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Next Toyota Prius will go 30-35 miles on electricity but it has big obstacles to overcome

A report today from Green Car Reports states that the new 2016-ish Prius Plug In Hybrid will go 30-35 miles on a charge. That’s about 3x the current Prius Plug in for which I am a dissatisfied owner. It is also about 50% more than previous estimates on the range extension.

The current version of the Prius Plug-in contains a 4.4kWh battery and is said to go 11 miles on a charge. The charge is provided by a typical wall outlet in about 3 hours or a Level 2 charger in about an hour and a half.  Using our friend math and assuming no radical changes in efficiency (design prototypes above), we can estimate that the new battery will be somewhere between 12 and 15kWh and should be able to charge is around 3-5 hours from a level 2 charger.

The reality, however, is that you can’t go very far on electricity alone in  aPrius Plug-in. We bought ours for around the town driving which would theoretically let our family drive almost exclusively on electricity if we kept to the 11 miles per charge.

The reality is quite different. If you need to go up a steep hill, the ICE will turn on and will stay on for an indeterminate amount of time. If you go over 65 MPH on the highway, the same thing happens. Air conditioning or heat? ICE.

That actually would be fine (as long as the ICE turned off after – which it almost never does) but the ICE turns on at times for no particular reason. I can be driving down a hill regen-ing with no climate control or even windshield wipers going and bam! On comes the ICE.

Overall this has brought the mileage down to near our old, non-plug-in Prius.

And, the 11 miles range is more like 8 miles if you drive really softly. So figure the new Prius will reliably hit 25 miles if it says it can hit 30-35.

I’ve considered doing things like letting the gas run out so the motor could start. Or I’ve hear that the European Firmware for the Prius allows better control of the ICE.

As it stands now, this car shouldn’t be allowed to be called anything more than a normal hybrid. If Toyota doesn’t fix this problem in the 2016-7 model, it doesn’t matter how bit the battery is.



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  1. RJ - 8 years ago

    Well stated Seth. As a current Gen 2 Prius owner, the 2016 lineup will be interesting for a possible upgrade for myself. However reports are the next Plug-in won’t follow the lift back models until a year later. There’s always Tesla but even the CPO cars are selling for at least 50k.

    • Seth Weintraub - 8 years ago

      I’d be willing to try it for sure but the Volt is looking a lot better in terms of mileage on electricity.

      • RJ - 8 years ago

        But do you trust General Motors? Great ‘This American Life’ on NUMMI plant in Fremont makes it sound like GM has a long way to go.

      • Seth Weintraub - 8 years ago

        Found it, yes Nummi plant story – great listen. I have a lot of respect for the Volt and if it can hit nearly 50mph on a charge without dipping into gas then it will be in our sweet spot.

      • RJ - 8 years ago

        Excellent work with the site, the new layout is clean and colorful. Agreed on the Volt, will give it another try and check it out when it ships later this year. At least it will be a full country roll out instead of the Prius Plug-In, Spark EV, Mercedes B-Class, etc. that only launch in limited states.

      • Seth Weintraub - 8 years ago

        I think you can get a Prius Plug in anywhere but I really think GM blew it by making the Spark EV only CA, OR and now Maryland. That’s the One EV I think could make a difference right now because of its low price.

      • RJ - 8 years ago

        Agreed. I could lease $139 a month with no money down for the Spark. I would have considered the Plug-in but for the range issues you mentioned, and that it’s only sold in 15 states – but of course the one state I live in is the one that frustrates me the most because I can’t get it locally.!/features/common-questions/where-can-i-buy-one

      • Seth Weintraub - 8 years ago

        Ah, didn’t realize that. Actually you are pretty lucky you didn’t get one. I liked my non-plug in Prius much more. Hoping new version is more like Volt with complete control over EV/ICE choice.

  2. Jörg - 8 years ago

    Why not go completely electric? There are already much cars with enough pure electric range to boom around town. Take a Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, VW Golf electric, Mercesdes B Class electric. How about those?

    • Seth Weintraub - 8 years ago

      There are still some places (where we go skiing in Vermont or NYC to Montreal for instance that aren’t fast-charger campatible that we need an ICE for. Hopefully my next car will be my last with an ICE.


Avatar for Seth Weintraub Seth Weintraub

Publisher and Editorial Director of the 9to5/Electrek sites. Tesla Model 3, X and Chevy Bolt owner…5 ebikes and counting