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Savin' Money at the Pump
Toyota’s Prius has become the go-to vehicle for people looking to save money at the gas pump. Sure, it looks like an alien science project gone wrong and its driving dynamics are less fun than a trip to the ER, but this car’s groundbreaking combination of high technology, phenomenal fuel economy and unimpeachable reliability have made it a perennial favorite.
Thanks to stricter emissions laws than the rest of the country, California alone accounts for nearly half of plug-in vehicle sales in the US.
There are very few iconic characters that can be recognized worldwide, but Star Wars‘ R2-D2 and C-3PO are undoubtedly two droids with universal appeal.
Rounding off the first quarter of 2012, April brought some interesting sales stories. GM and Ford were both down a few points, Chrysler was up a whopping 20 percent and Toyota seemed to be on the mend compared to last year, but who would have guessed the Prius Plug-In would be a big winner?
Toyota continues to enjoy success with its Prius family of models, as its plug-in hybrid sold 1,654 units in the month of April.
The sales figure trumps its main competitors, the Chevrolet Volt (1,462 sold) and the Nissan Leaf (370 sold) making it the most popular plug-in vehicle last month in America. It’s no huge surprise that the plug-in variant of the Prius is selling well compared to its counterparts, considering how well-known the Prius moniker has become over the years.
Last month the Japanese automaker also saw the highest sales total for its Prius models ever for the month of April, moving a combined figure of 25,168 units across all its model variants. In total, Toyota sold 30,126 hybrids while its luxury division Lexus moved a respectable 2,467. Compared to April 2011, Toyota’s hybrid sales saw a huge jump of 124.6 percent, but it’s worth noting that April 2011 was also after the disastrous tsunami that hindered vehicle production.
“Thanks to continued strong sales of Camry and Prius family, Toyota was America’s number one retail brand for the second straight month,” said Bob Carter, general manager of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. “With consumer confidence improving, we expect to see sustained industry growth in the months ahead.”
Toyota confirmed today that the 2012 Prius Plug-In has been approved for the State of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP).
The CVRP is a consumer incentive made available in addition to the $2,500 Federal Tax credit for qualified vehicles. The 2012 Prius Plug-In has started to arrive at dealerships, and will also be eligible for the State of California’s HOV lane sticker.
The Prius Plug-In will be eligible for a $1,500 rebate that will be given to consumers on a first come, first serve basis. That rebate will be available to anyone who purchases or leases a Prius Plug-In for 36 months or longer.
The Prius Plug-In features a new Lithium-ion battery, boosting overall fuel economy and offers convenient charging times of only 2.5 to 3 hours using a standard 120-volt outlet, or 1.5 hours with a 240-volt outlet. The Plug-In also comes in an “Advanced” model which adds additional standard features of Premium HDD Navigation with Entune, Plug-In Hybrid Applications through a smartphone, Head-up Display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and more.
The base MSRP for the Prius Plug-In Hybrid is $32,000 while the Advanced has an MSRP of $39,525. Both models are eligible for up to $4,000 in government-supported incentives – $2,500 federal tax credit and $1,500 CVRP.
A national rollout of Prius Plug-in is planned for 2013. At launch, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will be available in the following 14 states:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- New York
- New Jersey
California told 85,000 hybrid drivers to move over, literally. Now everyone is feeling the sting.
Starting last July the yellow stickers allowing hybrid owners to drive alone in the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane expired. The move came in preparation for an anticipated increase in electric vehicles on the road that will be allowed to retain the privilege. Though it may be the case that EVs are gaining popularity, pushing hybrids into regular traffic is causing problems for everyone.
According to a study released Monday by the University of California-Berkeley, the change had the effect you might expect: regular traffic speeds decreased and HOV speeds went up.
That isn’t all though, traffic actually slowed in HOV lanes at points where drivers try to merge back into regular traffic because of the slowdown. In other words, drivers in both lanes are noticing new slowdowns.
The report was based on six months of roadway sensor speed and congestion data, and written by Michael Cassidy, a civil and environmental engineering professor, and Katae Jang, a doctoral student in that department.
Cassidy said there is still plenty of space for hybrids in the HOV lanes, even with the new EVs on the road.
The only new production cars available that meet the standard are the Tesla Roadster and the Nissan Leaf. The Chevy Volt doesn’t qualify because of a specific California emissions law, though Gm says it will be addressing the issue soon.
[Source: Green Car Reports]
Toyota’s Prius plug-in hybrid has been testing in London, all the better to usurp the Continent’s diesels in favor of its “27% better” electric cord.
What does this “27% better” get you? Well, Toyota says, the Prius plug-in takes 27% less fuel than a diesel after a full charge, which takes around 72 minutes. As a city car, the Prius excels in small, slow journeys: the tests in London show that the average journey has been 7.3 miles at around 17 miles per hour. In electric-only mode, the Prius plug-in can drive 12.5 miles, but that hasn’t dissuaded owners from pushing the official limit—22% of drivers went beyond this figure, all the way up to 62mph.
The Prius plug-in will officially launch in Europe early next year. The tests are expected to take three years, and so far they’ve only started last summer. With regular recharging points, Toyota hopes, the Prius plug-in could be a viable alternative to diesels. We’ll see about that, as long as there aren’t any road trips to John O’Groats.