being a hybrid, particularly if you care at all about driving characteristics.

  38. kdawg says:

    “it will likely be less expensive than most of the competitors”
    ——–

    To be determined. The PiP wasn’t, especially when you factor in the tax credits.

  39. jstack6 says:

    It would only be PRIME or IMPORTANT if Toyota made it 100% electric. With all the new long range pure electrics it’s time for Toyota to step up and make a real electric car. Hybrids are so last century with gas, oil, exhaust and 2 systems when others are all 100% Electric.
    Let’s move on Toyota.

  40. Benjamin says:

    Toyota reliability and brand loyalty, with millions of existing (mostly) satisfied Prius drivers on the road, solid green cred with full electric range sufficient for a large proportion of daily drives combined with excellent over-the-road fuel efficiency which is important for those who do a lot of interstate driving. A mid-size car with adult-size back seats, and look-at-me styling … I agree this will prove to be an important addition to the plug-in economy and it could challenge for highest-selling plug-in vehicle in the coming years if Toyota is prepared to crank up production and to market the vehicle.

    The new Prius has some buzz following the awesome Super Bowl commercial and the wild styling. I could see Prius Prime selling 30,000/year in the US, if Toyota pushes, maybe even more. And world-wide the Prime could conceivably be the first plug-in to hit 100,000/year if Toyota is aggressive, though it’s unlikely to go that high.

    1. Benjamin says:

      Though if the US version is a 4-seat car like the Japanese, that would not help.

    2. GB says:

      Adult sized back seats a major plus.

      Good point.

  41. heiwa says:

    I enjoyed reading Dave’s initial article and people’s reactions to it. I particularly appreciated Andrew’s post on 3/25 and Steve’s post on 3/26. Prius Prime appears to me an excellent PHEV and may have an impact as Dave described.

    I own 2013 Leaf and 2014 Prius Plug-in. It took my wife and I rather significant adjustment of thinking about a vehicle when we initially decided on purchasing a Leaf. We had to tell ourselves to think it in terms of just a commuter car for 38-98 miles per day. Once you accept the concept, Leaf became an attractive option to consider, and has proven to be an extremely reliable and favorite VERY low cost operating commuter car of the family. What we would have paid for our previous ICE car’s gas and maintenance went to cover most of our car payments. The Prius Plug-in was not that big leap of thought for us because we needed a car that can do the distance as well as covering my wife’s daily commute of 6 miles per day. In driving the Prius Plug-in, we learned that the 11 miles of AEV can significantly enhance the car’s overall mpg performance. In the way we use it with low mileage daily commute plus 1-3 times a week of 38-250 mile trips with no charging outside of our home, we are averaging 72-74 mpg for the life of the car. IMHO, Prius Plug-in is one of the most underestimated cars on the market simply because the AEV range is so small. The prime’s 22 mile AEV range combined with the most reliable, matured and more efficient hybrid ICE on the market, I cannot wait to see what the car’s average mpg will look like.

    Most of us seem to think Toyota is missing the boat on developing BEV, even PHEV compared to the other manufacturers. If you look at Toyota’s hybrid cars and the fuel-cell Mirai (Future in Japanes), as many of us rightfully expressed in frustration, they are one step away from full BEV! The flip side of it is that Toyota must be able to move to BEV at moment’s notice if they want to as all the technological components of BEV are ironed out in the current fleet. Yes, Prime does not have the rage of AEV that most of us expects today. The reality is that most of us, my friends and neighbors, do not even look at EV/PHEV as their potential vehicle. As my son says, if you can buy a decent performance car with $35K, why buy a “Prius!” Do you know which car he WANTS to dive when he wants to go to a beach or a lake with his friends? He wants our despised Prius Plug-in instead of his “fabulous” Chevy Silverado!