The Toyota Prius has been the signature name when it comes to hybrid powertrains and technology for many years. When you think of fuel efficiency and getting the most out of your mileage while also give yourself the opportunity to have a chance at being eco-friendly the Prius has always been the name that comes to mind. As the leader for many years Prius has been what we expect and what other companies have worked to catch up to and until recently Toyota has been at the head of the class for the hybrid technology, but that time to get caught is upon us.
Currently the Prius Plug-In model offers only a maximum of an eleven mile all-electric range with most of the car owners reporting their gasoline engine kicks in after only six miles or less. This means this version of the leading hybrid car is really not worth the added price of the all-electric/plug-in technology. The new Volt from Chevrolet will offer at least a 50 mile range and of course Tesla thumbs its nose at having any gasoline near its models with over 200 mile ranges in their awesome electric cars, leaving Toyota to unfortunately shrug their shoulders in disgust at what they are offering.
A Prius is still a great choice as a hybrid car, but the plug-in needs to be much better in order to attract many in the market unless Toyota is planning to have the plug-in model go the way of the Honda Accord Plug-In, which was sending it back to the drawing board for another shot in a couple of years. Certainly this is not what Toyota wants to do, so what is the solution to this problem and how can they keep this version of the Prius at a reasonably affordable level?
As with anything from Toyota the answer is to address it aggressively, but in a methodical manner. This may mean a small and incremental increase in range over the next few years until the Prius Plug-In is the leader in the all-electric segment, even ahead of the Tesla models. The first part of this increase is a goal of having the range reach up closer to the 30 or 35 mile range in the next year or two in order to keep the price steady and see the increase that will make a difference on the market.
With electric propulsion systems constantly being improved, it would be no surprise if suddenly Toyota had the next significant improvement in the market. They are after all the company that finally brought us hybrid technology in an affordable form to be enjoyed by anyone who wanted a Prius and the ability to stretch their fuel dollars farther. With a start at the 35 mile range the Prius Plug-In will certainly gain more attention and be a car that many will consider, especially when the commute is short or they live inside city limits and won’t need more than 30 driving miles on most given days.
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