Toyota may be a bit behind the curve when it comes to fully electric vehicles, but with hybrids, they’ve always been at the top of their game. With the recent announcement of the 2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime, the company is taking the plug-in market much more seriously. And they’ve just put everyone else on notice. Even the Prius Prime should be embarrassed. Tesla Cybertruck? Ford Mustang Mach-E? Those are groundbreaking vehicles, but given the current state of the still-developing charging infrastructure, many Americans would probably be better off with something like this plug-in hybrid. Regular hybrids work too. And for Toyota, they’re selling the non-Prius hybrid models as fast as they can.
With EVs being all the rage at the moment, hybrids, specifically the ones from Toyota, are quietly gaining traction with car shoppers. The Corolla and Rav4 hybrids are in high demand. Although the company hasn’t broken out exactly how many they’ve sold this year, they’re doing very well:
While many of its competitors are walking away from hybrids and plowing billions into battery-powered cars, the Japanese automaker has seen demand surge for its 14 gasoline-electric models. Toyota’s hybrids accounted for 13% of total Toyota and Lexus brand sales in the U.S. last month and made up nearly a quarter of the volume for its top seller, the RAV4 compact SUV.
For November 2019, Rav4 and Corolla sales were up 26% and 17%, respectively. The Prius, which had been in a sharp slump, saw sales increase by 12% compared to last year. The hybrids are no doubt a big reason why Toyota’s bread-and-butter products are thriving. At this point the only thing preventing Toyota from selling more of them is their inadequate supply of batteries.
They should definitely figure out how to solve their battery deficit before the launch of the plug-in Rav4 though, because based on the specs, it should be a home run.
What makes Toyota’s newest plug-in so noteworthy? How about a 5.8 second 0-60 mph time? Yes, you read that right. Toyota estimates the Rav4 Prime will be roughly two seconds faster to 60 mph than the regular hybrid variant. And even if the company is way off their projection, a 6.8 second figure would still be impressive. The Prime will use a slightly altered version of the 2.5 liter four cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine found in the regular hybrid. That engine is rated at 176 horsepower. Paired with two electric motors, the system will make a projected 302 horsepower. These numbers bring to mind the days when buyers could order a Rav4 with Toyota’s 3.5 liter V6. That powertrain was quite potent, and Toyota even saw fit to mention it in their press release for the Prime:
A comparison with an older RAV4 offers a vivid illustration of the march of technology. The 2006-2012 RAV4 offered an optional 269-hp, 3.5-liter gas V6 engine that reached 0-60 mph in 6.3-seconds, which is a half-second slower than the RAV4 Prime. And, that model’s 21 combined MPG fuel economy rating simply pales in comparison.
With the new Rav4 Prime, Toyota seems to have developed a vehicle with very few compromises. It’ll go an estimated 39 miles on a single charge, which would make it the longest range plug-in hybrid crossover upon its debut next summer. Additionally, the Prime will also be equipped with the same all-wheel drive system found in the Rav4 and Prius hybrids. The system employs a separate rear-mounted electric motor in the rear end. That limits the amount of torque the Rav4 can send to both rear wheels, and in the event of a depleted battery, owners could lose all-wheel drive completely. In the Prius, the electric all-wheel drive is good for 7 horsepower and 40 lb-ft of torque and can only provide 100 percent of its power up to six mph. That’s not great compared to a mechanical system but it should be able to get owners out of a parking spot.
Toyota apparently packaged the lithium ion battery in a way that leaves passenger space unaffected, which is a plus, although we’ll have to wait and see if that is actually the case once non-Toyota people get the chance to drive one. More believable is the regular gasoline requirement for the 2.5 liter engine. Crucially, Toyota equipped the Prime with a heat pump. In a hybrid or EV, heat pumps allow the vehicle to use the heat coming from the battery or outside air to warm the cabin. That may not sound like much, but using battery power directly to heat up an EV or PHEV with resistance heating can significantly decrease battery performance.
In any event, the Rav4 Prime is uh, primed (sorry) to take the plug-in hybrid segment by storm. The upcoming Ford Escape plug-in hybrid will allow an estimated 31 miles of electric range but will not offer any type of all-wheel drive, mechanical or otherwise. And the related Lincoln Corsair will have an electronic all-wheel drive system but only 29 miles of range per charge. Additionally, the combined output of Lincoln’s system is 266 horsepower, a full 36 horsepower behind the Toyota.
In the opening salvo of the plug-in hybrid efficiency/performance war, Toyota looks set to handily win the first battle. And it’s entirely possible they already won the regular hybrid war too.
Curbside Newsstand: Toyota Camry Returns To Europe – Only As A Hybrid – And Has Eyes On Taxi Market
They should rename this webside Curbside Contemporary
Why? It’s still mostly classic vehicles. The modern articles are all under the category Curbside Newsstand.
I enjoy being able to discuss current automotive news on this site.
How about just CURBSIDE?
For most of 2019 there were four daily posts on average. Now there are five daily posts on average with the extra one on the weekdays being a current news item/feature. I don’t see what was lost. But I can only read about so many early ‘70’s LTDs or Darts myself, every one of these features is new content, if anything I’d like to see more. But I’ll have to check the fine print in my subscription to see exactly what I’m paying for every month to be sure I’m not being cheated.
(I’ve kept pretty quiet around here lately, but CC is always open in a small window on my desktop throughout the workday. I came here for the unique nature of the content and commentary, starting way back in 2012 or 13. I’m still here because it’s increasingly becoming a one-stop shop for all things related to the interests of automotive geeks everywhere. Personally, I think things are going in precisely the right direction, without losing the original plot.)
2 cents. Neither requested nor required, but…there ya go.
Thanks for validating it. It’s precisely the road we’ve taken and will continue to take.
I agree you MTN.
This is the only automotive site for me as well. I’m here almost daily. The mix, and civil conversation, is unique on the web. Many thanks.
I’m quite happy with the way things are going here. While I’m enjoying the periodic mentions of current news, my interest is still the old stuff. The proportions of the two being presented here fills my expectations almost perfectly.
And the civil level of discussion when it comes to modern technology, quite unlike the other sites I check in on (and have ceased commenting complete on both of them), is not only appreciated, but cherished.
These are much more attractive to me than a full electric, for now. Though I’m pretty skeptical that that AWD system would be worthwhile.
The plug-in Pacifica is high on our list when it comes time to replace our Town & Country, assuming the tax credit is still available at that time.
For me, the plug-in Pacifica is the only way I can keep the household stable down to two, rather than three cars. Unfortunately, buying a (both used, of course) Grand Caravan plus a Leaf or Volt is still a lot cheaper than the used Pacifica.
Aside from the functional aspect, the loss of rear wheel drive if the battery gets depleted creates an interesting legal conundrum, in western states where snow chain regulations may depend on 2 vs 4WD. Those were already muddied by automated 4WD systems, now more so. Probably a technicality most people won’t care about, but I could see how a long uphill grind in 4WD could deplete the battery pretty fast. Otherwise, the blend of power and economy in these cars is pretty amazing. And if they’re anything like our older Prius, long term reliability and low maintenance costs should make the value proposition pretty compelling.
I’m also hoping the adoption of Ford hybrids by police departments will be successful, and prove once and for all that fleets, especially those that spend a lot of time stationary and “idling”, don’t need big gas guzzlers. Our atmosphere needs some relief.
Yellow cab taxi companies have already made that move. The real-world 52mpg Camry LE hybrid rules the taxicab market for the last three years.
To say that the RAV-4 Hybrid will loose RWD because of a depleted battery shows a complete lack of understanding of how the system works. If the RWD is lost temporarily it is to prevent that air cooled rear motor from overheating. That is the weak link in the system.
In normal operation the starter/generator generates electricty to run the traction motor(s) and recharge the battery to keep it in its optimum SOC. So unless they have really screwed up the programming there is always electrical power for the rear drive. Even if the traction battery needs a boost you can use some of the energy that would have went to the front traction motor to power the rear motor. If the fronts are slipping then they will be fine with the reduced power.
I haven’t looked into this application, but it was not at all hard to deplete the Prius’ battery under the right circumstances: as in a long steep mountain road. I know of at least one website that did that purposely to show how feeble it was after the battery was depleted and running purely on its IC engine (in essence).
Of course the RAV4 has a significantly more powerful IC engine, and larger battery. I would assume that it still is theoretically possible (Pikes Peak?), but I would think it’s extremely unlikely.
I depleted my old Civic Hybrid’s battery going up I-70 from Salt Lake City up to Park City. Nowhere near the length of Pike’s Peak. That was with a two year old car with a perfect battery. The Civic Hybrid wasn’t the greatest hybrid, a weak base engine being part of the problem, but running out of battery meant 35-40mph in the right lane.
That said there are plenty of Highlander and Lexus RX hybrids out here, I’ve never heard of the awd cutting out due to depleting the battery in the mountains.
My C-Max Energi has climbed I-70 west of Denver at an easy 80 mph, all the way to the tunnel. Long after the plug-in miles were gone. (It’s kind of an unsung performance car among PHRVs, with an 8-second 0-60 time.) Coasting down the 10-mile descent to the Western Slope, I regained another 10 miles of EV range.
Once you’ve experienced that, neither EVs or regular gas cars are all that appealing.
All Hybrids can deplete their battery rather quickly under the right conditions. I do not dispute that, been there done that many a time, today and most days of the week. If you don’t you are driving your hybrid “wrong” and not getting as good of MPG as you could.
Where that rears its ugly head the most is on mountain passes. Give the engine enough HP though and you’ll get over just fine, if you are driving sane speeds anyway.
What I dispute is that a depleted battery will cause the loss of power to the rear drive unit.
A depleted battery however will mean that you are running on engine power alone, or less than full engine power as small portion is redirected to recharge the battery, to what ever level the current operating strategy requires.
A depleted HV battery, on the Toyota and Ford 2 motor eCVT vehicles does not mean that the car is not being driven in part by electricity.
Let me draw a mental picture of how the power flows on one of these vehicles when the engine is on. Imagine a good old fashioned open differential RWD vehicle. You’ve got your driveshaft providing power and a pair of tires putting that power to the ground. Now imagine what happens when you stop one of those tires and a sheet of ice. Of course you just sit there and spin even if the other tire is on dry pavement.
Us old timers however had a trick on how to back out of such a situation. That was to apply the parking brake a bit. That additional drag on the free spinning wheel would cause some power, enough if you were lucky, to get you unstuck.
That is the same principle behind the power split device as Toyota calls it.
Now imagine a nice IRS with that open differential, now remove one of those half shafts. What happens if we now spin the driveshaft?
Now take a couple of motors and connect them to the diff and wheel. Now when we turn the driveshaft what happens? The motor attached to the diff spins and no torque is transferred to the shaft that is connected to the wheel since we left the motor’s leads disconnected.
So lets connect the wires from the motor connected to the diff, in the proper polarity, to the motor connected to the wheel. Now when we turn the shaft the motor connected to the diff generates electricity that is sent to the motor connected to the wheel and it turns. More importantly generating that electricity requires power and thus creates drag. That drag does the same that applying the parking brake does, it forces torque to go to the other wheel.
So for the engine to be able to transfer torque to the wheels the starter generator MUST create a mechanical load which it does by generating electricity. Most of the time in the 2wd versions the majority of that power goes to the sole traction motor, particularly in high demand, low SOC situation. With an additional traction motor all of that power could go to the rear traction motor.
However the Toyota Q211 is not designed for a 100% duty cycle because it is air cooled. So there is a limit to how much power can be sent to it and how long power can be sent to it before it must be allowed to cool. That is why the RAV-4 and Highlander Hybrid looses power to the rear wheels temporarily in certain conditions. It has nothing to do with the battery SOC.
Thanks for the explanation. I had a vague intuitive idea of that, as that’s how I tend to deal with more complex engineering concepts, but you’ve made it much clearer. Makes sense.
Glad that made it clearer as to how it operates and why the battery state of charge won’t prevent power from being directed to the rear motor.
Sure if the battery SOC is high enough it will be helping out and there will be more power available to send to the wheels, if demand indicates the need.
Of course in the real world the power split device is a planetary gear set with the elements connected to the ICE and motors as shown below.
This is also how they vary the effective gear ratio between the engine and wheels. By varying the amount of current the starter generator is allowed to make you can control its speed, sort of the reverse of using a variable speed drill where you control the power to the motor to make it spin at the desired speed.
The relative speed between the sun and planets is what varies the effective gear ratio between the engine and wheels.
It is a very elegant solution to the CVT problem. It is not however the best at efficiently transferring engine power to the wheels with minimal loss.
That is why the 1st and 2nd generation Ford transaxle cases were designed to hydraulically actuate a clutch to hold the starter generator stationary. If you do that the ratio becomes fixed and there is zero loss from turning the mechanical power to electrical power transmitting that and turning it back into mechanical power. For what ever reason they chose not to implement that feature, though obviously pretty late in the development process.
I’m pretty confident that the engine is always available to keep some charge in the hybrid battery. A computer is managing the whole system and it can always send some power to the battery at the expense of a little power to the road.
Maybe in this one, but it was not that hard to deplete a Prius battery.
I’m impressed! Pending price and mileage figures. I am glad to finally see some meaningful electric-only range from a Toyota plug-in hybrid.
I do wonder how much of the Prius’ sales slippage was due to the hideous tailfin design that a lot of us here maligned when it came out. The new one certainly walks that aesthetic back a lot and is much easier to look at without gagging.
Agreed. With much less of a “Corolla straining to take a dump” look or tailfins from a late fifties’ sci-fi movie spaceship, the new Prius should sell better.
The introduction of competing hybrids certainly took a bite out of Prius sales too, with three tempting alternatives – the Corolla, RAV4, and Camry hybrids – right next to them in the showroom. The Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro, amongst others, are strong competition as well.
There is an irony in the cancellation of the Chevy Volt since the 1st gen Volt was considered the first EV-type vehicle to be truly competitive with the Prius. Up until the appearance of the 2011 Volt, the Prius ruled the hybrid market uncontested for five years from 2004 thru 2010.
Today, the competition has caught up with plenty of products equal to (or better than) the Prius.
Now I’m puzzled. I understand a hybrid is both gas and electric. Usually the gas engine charges the battery. Now a plug-in hybrid…….after you put 39 miles on it, does the battery stay dead until you plug it in somewhere? Or, what?
No. First of all the, the battery is undoubtedly not fully depleted after the 39 miles of pure EV range; some is certainly kept in reserve. And from that point on, when the IC engine kicks in, the battery is also being charged. From then on it functions more like a typical hybrid.
Just how much the battery is recharged from the engine is another question. that would depend on how the system is programmed. I’m quite sure the IC engine will only charge it up to the degree it’s needed for normal hybrid function, otherwise it would use a fair amount of fuel working as a generator.
A plug-in hybrid battery is much larger, so there’s more room to store electricity from regenerative braking than a typical hybrid. So I don’t feel that my C-Max Energi’s battery is useless after the meager 20 EV miles are done. I also drive a C-Max Hybrid, so I know that the gas engine in the plug-in version works much less than in the hybrid, all day long. The best illustration of that is the cumulative gas mileage over the past two years. The Hybrid, in a favorable commuter use cycle, has recorded 37 mpg. The Energi plug-in, driven several times per week for a hundred miles or more, sits at twice that, 74 mpg.
For me, it’s about reducing my net gas use. Not necessarily to zero, because in my regional electrical grid, an EV has the same carbon footprint as a 42 mpg gas car.
Thank you. I’m looking at a used plug-in electric/plug-in hybrid as my main commuter car next spring, and I’ve wondered where the C-Max fit in. While I’d love a Leaf, the coward and pragmatist in me is looking at a Volt or C-Max Energi a bit more closely.
The C-Max Energi is a fun to drive little car and better at hauling bulky things or people than the Volt. They can often be had as cheap as the standard hybrid versions. The other beauty is that the 110v cord is all that you really need, as it will give you a full charge overnight. or in a full work day.
Since you haul things be sure to compare the trunk area of the C-Max Hybrid to that of the C-Max Energi, there is a definite difference in the height of the floor (it’s above the lip) due to the different sized batteries. Attractive cars otherwise though from an energy perspective, both of them.
Yes the Energi’s battery takes up much more of the cargo space than the standard Hybrid. It sounds like the van is staying as the big cargo hauler.
However you can get a lot in the Energi version. I’ve stuffed a lot in ours, in fact yesterday it move several large boxes and a lot of smaller items.
While there is only one HV battery the vehicle treats it a two separate batteries. The Traction battery the “top” x% and the Hybrid battery the bottom 1-x%. So yeah technically once you’ve gone that 39 miles the traction battery portion will stay “dead” until you plug it in.* The vehicle will operate like a standard hybrid, discharging and charging the hybrid portion of the battery as current operating strategy dictates.
*However thanks to that traction battery portion if you are the down side of a long grade, like a mountain pass, you can actually fill the hybrid portion and recharge the traction battery portion and end up with some pure EV range as John noted above.
“It’ll go an estimated 39 miles on a single charge, which would make it the highest range plug-in hybrid available upon its debut next summer. Additionally, the Prime will also be equipped with the same all-wheel drive system found in the Rav4 and Prius hybrids.”
Is this correct? I thought the Honda Clarity PHEV was rated to go 47 miles on a charge. Didn’t know the Prius was now available with AWD, though.
And it would be nice if Toyota would get around to actually including Android Auto. I guess neither BMW or Porsche offer Android Auto, either, and knowing how BMW tried to charge for Carplay, I shudder to think what they’d want for Android Auto.
Totally forgot about the Clarity. I updated the text to make it clear I’m talking about plug-in hybrid crossovers. Thanks for the correction.
No problemo. Seems like the Clarity doesn’t seem to get much love, even though I’ve seen a few of them running around. It might have something to do with the futuristic look but, personally, I think they look okay. Certainly nothing as bizarre as what Toyota did with the Prius.
But even In the context of PHEV crossovers/CUVs, the RAV4’s EV range may be eclipsed by the new 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. While the 2019 would only go 22 miles, and I can’t find anything conclusive, the new 2020 Outlander may be able to go 50 EV miles on a full charge.
Plus, the Mitsu is DC Fast Charging (DCFC) capable, which is a very nice perk. DCFC is a rarity on PHEVs and I don’t know if Toyota will have it on the RAV4 plug-in.
But there is one other thing to consider on those PHEV range figures. Anecdotal evidence suggests that while other manufacturers strive for accuracy on EV range, Toyota is actually quite conservative about it.
Toyota’s range numbers may be considered the ‘lowest’ range most drivers can expect on a full charge, with real world numbers actually being much higher. I personally know a guy with a Prius Prime who claims to routinely achieve 38 miles on a charge in good weather (according to his screen readout) when Toyota rates it at 25.
> And it would be nice if Toyota would get around to actually including Android Auto
Toyota will finally include Android Auto on several 2020 models, including all trucks, many SUVs, and according to some sources the Camry, RAV4, and Corolla (hatchback, anyway), but evidently not the Prius.
This article is giving me kind of a CC effect regarding plug-in hybrids and Toyota/Honda. Just yesterday I had an Uber ride in a Honda Clarity PHEV, and enjoyed a very interesting conversation with the driver. The gist was that he liked having plug-in EV capability, but also wanted the flexibility and freedom of gas power so he could go “anywhere, any time.” Strikes me as a basic truth about cars and what we expect them to do for us, and therefore PHEV represent a really smart way to drive EV adoption.
Toyota, disciplined and razor-focused on “boring” mainstream customers versus flashy showmanship, clearly gets this and is quietly and effectively transforming their line-up with PHEVs across popular models. THIS is what will drive EV adoption into the “heartland,” and could be a repeat of their effective ’70s- and ’80s-era conquest of America’s “middle” with attractive, efficient and very useful small cars.
An added benefit of this methodical, reputation-driven approach, as expressed by my Uber driver regarding his Honda: “it’s well built, reliable and can be serviced anywhere.” No doubt he’d buy another Honda, and likely would get a Toyota for the same reasons. But he bluntly said he wouldn’t touch a Tesla, because of the EV-only capability and quality/service issues.
So, in the race for electrification, my prediction is that the Japanese (especially Toyota) will likely continue to gain share with these PHEVs, Tesla will retain their image-driven, CA-centric pure EV dominance, but the Europeans could be in for a rough ride. In particular, VW’s aggressive pure EV strategy could struggle, as “game changing” products like the Audi eTron and eGolf haven’t exactly set the U.S. market on fire so far.
It’s going to be interesting to watch this unfold.
PHEV have to date actually been not very successful. Look what happened to the Volt. And the Prius Prime has not been a strong seller. And I seem to remember a number of other PHEVs offered that have been very modest sellers and/or taken off the market. PHEV’s share of the market has actually dropped, to date.
Apparently a lot of folks bought them early on, but what they really wanted was a pure EV, hence EVs now have a bigger share of the market. This was the effect of early adopters.
But this may well change for the reasons you suggest. Non-early-adopters may now be more be more open to PHEVs, since they’ve been around for a while. And models like this RAV4 Prime are much more compelling than some of the previous ones, as it has greater range and more importantly, excellent performance.
The tax incentives may well help too, a normal hybrid isn’t usually eligible but a plug in is depending on the battery size. Depending on the state and an individual’s tax situation the tax credit can make the plug in cost less than the regular hybrid and potentially even less than the gas only version.
I suspect that the significant advances in BEV range of even the cheapest models is the main reason former PHEV owners are making the switch to full EV. They’ve figured out and adapted to the plug-in life and are just taking the next logical step. The longest EV range of a PHEV is still less than 50 miles, but BEVs are now approaching 250 miles. IIRC, that’s not far from the total range (ICE and EV, combined) for the 1st gen Volt.
So, while I don’t know for certain, if it’s still true that today’s total PHEV range isn’t that much greater than today’s typical BEV, well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why PHEV sales have dropped and BEVs are on the rise.
Where I live (DC/MD/VA), PHEVs not only qualify for tax breaks but also allow you to drive solo in HOV lanes in Maryland and Virginia. This is clearly swaying buyers toward plug-in versions of the Prius and Pacifica amongst others which may cost less overall than their plugless hybrid or ICE-only variants.
Being able to drive in the HOV lane can be a major deciding factor in getting an EV-type vehicle. For many years, when they were still eligible, the HOV sticker was estimated to add something like at least several thousand dollars to the resale value of a Prius in California.
Yeah and that is a big reason that EVs sell so well in CA you have to have a plug to go solo in the HOV and a lot of people were hooked on it when a standard hybrid qualified.
Out of curiosity, does anyone know if there is legitimate, legal reciprocity between states on HOV stickers? I wouldn’t think you would get a ticket for driving in the HOV lane if you had an out-of-state HOV sticker (on an appropriately HOV-eligible and legally registered out-of-state vehicle) but you never know.
And what’s the cost to register as an HOV? I only know that, in Florida, it’s $5/annually but, then, the only HOV lanes are in southeast Florida (Miami area).
Two years ago, my Ford C-Max Energi. listing for $53k, was marked down by $5,000. Federal and state tax credits totaled a tidy $9007, so I got a $35,000 new car for about $21K. I couldn’t afford not to buy one!
Toyota are talking up their RAV hybrid over here not the irrelevant 0-100 times but its towing capacity claimed as the best in the small SUV market, I havent seen on towing anything heavy yet but no doubt someone will try.
I just checked our Toyota website. The RAV4 2.5 Hybrid AWD is rated at a maximum towing capacity of 1,650 kg. The 2.0 gasoline-only FWD with the manual transmission gets a 2,000 kg rating.
I quite like the current RAV4, much more than the previous model. It’s also selling much better than in the past years.
1,750 lbs US (just under 800 kg) for the hybrid vs 3,500 lbs for the top of the line ICE. Which is ashamed; we currently tow a fiberglass RV that runs about 2,200 dry with our aging Highlander getting maybe 16 mpg on the flats.
No matter the powertrain (unless you get a diesel), I suspect you’ll always get similar mileage on the open road. We towed a 16-foot Scamp with our Forester and got 18 mpg. Later, we hitched it to a turbo Tiguan and got exactly the same mileage. I’ve read of full-sized pickups getting 18 mpg towing Scamps, too.
A hybrid won’t change the equations of tow weight and air resistance, but it might gain you back some MPGs in city traffic – a crowded day in Yellowstone, for instance.
A reminder: many households have more than one car. Often a ‘main’ car for the family and second or third commuter cars. At our house a Prius hybrid is the car for four people, cargo and/or long trips. 100-mile EVs make great commuter cars, like my Fiat 500e, which has never needed to be more than 30 miles from its at-home solar charger.
So there are good markets for plug-in hybrids and commuter EVs both. It’s not either-or. Plus Teslas and electric Cadillacs for those who choose to spend the money.
You’re describing exactly the household situation I’m facing. The wife’s car is a Dodge Dart, used for general commuting and moderate trips. My car (by default) is a Kia Sedona, intended for hauling, long trips, and (usually) combinations of the two. My daily driver is a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic which does have obvious limitations in winter and on wet days.
So I’m looking for a commuter car. Used, due to budget constraints. Love the idea of a plug-in electric, but seriously wondering if going the plug-in hybrid route wouldn’t be the wiser choice. Thirty miles a day would probably do me fine, and I’d still naturally gravitate to one of the bikes if it’s a dry day.
In at least some parts of the country there are great deals available on 3-year-old commuter EVs coming back off of lease. Not unusual to see nice Leafs, Fiats, Chevy Spark EVs with low mileage in the $10K neighborhood at dealers, and less private party.
I think prices are down because the general market is cautious about EV battery lifetime, even though EV experience has been excellent with more and more examples of 100K-mile EVs.
The availability of a lot of off-lease Volts may be a big factor as to why the PHEV market is down (and why GM has cancelled the Volt, as well). In a strange twist, GM may have engineered the Volt to last too well.
The geek in me would love to have a hybrid or a plugin hybrid just to try them for the novelty of the technology. But living in the Midwest, where charging infrastructure is not so great and in a 1970’s house with aluminum wiring…makes the prospect of charging at home too risky. Plus, I struggle with the cost justification. Maybe for more populated areas with hov lanes, preferred parking, etc it might be worth it, but the straight up internal combustion engines are very efficient now. You can hit high 30s mpg in a Camry if you drive it gently, and the simple (quite advanced really) gas technology is known. Maybe I’m too old and conservative but the economics don’t work out. I tried to convince myself if this a few years ago – cross shipping a Prius C vs. a Yaris. Both pretty similar in size,, etc and the math just didn’t work out. But to be fair, not every car purchase is made in a fully rational way. Emotion always come into it.
That said, I completely agree that Toyota’s 3 pronged business plan – straight ice for us simpletons;, straight hybrids for us who are about 15 years behind the curve; and plug in hybrids for people who want electric mobility but don’t live in an area where it is conducive to longer trips. This is what will win over a much larger number of people in the Midwest!