Plug-In Prius Projected to Beat Volt Fuel Mileage

Toyota has upped its fuel-efficiency projection for its Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV), according to Bloomberg, which reports the automaker expects to top the Volt in its U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating.

Toyota’s U.S. Group Vice President Bob Carter, said the Plug-In Prius (AKA PIP) should manage 50 mpg in hybrid mode for combined city/ highway mileage, and earn 95 MPGe assuming its 4.4-kwh lithium-ion battery is recharged frequently.

“It’s still an estimate, but we are confident it’s going to be 95,” Carter said of Toyota’s projection Tuesday. The EPA rating will be known “in a couple weeks,” he said.

In comparison, the extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt can go more than 25-50 miles on a charge or so, is rated at 37 mpg combined, and 94 MPGe when relying mostly on battery power.

Toyota’s news represents an increase from a September estimate of 49/87. Satoshi Ogiso, chief engineer for Toyota’s Prius models, said the higher estimate follows further battery pack testing and additional newly developed “control programs.”

But before Prius fans get too excited, GM Spokesman Rob Peterson said driving conditions further separate the PIP from the Volt.

“The big difference here is in real-world conditions,” Peterson told Bloomberg. “The Volt’s ability to go all-electric at all speeds for 25 to 50 miles allows most drivers to commute on electricity only.”

The PIP has an electric-only mode top speed of 62 mph compared to the Volt’s top all-electric speed of 100 mph.

“At any point in time that a Prius driver exceeds 62 mph, their gas engine goes on,” Peterson said.

What’s more on average Volt drivers are filling their gas tanks but once a month, Peterson said.

For the PIP’s first year, Toyota aims to sell 15,000, compared to 45,000 year-two Volts.

But as you’ve also no doubt noticed, Toyota has a huge head start in gas-electric vehicles, and dominates in the hybrid market segment, occupying more than half of U.S. hybrid sales with its Prius line. The regular Prius, now called the third-generation “Liftback” has loomed large with over half of the limited hybrid car market.

Counting Prius v sales, the year-end total for the Prius line was 136,463 units sold compared to the next in line, Lexus (another Toyota brand) CT 200h, which sold 14,381 in 2011.

Toyota has chosen to lump all Prius sales numbers into one category, and it is projecting all four Prius models combined to account for 220,000 U.S. sales in 2012.

The company is now demoted to third overall in global sales, however, following disastrous effects from the March earthquake and tsunami.

GM has regained this spot, followed by Volkswagen, with Toyota following.

More Hybrid News...

  • JD

    < "The PIP has an electric-only mode top speed of 62 mph compared to the Volt’s top all-electric speed of 100 mph. “At any point in time that a Prius driver exceeds 62 mph, their gas engine goes on,” Peterson said. What’s more on average Volt drivers are filling their gas tanks but once a month, Peterson said.”>

    GM’s Mr Peterson, forgot to mention when the Volt goes past 62 MPH, it’s battery will be depleted quickly(just like turning on the AC and cranking up the sound system) and the ICE will have to kick in with a crummy 35 MPG. Add the cost of the Volt and this is a no win situation.

  • DownUnder

    Well done both GM and Toyota.
    Consumers will have the last words.

  • hybridhybrid

    “The PIP has an electric-only mode top speed of 62 mph compared to the Volt’s top all-electric speed of 100 mph.

    “At any point in time that a Prius driver exceeds 62 mph, their gas engine goes on,” Peterson said.

    So what are you trying to say? Encourage volt drivers to drive 100mph? 62 mph (~100 km/h) is the average cruising speed on the highway and that is good enough.

  • usbseawolf2000

    Volt’s battery would run out in 15 mins @85 mph. 25 mins @75 mph. 35 mins @65 mph. The recharge time is 10 hours.

    It is better to use gas above 62 mph and use the battery for city around town traffic. If you are going to use both fuels anyway, you are better off with a car that’s optimized for both.

  • Chris C.

    I CAN NOT WAIT until people start to actually get into this PIPs and FEEL how different the driving experience is from a Volt. The PIP is going to wheeze down the road, or that gas engine is going to light up at the drop of a hat (or a twitch of your right foot). 62 MPH? Uh huh, sure. Can’t wait.

  • usbseawolf2000

    Chris, I take it that you have not driven the Prius PHV and just guessing from how the no-plug Prius behaves.

    Using the gas engine for high power and high speed is great. It shorten the recharge time and get more EV range because the gas engine filters out the unwanted miles.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Chris,

    I guess I forgot how the Volt is itself a speed demon (oh wait it’s not) or how it seats 5 people (oh wait it can’t) or how how it has more cargo capacity then the Prius (oh wait it doesn’t) or how the Volt fully recharges in less than 2 hours (oh wait it can’t) or how it’s gas engine exceeds the MPG’s set by the Prius (oh wait it doesn’t).

    Just sayin’…

  • Seek

    But it must be fast. It uses premium gas.

  • Van

    Comparing the PIP with the ZIP seems a tad premature. But $32,000 does seem quite a lot more reasonable that $42,000. If we apply the tax rebate, then $29,000 seems quite a lot more reasonable than $35,000.

    Next we have the fires that government motors claims the government safety guys are seeing as a non-problem.

    Next, 600 mile range versus 300 mile range.

    Next 5 passenger verses 4 passenger.

    We need to compare performance, ride, handling and acceleration once CR does a test article.

    My prediction, the PIP outsells the ZIP 10 to 1.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    Can’t compare the PIP with the Volt as the PIP doesn’t drive in EV mode in as many conditions and I couldn’t make the 16 mile one way trip to work in the PIP with the smaller battery. I’ve used 7.5 gallons the first 4,300 miles in my Volt. I can’t imagine doing anywhere near that with the PIP. Non of the plug-ins drive in pure EV yet like the Volt. They’ll be coming though. Competition is good.


  • JD

    For around town like you are doing the Volt is fine. Problem is you go anywhere for distance you’re dead meat. 10 hours to charge and a crummy 35 MPG on 91 Premium when you can’t, really sucks. At least the PIP can do two round trips to Vegas(from LA) on one tank full of 87 UL. For what you are doing with the Volt, you’d be better off with the Nissan Leaf. Instead of 7.5 gallons for 4300 miles, you’d get 0 gallons for tooling around town.

  • Dan Akerson GM CEO

    “We commonly refer to the geek-mobile as the Prius,” he said. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Prius.”

  • Jerry

    Leave it to the CEO of “Government Motors” to bring mean spirited comments to the debate. Last time I checked, the standard Prius was outselling the Chevy Volt by a very very wide margin. The new plug in Prius will likely expand the lead even more.

    Focus on great cars GM, not dumb trash talk.

  • usbseawolf2000

    If Prius plugin is more fuel efficient than the Volt, why is the Volt getting 3x more tax credit, despite being a 4 seater compact?

    I know it is based on the battery size. Just point out that efficiency should have been considered. This is a huge loophole in the current plugin tax credit. Fisker Karma rated 52 MPGe on electricity and 20 MPG on gas also get 3x more tax credit than 95 MPGe / 50 MPG Prius PHV.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    There’s only one thing the Volt can do that the PIP can’t do. And that’s drive in EV mode for a longer distance and at higher speeds. Ok, that’s two things.

    No one is going to race their PIP or Volt on a track. Neither car is built for top speed racing, slaloming, 60-0 or 0-60 times. So let’s get past that part.

    As far as utility goes this is where I think the PIP has the leg up on the Volt. The PIP can seat 5, can hold more cargo and has longer total range than the Volt. And I totally forgot about the Volt needing premium 91gas. What’s so special about the Volt’s 4-cylinder engine that it requires premium gas and then return a mediocre 37 mpg vs. the PIP’s 51 mpg rating?

    A trip to my grandfathers house would mean the Volt would use 6.01 gallons of gas MORE than the PIP. I subtracted the 50 EV only miles for the Volt and 16 miles off for the PIP with no recharging at my grandfathers house (I think asking to recharge at someones house who is taking you in for the weekend is a little tacky). So only one full charge was accounted for.

    I’d be willing to give the PIP a try, but the price range is outside my budget and I’m perfectly fine with my 2nd gen Prius. It averages 47 mpg during the fall and winter months (9/22 – 3/20) and 51 mpg during the spring and summer months (3/21 – 9/21).

    The best I’ve done in EV mode in my 2nd gen is 0.8 miles at 40 mph (that’s the speed limit on that road) on my commute to and from work. That’s weak compared to the Volt or PIP, but I keep trying for that 1 mile mark. I just can’t get to that part of the road on a fully charged battery. Maybe one day in the warmer months I’ll be able to do it.

    Like MrEnergyCzar said, “More competition is good.”

    The Volt just isn’t my cup of tea…

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ MrEnergyCzar,

    Interesting. How come you can’t compare the PIP to the Volt? They’re the same type of vehicle. Both can be plugged in to recharge the battery and both can drive in EV only, ICE only and both. But saying they can’t be compared because one has a longer EV range is a little ridiculous. I would expect that from a GM spokesperson. I hope you’re not a GM spokesperson.

    It would be like saying you can’t compare a 2012 Nissan GT-R to a 2012 Ferrari 458 because the Nissan has a better 0-60 time.

    And why in this article is a GM spokesperson commenting on a Toyota product and it’s specs? That’s just absurd! Of course a GM spokes person will downplay their competition.

  • AP

    I would expect the Prius to get better electric-only fuel economy, because it is lighter, partly because it has a smaller (lighter) battery that limits its range.

    For an article that compares the PIP to a Volt, it seems odd that it left out the PIP’s range. Getting better efficiency doesn’t count for as much when you can only go a few miles before the engine kicks in. Your need to know both MPGe and electric range to compare.

    I think these cars are two different animals.

    Full disclosure: I am a GM employee, but I try to make my comments as a citizen interested in taking a smart and practical approach to high efficiency and low pollution.

  • Chuck

    No you would not be caught dead in a Prius because Toyota has SAFETY IN MIND and has TESTED EVERY vehicle manufactured for a minimum of two years on the road in all walks of the country……and has placed PHV’s on the road since the 2010 model came out the ONE THAT carries 1/2 of the sales in US for the last 10 years… can GM compare NEVER….the technology a TOYOTA has is so far advanced its such a joke…..and besides you would not have to make the choice between a Prius or Volt since the Volt has a reputation of lighting up on impact…..give the Prius the CREDIT it deserves…I never liked the looks of the Prius until I purchased the 2010 model and since in then my mpg has been minimum of 56 mpg and YES I have ordered a Prius since early 2011 and guess what the wait is almost over….GUARANTEED I WILL GET 100 plus mpg if I charge often…..TOYOTA IS THOROUGH AND HAS NEVER MISLEAD the public….GMS….FORDS…..always claim higher true mileage that never proves to be the truth………TOYOTA RULES……………… get a lot with a Toyota believe me…………

  • hybridhybrid

    PIP vs volt

    29000 vs 35000 after tax rebate

    i wonder how far you need to drive before the 6000 is paid up

    and as mentioned in my previous comments, the volt has a much bigger battery pack so when the battery is dead, the $$$ to replace that battery compared to the PIP needs to be added to the equation.

    and there are times when long distance drive are made where the volt is burning more premium gas than the PIP

    so in total, how much do you actually save with the volt? pretty much none, or even negative (means you lose money)

  • hybridhybrid

    oh and to those who are driving volt, don’t forget, you still need to pay your electricity bills

  • AP

    Chuck, not liking GM is one thing, but let’s not exaggerate by saying the Volt “has a reputation of lighting up on impact.” That’s just not true. There were two fires that happened weeks after a government test.

    hybridhybrid, many of your arguments are the reasons people don’t buy a hybrid (expensive battery to replace, no payback vs. a conventional car, etc.). So I have seen it said many times here that the payback isn’t the point – it’s the environment. And true, you do have to pay your electric bill, but it is cheaper than the gas you would have burned instead.

    Personally I think the fuel-savings payback IS important, so I don’t drive a hybrid – at least not yet.

  • JD

    This is exactly the defensive response I expected from a GM CEO trying to prop up the Woeful Volt. There was a road test for range by Autoweek back in April 2011. The test focused on the Volt on what is the real range on one charge of the batteries and then with the ICE only. I remember Autoweek got a total range of 330 miles (40 miles EV/ 290 miles ICE- 91 Premium Unleaded). Impressive as that may sound, a Toyota PIP was used as a chase/support vehicle which at the end of the 330 miles, the Toyota PIP had a quarter tank left of gas (87-UL). The Toyota PIP had to get gas for the Volt so that it could limp into the gas station. Remind you the Toyota depleted its battery in 15 miles and ICE’d it until the Volt ran out of gas, carrying the support equipment. 2.5 Gallons at 50 MPG means the Toyota PIP had about 125 miles left.

    Autoweek was very complimentary to the GM Volt, so don’t get a hissy fit!

    Myself, I wouldn’t buy the Volt. My opinion its a piece of junk. So Mr. GM CEO, watch out for the Prius C, because it is going to eat the Volt’s lunch if the the one month sales in Japan are any indication.

  • hybridhybrid


    it depends on what kind of hybrid you are talking about. i’m driving a hybrid and it is a regular base prius 3 (non-plug in). the price is roughly the same as a gay jeep and it is pretty well equipped (~30k CAD with all tax in). and the price of a new prius non-plug in battery pack is around $3000. but you can get a used one for as less as $600. i can live with that.

    the price of the PIP battery pack, roughly $8000. life around 160000 km. volt pack cost roughly $15000. life roughly 160000km.

    no we are not debating hybrid vs ICE car. we are debating PIP vs volt – which one can save you more money.

    environment? what environment? with those silly pick up trucks and dirty buses and those gay jeeps puffing around, what can a few electric car do to save the environment? wake up and live with reality. the purpose people buy hybrid is to save money on gas not the environment.

    and if you wanna start the topic of ford fiesta/toyota yaris/honda fit/chevy sonic/hyundai elantra vs prius/other hybrids, forget about it. they are completely different class of vehicles.

  • Stephen Donaldson

    The price of a Volt is just too high for what you get, Bought a brand new 2012 Caddy SRX for $46k out the door, Volt just a tad cheaper than a high end luxury vehicle? I hear that the actual volt battery pack is 16k but they only use 8k to replace cells as they die off over the years to maintain the 8K configuration. I don’t know about you but having that much battery and not using it does not seem to make much sense. People will understand that they will start out with 150 mile range and it’ll dwindle down over the years, why build in a worst case scenario? If the car can do it let it do it, just tell them to expect 100+ mile range for the first 2 years then subtract 10 miles per year that or whatever it works out too. That’s alot of battery to drag around with you and not use. As for the charge time so what, people come home and plug around 8pm and drive off around 7-8am, 12 hours should be plenty @ 220v.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    The reason you can’t compare the two is because the PIP isn’t an EREV. It’s a plug-in hybrid like the plug-in accord and ford’s plug-in. The aren’t pure EV’s when until the battery drops down. The Volt drives like a pure electric car at any speed as well and 35 miles distance.


  • usbseawolf2000

    Volt is not an EV when it is really cold, gas engine would start. Every 1.5 months, gas engine will run to maintain itself, even at a stop light. You pop the hood, the gas engine will start. Mountain mode will start the gas engine before the battery charge run out. Stop pretending it is an EV.

    Sure, Volt can go faster in full electric joyride. 15 mins of that at 85 mph and the juice would run out and you are left with 37 mpg compact 4 seater that weights more than Equinox SUV.

    Volt’s 400 lbs battery and gas engine take turns carrying each other. It does not have synergy drive like the Prius PHV. When two engines work together like in Prius PHV, The car is lighter, more efficient which leads to shorter recharge (3 vs 10 hrs), cost less, and no interior compromise.

  • DownUnder

    It looks like Volt does not suit long distance trips with its low MPG after the batteries have been depleted.
    MrEnergyCzar, if it does suit you then don’t worry.

  • Van

    Driving patterns are interesting to consider. Say, I drive less than 30 miles perday, six days a week, but on one day I must drive about 50 miles one way and 50 miles back. For the sake of example say I average 20 miles for six days or 120 EV miles in the Volt, versus 90 miles in the PIP. But one day I drive 35 EV miles followed by 65 gas miles in the Volt. On the other hand I drive 15 EV miles and 115 gas miles for the week in the PIP.

    In summary, both cars drove the same distance, but the Volt drove 155 EV miles and 65 gas miles, whereas the PIP drove 105 EV miles and 115 gas miles. Lets assume, pre-EPA sticker info, that the PIP and Volt get the same electric mileage, say .25 cents (one fourth of one cent) per mile.

    So it cost 39 cents for the Volt to go 155 EV miles and it cost the PIP 26 cents to go 105 miles. On the other hand the Volt used 1.75 gallons to go 65 miles whereas the PIP used 2.3 gallons to go 115 miles. At $3.75 per gallon for regular, the PIP total fuel cost (gas and electric) was $8.88 cents. For the Volt the total fuel cost was $7.30 cents.

    At a fuel savings of $82 dollars per year, it will take a while to off set the $6000 difference in purchase price.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    The PIP and the Volt are hybrids. They both have batteries which can be plugged in and charged and they both have ICE’s, which are used in some way to help the battery recharge or to move the car itself. You can slice it 8 ways from Sunday, but no matter how you slice it they are both hybrids. You want a pure EV? Then go buy a Tesla, Leaf, Mi-EV or some other pure electric car.

  • usbseawolf2000

    @Chris C – More is not better. For a lot of people, there are other important things to consider and balance out.

    @van – Gas price includes delivery charge and taxes. Make sure you include it in the kWh price. If 10-12 hours recharge is not acceptable for Volt, you need to shell out $1k for 240v charger to get it installed. Prius PHV recharges in 2.5 – 3 hours with a regular plug.

  • Van

    Yes, USBseafolf2000, I did “slip a digit” in my example, but when corrected, the PIP operating cost comes even closer to matching the Volt in my driving pattern.

    Lets back up and try again on the cost per mile electric.

    Lets say the billing is 20 cents per KWH. And lets say with a recharge on 1 KWH, I can drive 3.6 miles. Therefore the cost per mile is 6 cents. The Volt drove 155 EV miles ($9.30) and the PIP drove 105 EV miles ($6.30) and when you add it the cost of the miles driven with regular or premium, the total is $16.21 for the Volt and $14:93 for the PIP.

    As far as wiring the garage for 240 Volt and installing a charger, the cost for either car would be similar.

    Therefore, when considering the overall cost of ownership, the PIP wins hands down, again assuming my driving pattern.

    And all of this does not put a price on the advantage of having a dual fuel source vehicle in light of the chance a war with Iran will result in a disruption of Middle East oil.

  • ACAgal

    I did ride in the prototype of the Prius, in the city. I cannot compare this car to any other PHEV, because I haven’t been in the Karma or the Volt. It compares favorably to my ICE, in heavy traffic, good acceleration and handling.

    What I did like better than my current car, was the backseat of the Prius. I had lots of head room, and lots of leg room. As the shortest member of my family (5’8″), I get stuck in the back when the big guys are up front. There’s enough room for the tallest guy in this backseat. I could stop being polite, and enjoy my own ride, in the Prius PHEV.

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  • Volt Owner

    Math is tough, huh?

    For Florida, 1kWhr is .07305, so 12.6kWhr “fillup” is about 92 cents. Real-world, I’ve been getting 40-42mi out of a full charge, which takes me to work and back, with about 4-7mi left over. To be more exact, Volt tells me it took 4.6kWhr to get to work, and about 4.0kWhr to get home (shorter route home, but at night requiring lights) = 8.6kWhr = $.62 (62 cents) mileage is 21+16 = 37mi netting a per-mi cost of 1.67 cents.

    PiP would get me say 13mi (EPA estimated 11)(freeway is 70, so I’d have to do 61, or take another freeway) on 4.4kWhr = $.32 (32 cents) giving per-mi cost of 2.47 cents/mi – nearly double my volt.


    There’s still the matter of the remaining 9 miles to get to work. Using 50mpg, per-mi cost is 7.78 cents per mile x 9 mi = $0.70 plus $0.32 = $1.02 to get to work.

    Volt cost me $0.62 to get to work. AND back. PiP is at $1.02, and I still gotta get back home, PLUS to use the battery I gotta find a slower route, because the Prius can only do 62mph for like 12mi before it goes pfffffffft!

    ’nuff said – plus having to drive that hideous-looking soccer wagon? Please.

    I’ll take my Volt any day, hands down.

    And for those mathematically challenged:
    PiP is $33,000 ($32K + $760) – 2500 tax incentive = $30,500.
    Volt is $40,000 (not 42,000) – 7500 tax incentive = $32,500

    No brainer – I’d rather pay the 2 grand, have lower-cost commutes on EV only, have onstar, handsfree bluetooth, MP3 playing, seriously badass mileage/efficiency computer with 2 x 7″ displays (1 is a touchscreen), all wrapped up in a MUCH nicer package.

    Plus, someone looking at a Volt, sure as heck ain’t cross-shopping a Prius. Two different animals, completely different target audiences, and anyone lumping the two together is a boffin.

    The Prius is a freaking mommy soccer wagon, that is butt-ugly as hell, and the Volt is a much nicer vehicle. No, it ain’t got 5 seats. I don’t need ’em. No, it can’t hold 5 fat people worth of picnic food. Don’t need it. Not only would GM execs be caught dead in one, but most people I know would rather pay more gas, and get a 37mpg in something else, than drive those hideous things.

    So, I’ll wave at you dolts all the way to the right, cruise-control on 62 to stay on battery for 12mi, while I cruise in my Volt, cruise-control set to…well..whatever I want! While on battery! Using my Navi, and my 30GB HDD, enjoying my comfy leather seats!

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