The Toyota Prius Plug-In certainly isn’t the most hotly anticipated electric car out there. (That is obviously either the Tesla Model X or Tesla Model 3.) In fact, it’s got to be one of the least anticipated. The fact is, the original Toyota Prius Plug-In has one of the worst electric-only ranges on the market (11 miles / 18 kilometers). Wait a second, that’s the worst electric-only range on the market! It’s slightly worse than the Honda Accord Plug-In and even worse than the BMW i8 sports car. And to make matters worse, it couldn’t even go more than 6 miles on the EPA test cycle without jumping to power from the gasoline engine. It’s practically a conventional hybrid, which certainly doesn’t excite plug-in car fans.
Meanwhile, Toyota has been spreading more anti-EV FUD than the oil industry. Seriously. And it has been promoting its lame Mirai fuel cell vehicle as if it somehow competes with a battery-electric car. (LOL.)
So, yeah, not many of us were on the edge of our seats to find out more details about the next-generation Toyota Prius Plug-In.
But some news is out, and it’s half-decent. For one, the electric-only range is reportedly going to be 30–35 miles, which is likely to beat — or at least tie — most other plug-in hybrids on the market (and there are a lot hitting the market these days).
While production of the 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-In ended last month, production of the next-gen Toyota Prius Plug-In isn’t expected until the second half of 2016.
As much as I’d be willing to bash Toyota and the Prius Plug-In for hours, though, there are some points that could probably be taken as a positive. The Prius Plug-In was one of the top-selling electric vehicles in the US and worldwide for awhile (look at the first 3 charts there). While most automakers were content to only sell their compliance cars in California and perhaps a few other markets, Toyota made the Prius Plug-in much more widely available — in fact, it was consistently near the top of the podium in Europe… for awhile. My guess is that dealers were often willing to up-sell customers on the Prius Plug-In who were coming in for the supremely popular conventional hybrid Prius. And with the Plug-In really behaving more like a conventional hybrid than other plug-in cars, the difference really wasn’t huge.
As I said, those points could be seen as positive. However, with the Prius Plug-In being one of the worst ambassadors (if not the worst) of plug-in cars, I’m not so sure of the net effect. But if Toyota is willing to produce and sell a 2016 Prius Plug-In with much more electric range, that could be quite exciting — at least, when doing my EV sales reports.
But when it comes down to it, the first-generation Volt had 38 miles of electric-only range, and it could drive on that up until the battery ran dry. The next-generation 2016 Chevy Volt will have 50 miles of electric-only range, and will actually cost a little less than the original. Why not get a good deal on a used Volt or buy the 2016 model instead of wasting your time on a late-to-the-party Toyota?
Or just go 100% electric!