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Published on February 8th, 2009 | by Nick Chambers

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Toyota: Reports That the Plug-in Prius Gets 65 MPG are Wrong

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Last week, news broke that the upcoming plug-in Prius was returning 65 miles per gallon in tests. That would represent a 15 mpg gain over the recently announced 3rd generation non-plug-in Prius. Now, in a post on Toyota’s Open Road Blog, Irv Miller, Vice President Environmental and Public Affairs, says that no such claims were made.

At the time, the claim seemed a bit fishy to me considering that it’s unlike Toyota (and legally sketchy) to make such claims before a production version is even announced. According to Miller:

“We believe there was a misunderstanding between the reporter and the spokesperson, who were also discussing Prius vehicles that had been converted to plug-ins by aftermarket companies and are currently being tested by private individuals, companies, utilities and so on. Many of these owners of converted PHVs have stated or publicly posted performance numbers in the 65 mpg range.”

Apparently, Toyota doesn’t even have prototypes of their lithium-ion powered plug-ins in the US yet. The test mules they’ve been using are powered by the nickel-metal hydride batteries that have been used in the Prius since its inception. The plug-in Prius that will be released for testing to fleets later this year and to the general market sometime in 2010 will use a lithium-ion battery.

As Miller sums up:

We look forward to getting in-use driving feedback from the 150 lease-fleet customers who will receive our lithium battery-powered Prius PHVs early next year. We anticipate a wide range of fuel efficiency performance numbers. And we regret the misunderstanding that prompted this recent news story.

Source: Green Car Congress

Image credit: Toyota



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About the Author

Not your traditional car guy.



  • http://greenoptions.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    CalCars has been driving a conversion (Prius+plug-in) for years that gets over 100 mpg.

    You are right though – Toyota will not say what the mileage is so early.

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    CalCars has been driving a conversion (Prius+plug-in) for years that gets over 100 mpg.

    You are right though – Toyota will not say what the mileage is so early.

  • http://www.save-on-gas-prices.com/ DianeN.

    I knew it sounded too good to be true. 65 MPG would be sweet though!

  • http://www.save-on-gas-prices.com/ DianeN.

    I knew it sounded too good to be true. 65 MPG would be sweet though!

  • Sk

    Isn’t any claim mathematically impossible to be definitive? If I drive a plug-in less than 20 miles a trip, I will get infinite miles per gallon, because I never use the internal combustion engine at all. If I drive it on one trip of 5000 miles duration, I will get some other miles per gallon (in which case the plug in aspect is irrelevant: the car will get the MPG of the ICE itself). Any other driving style in between will be dependent on the driving style, and not the technology. So any definitive declaration (65 MPG, 45 MPG, 100 MPG) is both technically feasible and not universally applicable.

    Sk

  • Sk

    Isn’t any claim mathematically impossible to be definitive? If I drive a plug-in less than 20 miles a trip, I will get infinite miles per gallon, because I never use the internal combustion engine at all. If I drive it on one trip of 5000 miles duration, I will get some other miles per gallon (in which case the plug in aspect is irrelevant: the car will get the MPG of the ICE itself). Any other driving style in between will be dependent on the driving style, and not the technology. So any definitive declaration (65 MPG, 45 MPG, 100 MPG) is both technically feasible and not universally applicable.

    Sk

  • Nick Chambers

    Sk,

    You are absolutely correct. The issue is a complicated one, and even EPA, the agency that decides how to rate MPG on vehicles, hasn’t quite figured out how to rate these types of vehicles yet.

    The long short of it is: when these types of vehicles start coming out soon, you may need to disregard the EPA estimates and perform your own “mileage” calculations based on total power used and the cost of each of those power sources based on your individual driving habits.

  • Ed Nutter

    Consumers Union does a 150 mile road trip encompassing a bit of every kind of driving as part its Consumer Reports car tests. Average mileage for my cars have been within 2mpg of their results for years.

  • Ed Nutter

    Consumers Union does a 150 mile road trip encompassing a bit of every kind of driving as part its Consumer Reports car tests. Average mileage for my cars have been within 2mpg of their results for years.

  • MPG is useless.

    For those new to the concept of directly comparable energy efficiency for any type of vehicle:

    1. One gallon of retail gasoline (which is 10% ethanol, by the way) = about 36.6 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy (over time). This is from the US DOE Kids page, where you can covert the megajoules to kWh on-line, easily. Now you are are ready to combine those results (mpg to kWh per 100 miles from the gasoline portion of the vehicle operation)with energy use from any other source – the key is to get everything into kWh first. I’ll let the compressed gas enthusiasts report the energy per standardized volume of compressed gas for all the gas types.

    2. Measure average kWh used per 100 miles (# kWh / 100 miles) for the entire vehicle cycle (everything full to everything needing to be refilled/recharged) for the maximum vehicle range, with the kWh use weighted by the miles each mode of operation uses, for vehicles with multiple modes.

    3. Now you have a metric for energy use efficiency that allows for direct comparison between any vehicle types.

    4. MPG is useless. MPGe is pretty informationless without details, such as I’ve listed above.

    To do a cost comparison is more complicated, bu the above allows you directly compare at vehicle energy efficiency between any types of vehicles.

  • MPG is useless.

    For those new to the concept of directly comparable energy efficiency for any type of vehicle:

    1. One gallon of retail gasoline (which is 10% ethanol, by the way) = about 36.6 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy (over time). This is from the US DOE Kids page, where you can covert the megajoules to kWh on-line, easily. Now you are are ready to combine those results (mpg to kWh per 100 miles from the gasoline portion of the vehicle operation)with energy use from any other source – the key is to get everything into kWh first. I’ll let the compressed gas enthusiasts report the energy per standardized volume of compressed gas for all the gas types.

    2. Measure average kWh used per 100 miles (# kWh / 100 miles) for the entire vehicle cycle (everything full to everything needing to be refilled/recharged) for the maximum vehicle range, with the kWh use weighted by the miles each mode of operation uses, for vehicles with multiple modes.

    3. Now you have a metric for energy use efficiency that allows for direct comparison between any vehicle types.

    4. MPG is useless. MPGe is pretty informationless without details, such as I’ve listed above.

    To do a cost comparison is more complicated, bu the above allows you directly compare at vehicle energy efficiency between any types of vehicles.

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