Can Hybrids Still Compete With Plug in Hybrid Vehicles in Long Distance Travel?

NOV 23 2015 BY MARK HOVIS 85

Are Hybrids really more efficient for long distance?

Are Hybrids really more efficient for long distance?

The two primary reasons that launched the hybrid (HEV) revolution were fuel economy and efficiency.

The Toyota Prius first launched from Japan in 1997 and was introduced to the US market in 2000. The Prius was the number one selling HEV from its launch and has not relinquished its lead ever since. Prius owners have made their purchase for both stated reasons, but for the most part did so for fuel efficiency.

The Prius and other HEVs however are slowly giving up sales to the plug in hybrid (PHEV) and may well lose ground to the upcoming 200 mile battery electric vehicles (BEV).

2016 prius

2016 Toyota Prius

Toyota recently announced that their new MY2016 Prius HEV will be capable of 56 MPG. With the Toyota Prius being the number #1 selling HEV, some have compared this statistic to that of the #1 selling PHEV, MY2016 Chevy Volt with an EPA rating of 42 MPG, and concluded that the Prius HEV is still the greener and more efficient  over longer distances.  The Volt is capable of 106 MPGe for the first 53 miles, so what effect does that have on long distance travel?

In some instances, the MY2016 Toyota Prius hybrid HEV would have to drive 242 miles before overtaking the Chevy Volt plug in hybrid in fuel efficiency, while always less efficient inside 100 miles. This is the simple math that is rapidly devouring hybrid sales HEVs for plug in hybrids PHEVs and pure electric BEVs as well.

This showcases the effect that reasonable all electric range (AER) has on long commutes. Toyota announced that it will increase the electric range of their plug in Prius PiP from 11 miles to ~30 miles in 2017. The above graph shows the impact of how the top end of 35 miles compares to their own HEV. All specifications are not in on the 2017 PiP, but one can see how it will be a very attractive PHEV for those with short daily commutes and long weekend travels.

People can find the PHEV or BEV that fits their lifestyle best here.  When efficiency matters in one’s decision, more and more the plug in vehicle wins when compared to the HEV. If there is charging at both ends of one’s commute, the break even in efficiency is often doubled.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

But efficiency is not the only perk to the savvy buyer. Performance is just more icing on the cake.

The Toyota Prius HEV opened the twenty first century with leading edge technology, and no single vehicle today has done more toward easing the use of fossil fuel. For all the good accomplished by the Prius HEV, it also is a bit responsible for the “golf cart” mentality toward EVs. In fact, if it were not for Tesla, this belief would be even more prominent today.   As for hybrids being the king of long distance efficiency, that page has turned and performance is no longer a sacrifice.

It is worth noting that the MY 2016 Prius has improved its performance and has been quoted as driving more like a “normal car”. That is good news, in that it will invite a larger number of potential drivers. The driving experience of a PEV however, is superior to that of a normal car or hybrid. The Chevy Volt’s low center of gravity, combined with its 0 to 30 MPH in 2.6 seconds makes it and exhilarating drive while remaining more efficient than any hybrid without a plug.

There are of course many factors beyond efficiency alone. Cost, performance, size and your particular commute all play into the best fit. There are many online tools today to help you find the vehicle that fits you best. Here is one from ClearPath that will assist you in your quest that compares EVs to diesel and gasoline models. As for long distance efficiency, step aside hybrids, there are many new games in town, and they are touting a plug.

Categories: Chevrolet, Toyota

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

85 Comments on "Can Hybrids Still Compete With Plug in Hybrid Vehicles in Long Distance Travel?"

newest oldest most voted

And why are electricity prices not included in all these charts and reviews – one big hole if you ask me.

Average plugin or EV uses about 24kWh per 100km amounting to much lower overall cost efficiency, not to mention battery costs that are 3+ times more expensive on plugins than e.g. Prius. Your Volt battery will cost you upwards of 7000GBP, while prius is around 1300GBP.

24 kWh per 100 km, where did you get that figure? My Leaf has a 24 kWh battery and I average better than 90 miles on a charge. That’s about 145 of those km things you refer to.

And regarding the chart, isn’t it misleading to suggest the Prius hybrid gets 56 mpg all the time? I don’t have a Prius, but my understanding is that they get 56 mpg in city driving, while averaging much lower on the highway. So when driving a Prius on the referrenced 240 mile trip, wouldn’t one average far less than 56 mpg?

The 56 MPG is the average between city and highway.

As a Prius owner, I can reveal some “secrets” Prius owners oft get silent or defensive about. For one – those short trips to the grocery or to pick up the kids. Those exact trips are where most of your cars live. On those drives you can often see the 50MPG you thought you bought – be an actual 27 or less MPG. How?!!! You may ask? Try – the gas engine coming on each and every time you start the car! Prius owners act like you may never learn this…But be educated all who think about buying a hybrid: That gas engine is on/off/on/off all the time. Toyotas past the 2nd generation ( 2010 ) in North America finally adopted the “EV Mode” button previously held back from North Americans. So at least 2010 Toyota hybrid drivers can hit EV Mode and get approximately 1 mile of EV drive at 70degrees Fahrenheit on flat roads. Still – add a hill and the gas engine fires to life anyway. Got nobody behind you? – Great, just hypermile away…But get that feisty SUV behind you with a soccer mom on a mission, late for practice, and she’ll run you off the… Read more »

When I had a Prius, I consistently got 50+ MPG in local NYC driving.

I’ve driven a Prius for about two and a half years, and my lifetime average is ~47mpg. That’s predominantly city driving (like most people), with a whole lot of those 1-mile trips to the supermarket. And also in a place that has cold winters.

As an owner of a 2001 Prius which will enter its 16th year of service in January, my lifetime mileage is 43.5 mpg (70% suburban, 25% city, 5% highway) — 47 mpg average summer, 38 mpg winter average. Best tank full achieved 51.5 mpg (summer, mostly city traffic). Worst tank full was 31.0 mpg (sub-zero F temperatures in snow and salt induced slushy roads)

Couple of things.. First of all, the issue of a cold engine getting bad fuel economy is not unique to the Prius. All gas cars experience that. The Prius was one of the first cars to popularize the ability to track MPG both instantly and over time. This resulted in quite a few upset customers who thought something was wrong with their car because it didn’t always get the advertised fuel economy, especially when cold or driving fast. And the higher your MPG is, the more exaggerated it appears. For example, if you are off by 10% of 10 mpg, you still get 9 mpg. But if you are off 10% of 52 mpg, then you are off 5.2 mpg, significant enough to make somebody think something is wrong. As for your attempts to drive to the grocery store in EV mode on a Prius, it is futile. If you can make the entire trip, I suppose it might be worthwhile avoiding an engine warmup. But if you know you can’t make the whole trip in EV mode, then there is no point because the engine is going to come on and regenerate all that power you used. EV mode… Read more »
Time for a brushup on our Prius knowledge. “Cold engine” is a general term. Toyota engineers provided a nice solution for preventing an aluminum head on a cold engine from warpage that could be caused from heat/cold cycling on a hybrid design wherein – as I describe – the gas engine and electric-assist are trading off duties. For gen 2 Prius, they placed a hot water bottle behind the left headlight. This bottle can keep warm water cycling through a Prius’ 4 cylinder engine for 3 days without the need for reheating the coolant. Another way of describing this is: Your engine is always warm. 3rd generation Prius ( 2010-2015 ) ditched the hot water bottle for an EGR system designed for the same task, keeping hot/cold water from cycling through the engine. So now we’re up-to-speed about how manufacturers deal with a cold engine. This indeed becomes a non-factor in this discussion of short trips. No matter that there is now NO NEED to warm up the engine, creating efficiency losses related to this task, the matter of fact is just that the basic premise of HSD is flawed when compared to GM’s “EREV” or “Voltec” system. Other brands… Read more »
Even more pathetic ( in referring to Hybrid Synergy Drive and other hybrid solutions ) are the extreme measures I’ve tried to trick the Prius’ computer into not turning on the gas powerplant when it does not need to…. Such as leaving the car “on” when going into a store or the post office… Or shifting into Neutral to trick the computer into shutting down the explode-and-burn 4-banger under the hood…Quite pathetic, actually. Not to downplay the significance of Toyota’s Prius or HSD in general. For years Toyota took the HSD football and ran with it producing and selling over a million units – saving untold gobs of fossil fuel usage worldwide. This fact is not lost on me….I applaud Toyota for getting the “true efficient car” ball rolling. Prius is a very significant automobile in history if you ask me. I bought one! It’s just that we’ve moved on, and Toyota really hasn’t. Kudos to them for sticking with it and honing the great idea of a non-plug-in hybrid. They do it best – there is no doubt there. It’s just that Voltec is superior, and non-plug-in hybrids based upon Voltec components such as the 2016 Malibu Hybrid outshine… Read more »

Unless you’re talking about plug in Prius, tricking HSD to not turn on the gas engine doesn’t mean much; energy still comes from gas engine, not from plug. But it was sort of fun to avoid turning on the gas engine. Well, I found it fun.

I liked the mpg in the Prius when I drove one, but it was very boring to drive. I had to drive the speed limit, and hypermile like crazy to achieve 57 mpg average in it. The only time the EV mode was remotely useful was to pull out of the underground parking at my workplace, or to crawl a few blocks home after filling it up from the local gas station. I also hated not being able to plug it in. Unfortunately with Toyota’s anti-plug in stance, and refusing to sell the Plug-in Prius in the Midwest, I didn’t think I’d be able to get one anytime soon without paying an arm and a leg for it. Got a Chevy Volt after selling the Prius to my sister-in-law so she could get to work, and though it’s got less cargo room than the Prius, it’s still enough for my weekly grocery shopping. On top of that, it’s much, much more fun to drive than the Prius, as I can go fast with it without burning a drop of fuel. I also love how much quieter it is on the freeway. Though I am burning a little gas on my… Read more »

AMEN!. As a Prius C owner, I can’t wait for the new Volt. I am so sick of looking for school zones to help my mileage. On a daily 5 mile loop, I have to be determined to burn the battery down by watching that I don’t exceed the sacred 40 MPH switch point that starts the engine. All this for the magic “stated” 46 mpg on arrival. Then I park the car with no battery left for the next couple of miles when the engine recharges it on startup. I used to just drive my ICE cars, now I have to be in a mental mileage marathon. Also, don’t be quoting your mileage from the car’s computed mpg, that has been 2 mpg less than actual. I have calculated every tank since new. Sure you still have added electric bill, but you will be able to “just drive” in most cases, with superior mileage.

My mpg experience with 5 Prius cars (2006,2007,2008,2010,2013) always was the
reverse of the EPA sticker. City mileage in flat and hot south Florida was 40-45 (with AC) and highway always 50-55 with AC at 70 mph. I now have a 2015 Volt base. Clearly, the Volt is best for the local salesman when all driving is electric and the Prius is best for the intercity traveling salesman whose range is consistently farther. Period.

Simple, because prices vary based on where you live but efficiency doesn’t as much and is more comparable.

That Volt battery that you mention is an equivalent of $10,600 USD. For that price you can buy a nice Volt including the battery.

If you include electricity prices then the comparison goes from bad to worse; unless you live in Venezuela, gas prices mean that driving on electricity (charged overnight at home) will always be cheaper than driving on gas.

Venezuela or the Northeast USA, especially NYC.

I don’t know how much to trust this table. In San Diego, our base rate is $0.18/kWh up to $60 in electric use. Table shows $0.1824/kWh as average. That means most people pay less than $60 in Aug 2015 with AC running. It seems implausible.

Worst is $0.40/kWh after one exceeds $80 in electric use. At this rate, charging EV at home costs more than gas cars that get 25 MPG!

Please check your math regarding gas car always costing more for fuel than EV. It depends on electric rate and gas prices.

In SoCal, electric price is $0.40/kWh after about $80 of use, $2.50/gal of gas, SparkEV EPA 3.53 mi/kWh. Then I’d pay same as 22 MPG gas car WITH EV while SparkGas would get 35 MPG.

Even if I conserve (A LOT!) and only use $70 or less of electricity, I still pay equivalent to 48 MPG gas car with $2.50/gal gas and $0.18/kWh base rate electricity, worse than Prius. TOU lowest rate and EV rate around here is the same as base rate; ripoff, I know!

I made a table for various EV to figure it out quickly.

Saying EV will always pay less for energy than gas cars is drinking EV flavor-aid.

Great tables!

Thanks. I aim to help and illuminate. 🙂

except they’re completely wrong. It’s $.17/kwh for unlimited kwh in Southern California when charging overnight.

How are the tables wrong? Show me the math!

Unlimited $0.17/kWh depends on where in SoCal, and it requires dedicated EV metering. TOU is not the same 24/7. Considering electrician cost ($125/hr) + permits + parts, putting in such metering could cost thousands. Amortize over your electric use and length of time you plan to live in that house, and it’ll be much more than $0.17/kWh.

For me, it would’ve been about $3000 to put in EV meter, making my electric rate to be close to $0.50/kWh. Of course, there may be lucky few who happen to live at a home that already has EV metering, but that’s extremely rare exception, not the rule.

If you’re ever paying the top tier rate, you should be banging down the door of your local solar installer.

That plus a dedicated EV meter will save you truckloads of cash.

Top tier is when $70/mo to $100/mo is reached. Everyone I know pay more, yet they seem oblivious to electric price and continue to pay. They complain that it seems high, but not even consider solar. Why? I don’t know!

As I wrote, dedicated EV meter is the same price as base rate. If you include electrician cost, it’s far more expensive than gas cars.

You wasted a lot of time on those useless tables. In southern california, charging over night is $.17/kwh for unlimited kwh.

Did you even look at the tables? They cover from $0.11/kWh to $0.59/kWh, INCLUDING $0.17/kWh. So what part of the table is wrong?

List price of a Volt battery is around $3,000.

“Your Volt battery will cost you upwards of 7000GBP, while prius is around 1300GBP.”

But the li-ion battery in the Volt will well outlast the NiMH battery in the Prius. Not to mention that if your number is right, then the Volt battery is far cheaper on per kWh basis… LOL.

Volt battery lasting longer may or may not be true; it hasn’t been on the market long enough. My suspicion is that it’ll last about as long as Prius based on warranties offered.

What is certain is that $/kWh is less for Volt; Prius is $2300/2kWh=$1150/kWh while Volt is $11000/16kWh=$688/kWh. Those are with today’s prices, and Volt price will go down even more in the future.

Warrantee length isn’t very instructive here. They both have the CARB emissions warrantee.

If Volt is known by GM to last significantly longer, they’d use extra warranty as selling point. Or they could’ve used smaller battery and deeper depth of discharge for longer range. Or they could’ve done some other way to benefit the car while saving cost.

In any case, let’s see in 5 more years how Volt turns up; my hunch is that it won’t be much more than warranty period on average.

YEah – that 24/100 figure is way way off. My i3 has a 22kWh battery – 18.8 of that is usable. I can get 80 miles off a charge EASILY. So it’s more like 18.8kWh/128km – or 14.6kWh/100km.

I would ask the author to post total consumed gasoline including MPGe(s) for that 240 mile journey. Except of course the Hybrid, as that is easy to calculate.

Volt will improve generation after generation, new tech is coming (better batteries, free-piston linear generator etc), while pure hybrids have reached their edge.

The graph is to show gas burned (pollution) no money is mentionned, and the life of the battery is greater than the life of most cars. So no need to try to scare people with 7000$ fictional prices.

For the last year with my BMW i3 REX, I did 94 mpg (2,5L/100km) on the highway only.

Combined, 255 mpg (0.92L/100Km)

And I saved over 2000$CAN of running cost (Gas + Electricity)

“Your Volt battery will cost you upwards of 7000GBP…”

You made that up, didn’t you? Yeah, I think you did.

I am a big Volt fan. With 53-60 miles of electric range on summer days, and 38-43 miles of electric range in the dead of winter – man…Why would anybody buy the current alternatives? Even if the PHEV version of 4th gen Prius does better than it’s predecessor, it’s still strapped by Hybrid Synergy Drive. This means the gas engine goes on/off/on/off nearly constantly in real-world driving. WHO NEEDS THAT?!! BMW i3 people – God bless ’em, every one – should now have an easier time of it when contemplating Volt vs. i3. Why? i3 seats 4 and charges you dearly in every aspect. BMW maintenance? Seriously? i3 has a front “trunk” that isn’t weather sealed…so the tiny space is full of dirt and more dirt. Ugh! All this for the pretty penny you pay. When an adept EV driver can get 60 miles plus with their 2nd gen Volt, and seat 5 – and not deal with the i3 niggles like expensive body repair only done at BMW…and a noisey, tinny Taiwanese Kymco 2 cylinder scooter engine for a backup ( really! Look it up! )… All that talk of i3 “efficiency” soon goes flying out the window. Volt… Read more »

Do you have anything to back up your “expensive body repair” claim or your “only done at BMW” claim?

The BMW i3 has a carbon fiber composite body. This cannot be repaired by an ordinary auto body shop, it takes specialized equipment and training. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were some (or even a lot of) BMW dealerships which can’t perform a body repair on an i3.

Cost? I think that’s an unanswered question;; I haven’t seen any reports of that. In the long run, body repairs to the i3 should be cheaper, but since this is new tech, it could be that it’s currently more expensive due to start-up costs.

@Sven. How are you doing, my friend? In fact, I do have information to back up my claims. I wouldn’t truly just say something for fact unless I had information to back me up. InsideEVs actually did an article on i Series body repair based upon the original article found on Here is the link to BMWblog’s piece which shows proprietary jigs, glues and tools required as well as special training of BMW techs to repair i3s plastic panels as well as it’s CFRP – Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic components. Personal fact-checking of BMW dealers revealed that if body damage is superficial on an i product ( say a scraped bumper cap ) , that piece is plastic and just can be replaced instead of cut and glued. While this is “cheaper” than the latter, it is not cheap. Add this knowledge to the fact that BMW parts are very costly – ask any BMW, Audi or Mercedes owner – owning/buying a “premium brand” also tends to require a premium budget when maintence/parts and service is required. Sorry to franky_b or anyone else who just would rather not mention that fact. But it is, indeed, fact. If you… Read more »

Thanks for the response. I remember that BMW article, but the part that stuck in my memory was the following quote:

“. . . says a BMW technician. He further added that the time it will take to repair i3 electric vehicles will actually be less than standard cars and thus decreased labor costs with auto repair.”

I’m aware of a few body shops in my area that are manufacturer certified for aluminum car repair. They had some of their employees take factory (manufacturer) training courses to learn how to repair aluminum-bodied cars such as Teslas, Jaguars, and Range Rovers. These body shops also bought the special equipment needed to repair these aluminum cars in their shops. I was also under the impression, that the vast majority dealerships don’t do bodywork and painting, but instead farm the work out to bodyshops and charge you a markup.

I would assume BMW also has factory training and manufacturer certification for body shops to be able to repair their carbon fiber cars, just as other manufacturers do for their aluminum cars.

There are a whole lot of aluminum-bodied cars out there, especially since Ford has decided to lead the way in making the bodies of it’s best-selling vehicle ( actually the top-selling vehicle of any kind in N. America ) out of aluminum. Also, hoods, trunklids, hatch lids and doors are often made of aluminum as well as suspension parts which can be bent and in need of replacement.

CFRP – a proprietary-to-BMW material is not carbon fiber, but a plastic sandwich with one layer of carbon matt in the center. Many of the i3’s outer panels including door panels – are injection-molded plastic. These can be removed, and another surface panel re-attached rather simply. The problems surface when it’s more than a minor ouch. When supporting structures are bent and misshapen, cutting and glueing – using jigs and specialized tools are needed. There just plain aren’t enough i3 and i8s on the roads to justify any bodyshop putting that much money and energy into obtaining these tools and training individuals…So it’s BMW’s baby – as of now.

James…. It’s been a while. James, the 5th place in the Volt is not for you, more for your dog.

And the rest is your typical trolling comments on the i3.

Been a long time since a BMW i3 fan has called me a troll.

I don’t mind it. As a known EV advocate and writer – I suppose I know I am striking chords when someone’s preferences are offended and they kill the messenger. Everything I write is based on facts – when you guys name-call, you use no facts.

This calls you out.

It’s OK, humans will be biased. It’s our nature. I’m just using fact in comparing one plug-in choice to another.

You can’t please everyone all the time.

What facts James? Fact: Repair cost? What was said is that it required special tools for the CFRP, but with this tools, the repair is actually fairly simple. Fact: If you compare to aluminum repairs, it also required specialized tools, I don’t ear you yapping about it. Fact: The i3 is the most efficient car on the road Fact: Even if there is a documented 5th place on the Volt, it is not actually usable. But hey, it’s good PR. I prefer 4 conformable seating to 5 tight one. I didn’t buy the i3 because it is a premium car, I bought it because it was the one car that allowed me to maximized my EV miles while allowing me to go anywhere I want without planning. But the interior did sold me (not the badge in front). Fact: 80% of i3 owner where not BMW customer before. You talk about facts, but yet you distort reality to meet your argument. I tagged you as a troll as your are bias to the extreme, all the time. As if you were afraid of that car or if you were miss treated by BMW or BMW owner in the past.… Read more »
@ Franky_b Isn’t it strange the way many of us are so white/black in our comments? I never state that I “hate” the BMW i3. I do state facts that back up what I believe – and that is, there are better/smarter choices out there. In the past, I’ve always tried to note I like people who buy i3s, and I don’t prefer the little BMW, and I do realize some folks just want or feel better when they buy “a premium brand”. When I took my notes and fact to a few BMW salesmen – They didn’t disagree. In fact, they told me – and I quote: “i3 buyers buy the car because they prefer a premium brand”. This is a loaded statement – as it opens up whether it’s perception or fact…and – is it worth it to buy this premium brand and why. Oftimes in consumer goods, a premium brand may branch out and license the design to brands not known as “premium brands” and the item labeled with another brand works the same and is the same – but for the brand printed upon it. Then a sociological/psychological discussion is needed about marketing and human happiness.… Read more »

“Isn’t it strange the way many of us are so white/black in our comments?”

Lets not bring race into this. 😉

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 😀

Oh BROTHER! – I may be aging myself here, but remember Ronald Reagan in those political debates he won? – You know, on national TV, where he stated: “Now – THERE YOU GO AGAIN!”….

lol. 🙂

One issue is that you are obsessive against the i3. It’s obnoxious and off putting, not to mention counter productive (i.e., right now, I feel like liking the i3 just because you don’t), if your goal is to just inform. You also seem oblivious to your own bias. If “value” is your thing, then Tesla (for example) is not a good choice either, yet you often sing their praise. Your arguments lack congruence.

Once again, you attack me – the messenger…and don’t proffer any facts or information against the information I shared. So what does that say about you or your mental attitude towards one particular car? I disagree with your assessment of the Tesla cars. Tesla offers different pricepoints starting with the S 70 Series. In that particular market – the upper-end luxury market, the entire Tesla lin offers a far greater value, in my opinion, than anything else in those categories. Think – that is not my market. Most Tesla buyers are of an income level above mine, and possibly yours. This is not to say that in that genre, the Tesla is a superb value. In fact, if you do read what I write, you’ve heard me say that a few times. Why buy an S-Class Mercedes, for instance, or a 7-Series BMW when none of those cars can touch the Tesla in quite ride, non-use of gas, over-the-air updates that keep the car current, and a baked-in fueling network? You sound blinded somehow. I don’t believe i3 is a good value in it’s niche – period. You BMW guys oft say the i3 is “the most efficient EV”. It’s… Read more »

I just think that you are trying to rationalize your anti-BMW sentiment, and that is my opinion. Maybe you can think about it. And for the record, I bought a Volt over an i3, because I thought it offered better value, though I am under no illusion of my own rationality in this matter. The most rational choice would have been a used Kia, or something like that. (I never considered it.)

It’s fine that you prefer the Volt over the i3 – but there is a lot of stuff to take into account with a purchasing decision. Things you didn’t mention: Performance: Outside of a Tesla, the i3 is one of the best performing EVs on the market. One of the only other EVs that is RWD. It beats the Volt to 60 by 2 seconds. It has a great weight distribution, and weighs 700lbs less than a Volt – which means it is much more nimble. Some drivers prefer engagement – and are willing to pay extra for it. Efficiency: Regardless of what you say, the i3 REx will get around 4.2mi/kWh from the battery (fair weather), while the Volt will get around 3.8mi/kWh. That’s about a 10% difference in battery efficiency. Styling: This is purely subjective, but I just think the Volt looks like a vanilla Prius. And I already have a Prius. I think the i3’s styling is cooler than any other EV available except for a Tesla. Sustainability: The i3 is an exercise in what can be done to minimize environmental impact from cradle to grave. These videos posted yesterday on this site give a good overview… Read more »

If we are comparing apples to apples (i.e. Volt to i3 REx), the performance comparison is not nearly so straightforward.

The Volt is definitely faster than the i3 REx 0-30; Volt is 2.2sec in Hold mode and 2.6sec in EV mode, while the i3 REx is 3.1sec in EV mode and 3.8sec in REx mode.

However, 0-60 is more nuanced; the i3 REx in EV mode is actually tied with the Volt in Hold mode, both at 7.1sec. The Volt in EV mode is noticeably slower at 8.4sec, and then you have the i3 REx in REx mode turning in a Prius-like 13.7sec to get to 60 MPH. Ultimately, I still give the i3 REx the win here, as EV mode is the desired method of operation… but it’s not as clear-cut as you imply, and the steep drop-off of the i3 REx on gas should be accounted for.


Acceleration while on REx actually does not change when used in Hold mode. My guess is that acceleration test was done when the REx automatically kicks in at 6% SoC (admittedly I have not referenced the articles you linked to, my apologies).
The infamous loss of power at low SoC was also addressed in a software update and is not nearly as pronounced as it was in the arly days of the car.

I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you talk about “Hold mode” in the i3, as there is no such thing in the U.S.-spec i3 REx; the engine cannot be engaged until the battery is at 6% SOC, as per the CARB BEVx standard.

I guess you could make that argument if you were talking about a Euro-spec i3 REx vs. an Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, but there is no second-gen Ampera to compare to. If you’re referring to hacked car firmware, all bets are off; there’s a youtube video of a hacked 2013 Volt doing 0-60 in 5.5sec.

Yes – I am referring to functionality of the Euro-spec REx. That functionality is easily achieved on US models through a simple coding process (hacking is a misnomer). The functionality is built into the car, but disabled to be eligible for special CARB credits (why they cripple the car in the other 49 states is anyone’s guess). A good majority of US i3 owners perform this coding – and dealers have proven to be indifferent or even supportive of the practice. While I was working out the deal on mine, my salesman actually mentioned that he could help me perform the coding if I needed help.

In any case – after nearly 1000 miles in my i3 I have yet to experience the power loss that was reported in earlier models.

“Coding” and “hacking” are the same thing. You are modifying the car’s systems to deliver a feature that is not intended to be in the car; a feature that is specifically in place for regulatory reasons.

That’s literally no different than removing emissions controls to get increased performance, with the excuse of “well, this is how the car comes stock in [some other country].”

If we are going to compare aftermarket mods, again, all bets are off.

I guess I should add that I’m using the programmers’ version of “hacking” (modifying software to suit your needs) and not the pop culture version of “hacking” (illicitly gaining access to secure data).

But whether you want to call it coding, hacking, modding, or whatever… it’s still an aftermarket modification to the stock performance of the car.

I maybe being a bit pedantic, but coding in the sense I am talking about isn’t modifying the software at all – it’s just using a tool that BMW techs use to activate instructions that exist within the software already.
But I suppose you are right, it is technically a modification to the way the car was shipped to the US.

Banter or debate doesn’t bother me. I was raised by a Chevy guy ( who is now 90 and buys Chryslers! – GO FIGURE! )… Humans are funny that way. I’ve seen Reagan/Bush guys vote Clinton/Obama… We reserve the right to our opinions based upon what we know, or what we think we know — naturally. My dad used to get together with my uncle and argue Dodge vs. Chevy and my mom used to get all upset because their Irish would come out and they would call each other names and such….lol. In the end, they loved each other and it was actually, more a matter of respect and who had done the most homework. Actually, they both had good points. Since my dad was the national sales leader for Cadillac, I kind of thought his points deemed more valid…Things like the sheet steel GM used and the width and footprint of each chassis. They both had well thought out points and actually it was fun to ponder the things they said. Sometimes, as a kid, I’d look stuff up – just to see who was full of B.S., and who had their facts straight. I’m not here to… Read more »

I’d like to refer you to Motor Trends test drive and review of 2016 Volt in which they remarkably got a 0-60 time of 7.4 seconds!

Many have speculated upon this – whether it was MT’s rolling start or whether they tricked the car’s settings…but 7.4 is a nice number for Volt, yes?

James, that Motor Trend test drive you are referring to, the Volt was using both the Electric and ICE engine. In Pure EV launch, it’s over 8 seconds… again you are not wrong and yet you forgot to mention key information.

Your fact are a guy that says it good and then he is not sure? I drove the car for a year, it has a precise direction the way I like it. My 370Z had the same driving dynamic. If you prefer soft and unresponsive car, that’s ok. (See how I turn your preference in something negative, yet it is that a preference, nothing more)

You see here on this thread, Prius owners stating: “I’ve owned my Prius for two years and average 56MPG”….or, “2nd gen Prius with a lifetime average of 46MPG…” Yet very few are there of analysts who track every single gas tank since day 1. So mostly, they’re averaging and going from memory. There’s also that pesky detail of e than one family member driving the car – and accounting for their trip meter resets and driving styles. I get what they’re saying. Presently in over 50degree F temps up to high 70degree days I can milk 57 and have even milked 63MPG from our 2007 Prius ( and that’s the Touring Edition which has one inch larger diameter wheels which are wider – known to reduce MPG by approx. 3MPG! My wife hovers around 40-43MPG when she’s not impatient or in a hurry. Together – sharing the car’s duties I logged several gas tanks where we both resulted in a good 42MPG. Yet you have to know I milk it. Someone above said they kind of consider it fun, milking more mileage. In 2007-’09 I d too. It was new technology and it changed the way I drive. Since it… Read more »

As I cited above, even in pure EV mode the Volt is quicker than the i3 in 0-30.

It’s also worth mentioning that while the Volt gets a small performance boost while on gas, the i3 takes a huge performance hit (to the point of unsafe highway speeds) when on the same.

And when you say unsafe, you are speaking from your own experience? Because from my experience (one year driving), it isn’t.

If comments on this website were limited to [i]only cars we have personally driven at length[/i], the comment section would be pretty barren.

Multiple outlets have reported their car slowing down to 40-45 MPH on the freeway while under REx power. I consider that an unsafe speed. You are free to disagree.

Ok… go read this instead… I talk about the REX in detail, what it can and can’t do and one thing it can do is drive at highway speed (65-70 mph) no problem.

Yes, some people experienced the reduced power, but when you read further, they were in extreme condition and/or were trying to make it fail. So stop copy/pasting, go read, and get over it.

Not here to argue either – and at no point did I call you a fool.
Regarding the performance test against a hot-hatch: Comparing performance between the i3 and a conventional hot hatch is a fine test, but completely misses the point I made. I am comparing performance against of the EVs/HEVs. I mean, I could set a Volt on a track against a 335i and it would get tromped as well.
All I’m saying as you have to understand that some people have different priorities and preferences that make the i3 a compelling offering. Belittling them, insulting their intelligence, or questioning their reasoning does nothing but hurt the advancement of EVs in general.

Seems a bit unfair to lump all HEVs together, and all PHEVs together. The Prius is by far the best HEV that’s widely sold… the old Honda Insight was perhaps even better, but Honda didn’t sell it for long.

Likewise, the Volt stands alone among PHEVs; it has roughly twice the electric range of even the best of the rest.

Comparing specific vehicles is worthwhile. And of course it’s better to drive a Volt than a Prius, since an average of 71% of the Volts’ miles are electricity-powered miles, whereas 100% of the Prius’ miles are gasoline powered. No contest at all.

But compare one of the tiny-ranged PHEVs to the Prius, and the Prius wins hands down. Unfortunately, there are a great number of PHEV models with an electric range of less than 20 miles. And that’s even worse than it appears, since with that small a battery pack, the car has to rev up the gas motor every time the car is called on for real power, such as accelerating to highway speed, climbing a hill/mountain, or passing another car on a two-lane highway.


I agree with you 100%. Being Prius and the Prius family of cars are the pioneers ( along with Honda Insight v.1 ) and the king of all hybrids based upon sales and performance – it would be the natural target of all comparisons.

GM really is onto something in the hybrid niche – with 2016 Malibu Hybrid. Makes sense to use Voltec components on less expensive non-plugin hybrid products. When an Impala-sized 4 door sedan can be EPA rated at 47MPG Combined – that is a very attractive proposition to many buyers. Can’t see HSD in that size of car producing such numbers.

Gladly, following Toyota’s lead – Filling out the GM model lines with Voltec HEV options provides the economies of scale that make affordable BEVs and PHEV/EREVs with larger battery packs and range a reality.

Can’t wait to see Cadillac CT-6 actual performance numbers.

Thanks for mentioning the ‘clasic’ Honda Insight. My wife is devoted to our faithful little car. We’re on our lucky 13th year and second battery. It keeps starting and driving (like a little go-kart;)
I’m so ready to move on to SOMETHING with a plug, myself. For her, it’s a sin to sell a car that still runs!

Yawn…not to kick a horse when it is down but….
yeah the Prius that I rented recently was slow, light, noisy and had a high center of gravity. For my use, my oftened dogged (on this page anyway)Ford Focus Electric (due to its range and cargo capacity), has superior handling, is blast to drive, is all green with Washington hydro power, and has plenty of range. It was inexpensive and is twice the car a Prius is. It isn’t even in the same league to be frank.
BEVs are inevitable guys and my car isn’t even best in class – come to grips and leave the gas alone.

Hey Nonda – are you a Puget Power customer – or Seattle City Light…or another power company?

Reason I asked is – Puget Power is by far the largest electric utility in western Washington. I was like you – always quoting that my energy was mostly clean hydropower…That is, until a friend sent me Seattle Times and other articles revealing that our electricity from Puget Power is mostly from a Montana Coal Plant!!!! Imagine that! – With all this clean hydropower around us, Puget Sound Energy prefers to help maintain and purchase energy from – a Montana coal “dirty” coal plant!

Look it up – don’t take it from me. You may be as astonished as I was.

Dang it! “Puget Power” is now Puget Sound Energy….

aha…I’m aging myself…again!… It’s been Puget Sound Energy for what…about 20 years?….( sigh )

Anyway, Nonda – good thing you don’t have a Honda…you could have Nonda’s Honda! Consumer Reports’ early review ( impression more than a review ) of the 2016 Volt states on the video that they don’t feel it’s a dog, but that they feel it doesn’t handle as spritely as Focus EV or BMW i3… I have never driven a Focus EV, but I know I can disagree with them over i3, as I felt it’s on-center handling and quick steering was unsettling as most of us like a nice on-center steadiness, not “steering” the car constantly on long highway pulls…Also, the narrow tires on i3 give it a quick dartiness many identify with as “good handling”. I call it “quick dartiness”…

Bad things about Focus EV is that it’s a very low production compliance car – and…like all 80 mile EVs, cannot shed the local commuter car, range-anxiety issue.

Interesting – yeah I looked it up – 31% coal – that is a shock to me. It does get more energy from hydro than any other sources however:

California has only 6% coal but 44.5% Natural gas which is higher than Washington and it has a total renewable less than washington

As far as the handling – yeah I am not a big freeway driver so the twitchiness and responsiveness is something I enjoy on the roads I mostly drive on.

Thanks for your insights!

From 36% coal in 2010. Here is “A Tale Of Two Electrical Outlets”. One in my town, the other in the town next door at the north end of Lake Washington.

Here is the Seattle Times – one year ago, Nov, 2014:

I second the notion of others that the combined 56 MPG won’t work for measuring a long trip. You have to use the highway MPG number, which is less than 56 MPG.

The other key piece of information is that for most drivers, over 90% of their driving is on trips of less than 100 miles.

….so basically you are saying that less than 10% of the time you may use less fuel in a Prius…

ABSOLUTELY Love that our Volt is averaging 85 mpg after 3 years of use. We thought it would be better than a Prius, and it is! plus, as stated above, the Volt is fun to drive. To fill the void until battery tech grows, the Volt is the best choice! BTW, reading that 2017 Leaf will be 300 mile battery, that changes everything!

scroll, and scroll summore..

I guess I’m just a weird anomaly. My Fusion Energi ‘only’ gets ~20 miles on her battery, but work is 19 from home and we have ‘free’ charging at work. So for 36,000 miles I’m running 88% electric and a lifetime average of 101.3 MPGe.

I get 2000 to 4800 miles per tank of gas. 12 tanks over the last 30 months. 🙂