Observers who track the rise and fall (usually just the fall) of electric vehicle sales often ignore a few key points. One is the long phase-out period involved with vehicles like the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. There was no real backup plan for buyers who couldn’t get their hands on one, and segment sales suffered as a result. Still, between the start of 2014 through May 2016, Toyota sold about 30,000 models to U.S. consumers.
According to a report in Automotive News, the Japanese giant is expecting to sell 30,000 a year of the new Prius Prime in America. Since its unveiling at the New York Auto Show in March, Prime set a new standard in plug-in economy with an equivalent of 133 miles per gallon. However, that selling point is not the main reason Toyota sees it becoming a huge success in America and Japan. Here are three things it believes will get Prime moving in volume.
1. Longer electric range
It’s hard to argue with Toyota executives on this point. The first Prius plug-in was rated by the EPA at 11 EV miles, but a look at fueleconomy.gov reveals it could only go 6 miles on electric power alone. Clearly, this number needed a big boost in the new model, and engineers obliged with a jump to 25 miles in EV mode. (Originally, Toyota estimated 22 miles.)
While 25 miles is not groundbreaking, it’s more than Ford Fusion Energi, which makes it viable as a daily driver. Throw in the extraordinary economy quote — better than any EV on the market — and you can see why Toyota expects big things from this element of the upgrade.
2. More separation from standard Prius
If you looked at the old gas-electric Prius and compared it to the plug-in hybrid, there were few differences. Most importantly, they had the same exact styling and got the same economy in hybrid mode. This time around, Toyota dealers can offer consumers two distinct choices: gateway-EV Prime with 25 miles of range or the master of hybrid economy rated as high as 56 miles per gallon. While both are appealing, they are quite different, and the automaker sees this as a selling point.
Then there is the style quotient. The 2016 Prius did not exactly get rave reviews in the looks department. Prime offers a different take on Toyota hybrids, including a little Mirai, which doesn’t hurt.
3. Easier charging
Imagine finding a Level 2 (240v) charger and hanging out for 1.5 hours every time you wanted to get the old Prius PHEV fully charged. It sounds ridiculous when you only get 6 electric miles out of the deal, but that’s how long it took on a 240v connection. On a standard household outlet (110v), it would take between three and four hours to fill the battery.
Clearly, Toyota executives see a big opening in the improved charging time for Prius Prime, which will take just 5.5 hours on a standard home outlet to get 25 miles. Electric vehicles are scary to consumers when you talk about charging in public on high-speed equipment, but everyone knows how to plug a phone into an outlet. You can leave it plugged in at the office garage and leave work with a full charge. That sounds like a selling point to us.
Source: Automotive News