Toyota Prius Prime Tops Automotive Performance Index Study

JUN 5 2018 BY WADE MALONE 36

The Toyota Prius Prime earns the Automotive Science Group’s Best All-Around Performance crown. Tesla, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai and Kia plug-ins also honored.

The Automotive Science Group (ASG) conducted their yearly study assessing efficiency and cost to determine this year’s best vehicles. In calculating CO2 emissions, ASG takes into consideration raw material extraction, the manufacturing process, fuel efficiency, and the vehicle’s end-of-life. This year the Toyota Prius Prime took home the Best All-Around Performance Car and Best Environmental Performance Car of 2018.

Launched internationally in 2000, the original Toyota Prius boasted 41 MPG. Impressive for its time, the Prius held 295 grams CO2-e emissions per mile driven over its lifetime.  Today, the most efficient non-plug-in Prius is the Prius Two Eco. That model increases efficiency to 56 MPG and 226 grams CO2-e emissions per mile.

While this is an impressive improvement, it pales in comparison to the plug-in hybrid Prius Prime. The Prime features 133 MPG-e and 25-miles of electric range. Based on the CO2 lifetime emission study conducted by ASG, the Prime holds a mere 181 grams CO2-e emissions per mile driven over it’s life. This accounts for a 39% improvement over the original Prius. For comparison, the smallest carbon footprint for a non-electrified powertrain was the Mitsubishi Mirage at 301 grams CO2-e per mile.

While many EV enthusiasts would likely value electric range above all else, the Prime won out over some tough plug-in competition for the top efficiency award. It also bested other traditional hybrid and small cars such as the Mitsubishi Mirage, Chevrolet Spark, Toyota Yaris, and Toyota Prius Eco.

However, while the Prime took top honors for 2018, it was far from the only plug-in represented. The Tesla Model XBMW i3, Ford Focus ElectricHyundai IONIQ PHEV, Kia Niro PHEV, and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid all won Best Environmental Performance in their respective vehicle categories.

The Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV all earned Best 5 distinctions. Tesla was also awarded the Best Environmental Performance Brand of 2018.

Toyota Prius Plug-In (Prius Prime)
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Source: Automotive Science Group

Categories: Toyota

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36 Comments on "Toyota Prius Prime Tops Automotive Performance Index Study"

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mx9000

The range is insufficient as a plug-in hybrid. This is disappointing coming from Toyota.
You expect more from Toyota.
This is almost as if they paid to win this.

David Murray

I own one of these and find the range to be plenty.

vik

I thought you owned a Volt and an i3, by the way the reviews you did on them were awesome, are you planning to review the Prius as well? My only concern with this car is the underwhelming power and range, compared to say the Chevy volt, or Honda Clarity PHEV which seem pretty available in my area. Is there any specific reason you opted for the Prime?

David Murray

We still have the i3 and the Volt. We also have a Fiat 500e. I bought the Prime to rent out on Turo. However, I have also driven it plenty myself. I wouldn’t necessarily pick it as a car for myself. But it’s a very nice car. My main gripe is the slow acceleration. But I’ve found the range to be adequate.

Will

Something is not right. On his front reviews he had i3 Rex and volt. The other day he said he had two i3s now he says he has a Prime🤔

David Murray

I have all of those cars. I rent EVs out on Turo. So most of the time they aren’t here, but I do technically own them.

Viking79

This includes total environmental performance of constructing the car. The Tesla S or X are not cheap vehicles and will take more energy to produce, and more carbon footprint in production.

So even though the PP only has a 25 mile electric range, it will maintain a smaller carbon footprint for much of its life, though the Model S might surpass it given enough miles.

Unfortunately, Toyotas hybrid sales are still falling. People moving from a regular Prius to a PP or full EV aren’t reducing their carbon footprint much. Getting everyone to even efficient hybrids would dramatically drop carbon footprint.

philip d
In the short term as a frozen snapshot in time without any trend context that would be true. But the grid is getting cleaner and cleaner every year while regular ICE and plain hybrid efficiencies have tapered. I also find it fishy and don’t understand why their list only includes the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV and not their pure EV which not only never uses gas ever unlike the Prius Prime but it also bests the Prius Prime’s 133 mpge with a rating of 136 mpge. Sure the battery is larger and has a larger production footprint but surely over 150,000 miles it makes up for it. Also the Model 3 is absent which is rated at 130 mpge which is lower by 3 mpge than the Prius Prime but again over it’s 150,000 miles it will use zero gasoline. I would like to see the drive cycle they are using to determine the operational efficiency of each car. If they are assuming a drive cycle that allows the Prius Prime to use its battery 99% of the time then yes it will come in on top. But 25 miles electric range is not even the average miles driven per day… Read more »
cr08

This first bit so many lose sight of. Even PHEV’s with a high ratio of pure EV usage will end up getting cleaner and cleaner as grid power sources change. Even better if the user has solar power at home providing a large chunk or all of their power, that is all totally clean energy going straight into the car. ICEs and non-plug-in hybrids cannot even dream of being able to do this. Fossil fuels are essentially stuck or MAYBE can achieve very marginal improvements over time but that’s it.

philip d

I was attempting to reply to your comment and for some reason it says “comment awaiting moderation”. It’s just text with no links or extensions.

Steven Loveday

Should be fixed now.

Taylor Marks

It seems like it’d be much better if they gave two numbers for each car instead of just one. Give us the base amount for construction, then the efficiency per mile… although maybe that’s just equal to MPGe, so maybe just give us the base amount for construction.

john1701a

I just passed 1,000 miles on this latest tank of gas with my Prime. It only reads 1/8 used.

In no way can that be deemed insufficient.

Robert Weekley

John, most of my own workplace coworkers, of which I know, drive in excess of 25 Miles / 40 Kms, each way to work, so… No.

The range is sufficient for my commute, some of my grocery shopping, and a fraction of my extra trips, and next to nothing of my road trips, which are where my real miles are added! (Assuming daily, or near daily, recharging.)

So, the next question to ask is, of all my annual driving, vs a Long Range Model 3, what are the numbers for a break even on the cost difference? Or, how much (How Little?) Gas would it use for a trip like I just recently did, of about 2,700 mile / 4,300 Kms over 11 days, Torinto to Florida Panhandle (Panama City Beach)?

john1701a

67.9 MPG from my 31.5 mile drive today without any electricity at all. So, even when the engine runs, overall results are well over 200 MPG…which is quite sufficient.

Bob

Yes, I agree. 25 miles hardly qualifies it as a plugin. Does it come with an extension cord?

Sparkinator

Toyota is squeezing the last of its fame from this green-badging effort. Ultimately, their slow move to BEV solutions will cost them a lot more than the lead they have already lost. It is becoming painfully obvious that these dual drive systems are emmensley complex, requiring more maintenance and exposing much greater vulnerbility to break down. It’s sad when you think of where all of us and Toyota would be right now if they took the lead in the move to BEV back in 2011, instead of wasting all the time, money, and credibility on fool-cell technology. This would have been a great car back in 2008.

menorman

Toyota Priuses aren’t exactly known as maintenance hogs, even with well past 100k miles on the odometer.

Tom

It would seem bullet proof reliability. Tax drivers everywhere attest to this.

Bill Howland

Toyota seems to be an excellent car company. I’ve never personally owned a Toyota (new or used), but have seen plenty of friends’ cars. I was initially impressed years ago when I saw, on a very low-priced Corolla, they put a Corrosion Resistant plasticized coating on all the brake lines – something not even done with my Expensive Buick Riviera at the time. Of course, in time, it was my Buick that needed an expensive brake job – *NOT* the Toyota.

Why would people here let the ‘good’ be the enemy of the ‘perfect’? If all cars got 25 miles of range electrically every day, that would decimate gasoline consumption in the US. And, the Prius Prime is fantastic when it comes to gasoline engine efficiency – only large central station machines are much better.

And they are offering the “Prime” at an attractive price. I personally prefer the Honda Clarity PHEV overall, but that is not to knock Toyota.

philip d
I find it fishy and don’t understand why their list only includes the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV and not their pure EV which not only never uses gas ever unlike the Prius Prime but it also bests the Prius Prime’s 133 mpge with a rating of 136 mpge. Sure the battery is larger and has a larger production footprint but surely over 150,000 miles it makes up for it. Also the Model 3 is absent which is rated at 130 mpge which is lower by 3 mpge than the Prius Prime but again over it’s 150,000 miles it will use zero gasoline. I would like to see the drive cycle they are using to determine the operational efficiency of each car. If they are assuming a drive cycle that allows the Prius Prime to use its battery 99% of the time then yes it will come in on top. But 25 miles electric range is not even the average miles driven per day by the average person. If you take into account the average daily miles driven by the average American for example then the Prius Prime would use battery power for around 70-75% of daily miles and 25-30% of daily… Read more »
philip d

I would also want to know the grid mix they are using for electric miles driven. If they use a mix that is more heavily leaning toward fossil fuel usage then the efficiency weight of electric miles driven by any PHEV or EV will be pulled down closer to the efficiency weight of gas miles driven. This could also account for why the Prime would do better against pure EVs. It would water down the value of the all electric miles driven.

philip d

This is some of their methodology listed on their website. It makes me even more confused.

“We concluded a new passenger vehicle will be driven an average 227,200 miles over its lifetime.”
“We also assume new passenger vehicles are driven an average of 13,476 miles per year (FHWA, 2016) over the first 6.5 years”

So from their yearly listed miles that would come out to somewhere in the 40-50 miles driven daily. This would mean that the Prius Prime is travelling half of its miles on gas in the 55 mpg range and half in the 133 mpge range. Again the Ioniq EV would be travelling all at 136 mpge.

Next at 227.200 lifetime miles travelling at around half or less of those on gas at ~55 mpg how in the world could production and other factors of the Ioniq EV outweigh all those gasoline emissions from the Prius. It just doesn’t add up.

wavelet

I’m not going to bother reading their website, but there seem to be a lot of inconsistencies here. For one, 227200 lifetime miles and 13476 avg. mi/year means they claim a car stays on the road for ~17 years. The numbers I know say it’s something like 11-12 years, and old cars are used as beaters, doing very little mileage.

philip d

This also skews the results against pure BEVs since the larger packs built in BEV battery production have a larger proportional production impact compared to that of a PHEV.

“The end-of-life phase provides opportunities to remove environmental burdens through efficient recovery and recycling of critical metals, precious metals, rare earth metals and plastics that can offset impacts associated with primary production, as previously discussed. However, in our 2018 Vehicle Model, we removed end-of-life assessments to better align with our VMT assumptions, described in the Average Vehicle Miles Traveled section below.”

So in their study BEVs take a hit in their production phase for producing more energy intensive battery packs but then aren’t allowed to recycle them at end of life. Their study just assumes they go into a landfill and all new raw materials are used for the next batch.

philip d
Below quotes are all from the Automotive Science Groups page. So to recap they claim to be counting all cradle to grave inputs of emissions but from the below excepts of their study it appears that they aren’t counting end of life recycling (1.) and aren’t counting all operational miles emissions over the life of the vehicle, even though they mention lifetime miles of cars today are 227,200, but are instead using 87,594 miles for their operational impact (2.) 1. Under END OF LIFE GER: “The end-of-life phase provides opportunities to remove environmental burdens through efficient recovery and recycling of critical metals, precious metals, rare earth metals and plastics that can offset impacts associated with primary production, as previously discussed. (EMPHASIS) However, in our 2018 Vehicle Model, we removed end-of-life assessments to better align with our VMT assumptions, described in the Average Vehicle Miles Traveled section below. 2. Under FUEL MODEL: ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE AVERAGE VEHICLE MILES TRAVELED: ” With new car buyers continuing a trend of driving their vehicles longer, the average length of ownership is now at 79 months (IHS Markit). By combing the FHWA average annual VMT, and the IHS Markit average length of vehicle ownership, we assumed… Read more »
wavelet

So, their analysis is crap. Why am I not surprised, given they decided they had to have “science” in their name?
Thanks for taking the time to look into this.

Wade (Tyhon) Malone

You bring up some good points.

I don’t believe they’ve published all of their findings yet, at least they hadn’t at the time I wrote the story. More data and graphs are supposed to be made available later this month from ASG.

Pure battery electrics have topped the list in the past, and the majority of the winners this year are EVs and PHEVs. But the Prime may just happen to have the perfect build to perform well under their testing scenario.

https://insideevs.com/2016-nissan-leaf-tops/

Of course no matter what their final data shows, your driving habits may not match up with their testing procedures. Personally, I know that I would drive a lot less electric miles in a Prime than I currently do in our family Volt/Bolt or in our future Model 3.

So YMMV as they say! 🙂

ModernMarvelFan

Who the heck is ASG?

Steven Loveday

Automotive Science Group

PriusPHV

Have been driving with Prime or Prius PHV as it is called in Europe for bit more than year. Ultra reliable car with extraordinary high gas mileage. To the person who commutes less than 20 – 25 miles per day (90 % in our country) – you end up driving +80 % of your time using only EV mode (like us) and in long road trips you can drive +70 MPG in real life. I think it is pretty good compromise.. I am also very confident that Toyota is totally capable of producing all available powertrains based on market demand whether it is mass market EV, Fuelcell or (plug-in)hybrid – they have all the tech in place already

Wade (Tyhon) Malone

That’s great to hear, I’m glad you’re loving your Prime/PHV! I’ve met several people who purchased the prime as their first ever plug-in. Much like Volt owners, they game-ify and take pride in eeking out as many EV miles as possible from their cars.

The low entry price and high gas mileage make it a great low risk, high reward vehicle for those not quite ready to jump all in on a BEV or a more expensive PHEV like the Volt or Clarity.

With my 45-ish mile commute and regular trips to neighboring cities, it is not the PHEV for me. But I’m really happy to see people embracing the prime and I hope it makes them EV-ers for life!

msantos

Not surprised at all.

I’ve owned my Prius Prime advanced (2018 Canadian trim level) for almost 3 months and still have the same tank of gas as delivered by the dealer. So far almost 3,000km on 99.3% EV driving.

While it may not be enough for a good number of folks I know, its range is plenty for me. The displayed range after a full pack is reading at 60 Km (37 miles) which in a city of 1 million inhabitants would also be more than adequate for the majority of commuters like me.

Despite having owned many hybrids for more than 15 years – and still own a 2014 model S, I regard the Prius Prime as a very surprising and excellent choice for folks who can benefit from its many qualities. It’s too bad my Model S experience has not been as good as I hoped. 🙁

Prsnep

Why has your Model S experience not been as good as you hoped?

msantos

Mostly “quality” and service related issues along with general driveability (RWD only) during the winter months remain my top concerns.

GSP

“Best all around performance car?” ROFLMAO! I bet Porsche, Tesla, Corvette, and Ferrari owners are hiding in fear. 😀

“Best environmental performance?” This award should have gone to a pure electric car.

GSP