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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Prius Plug-In Hybrid - The Future is Now

Coming to a dealer near you - soon. The Prius Plug-In Hybrid is the latest version of the most popular hybrid on the road. Toyota has been making a hybrid for the last ten years. It was not the first hybrid - that honor went to the two seater Honda Insight - but it has been the most practical one.

Since one pays a premium for the hybrid technology - customers have had to drive a lot of miles to make up for the up front costs of this package. Now with gasoline at $4.00 a gallon - one does not have to drive too many miles to start saving money.

The Prius is rated at 45 MPG by the EPA. But on a recent trip to Tennessee - we average 53 MPG. It is fun driving the Prius because there is a computer screen on the dashboard telling you how much gas you are using - down to the hundredth of a mile per gallon.

Let's do the math for our Prius.

53 miles per gallon x $4.00 per gallon x 4000 miles we put on our car = $301.

If I drove my Ford F150 pickup -

15 miles per gallon x $4.00 per gallon x 4000 miles = $1066.

Looks like I saved almost $800 already driving the Prius instead of my truck. That was in 4 months of usage. That would be roughly $2400 savings in a year.

I bought our used two year old 2008 Prius with 23,000 miles on it for $18,000 ($9000 plus our old Honda van). The original sticker on the car was $27,000 - too rich for my blood.

With the new Plug-In Prius - you can add another savings to the equation. You can drive the first 13 miles without the gasoline engine coming on at all. If you drive less than 6 miles to work each way every day - you would not have to buy any gasoline at all.

The battery fully charges in 3 hours plugged into a standard 120 volt outlet. If you plug it into an 240 volt outlet - like the one for your clothes dryer - it fully charges in 1.5 hours. Running the car on electricity is equivalent to getting 100 miles to a gallon of electricity. As the price of gasoline rises - your savings increase dramatically when driving a Plug-in Prius.

Still - you pay a premium for this car. The technology and the lithium battery make your pay up front to save money later. Depending on how much you drive - as the price of gasoline goes up - so does your savings. Like everything else - it takes money to make money.

We have driven our Prius 4000 miles since we bought it in December. Many of those miles were on one large trip to North Carolina - Georgia - Tennessee. With a 12 gallon tank getting 50 miles per gallon you could go 600 miles if you ran the tank dry.

The Prius performs very much like a small luxury sedan. It has a lot of interior room - plenty of futuristic gagas - some folks say it looks like a turd - but it is the most aerodynamic car on the road right now. When both the electric and gasoline power plants are working together - it has gobs of power. I would like the car even if it was just a regular gasoline car - throw in the quiet electric motor and I love it.

I can't wait to drive the new "plug-in" version.

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