Elon Musk Says Prius Not a True Hybrid: Calls it 2% Electric

2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius

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Elon Musk doesnt pull any punches, and has made many remarks that draw attention, and well he's at it again.  He now questions the idea that a Prius is a true hybrid.

Musk has snuffed at the high tech Prius in the past, and in most automotive circles, the Prius is synonymous with environmentally thinking.  It's the high tech hybrid that delivers outstanding fuel efficiency at an affordable price.  But Musk is not satisfied with people calling it a hybrid.

According to Musk, "A Prius is not a true hybrid, really.  The current Prius is like, 2 percent electric.  It's a gasoline car with slightly better mileage."

His remarks will certainly irritate Toyota execs and engineers, but they likely won't respond and play into the bashing game.  Instead, we will look at the statement above in search of truth.

Hybrid definition:  the combination of two or more different things aimed at achieving a particular goal.  Clearly, the Prius combines electric and gasoline power making it a hybrid.

Slightly better gas mileage:  Most Prius sized vehicles with 5 passenger capability would return around 24 city mpg and 30 highway mpg with a combined rating of around 27 mpg.  The Prius improves on those numbers by nearly 90 percent returning a combined rating around 50 mpg.  90 percent is not slightly better, it's significantly better.

2 percent electric:  By weight, the Prius battery pack comes in around 100 pounds.  If that's only 2 percent of the battery pack needed for a full electric vehicle, than the full electric battery pack would topple the scales at an astounding 5,000 pounds. 

Musk comments without supporting his claims and suggests that other vehicles are far inferior to the Tesla products.  But many of his words are out of line with reality and disrespectful of over innovative companies that bring forth great vehicles, both hybrid and electric.

Source: CNET.com

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Comments (12)
  1. Actually, the Prius mileage comes from the Atkinson engine and regenerative breaking, so there is NO outside source of electricity being used. The source of ALL the energy is gasoline, so in that sense, it is not a hybrid, like the Chevy Volt.

  2. If that's only 2 percent ... would topple the scales at an astounding 5,000 pounds.
    While i agree that his comments were unfounded, i have to disagree with the above math. If you read other musk comments (while i cant prove them obviously) he states that its not a simply equation. The comment I'm thinking of was referring to the volts pack, he states that their pack (roadsters) isn't that much larger to be full electric. The quotes are either here or on gm-volt.com.

  3. Nonsense like Musk's may get him publicity but it is exactly the wrong kind for winning over the public at large. I recommend we ignore him (let him try to boost his ego with UFO tales)and get on with the serious business of cleaning up the auto/oil/coal industries.

  4. I'm not going to agree with that 5,000 pound assessment. A true gasoline car will never get 1,000 miles on a full tank either. The Tesla Roadster gets 244 miles on a single charge (according to EPA) and the battery is 53kWh. That weighs about 990 pounds. What you're suggesting is a massive battery that is 250kWh. That would not only limit performance but become a liability both in efficiency and crash worthiness. There is no reason to use hyperbole...

  5. Would like to add this for all who have driven to Florida and back several times now in absolute confort (6ft5in)in a PRIUS getting 51mph overall average. This includes the BlueRidge Parkway on the way home. Very happy right now may try a Fusion soon. Ours (Prius} is 2005.

  6. I don't agree with the 5,000 pound assessment either, just trying to point out that Musk says 2% electric. 2% of what or compared to what? He makes statements with no supporting evidence. Try to convince readers how a Prius is only 2% electric? It's not easy.

  7. Again, as with anything, you need to understand context and perspective. The Prius is a great gasoline car, as pointed out it drastically improves gas mileage. As an electric car, maybe 2% is too much credit, it can only drive about 2 miles on electricity and that is at very low speeds and low acceleration and you can't plug it in.

  8. When Mr. Musk makes comments like these, you have to understand that his goal is to eliminate our dependence on a non-renewable fuel. Even if every car in the world was a Prius, we'd still run out of oil and our emissions would still be too high. The only real solution is to use 0 non-renewable sources and produce 0 emissions. Tesla is much closer to this solution that Toyota.

  9. When Elon produces an electric car for the same or lower price as a Prius, then he can talk smack about the other options out there.

  10. 9 comments? Pretty cool. Are we approaching critical mass here?
    Right on Elon! Tell it like it is! Who loves ya, baby?

  11. Its great to see so much interest over the article. Good or bad, comments and interaction are what we strive for here. Keep them coming. Controversial articles are posted with good reason, we don't always believe what others say, but we certainly want our readers to find out about it and give their thoughts.

  12. Complain all you want about the Prius and other Toyota Hybrids but they are out there in the here and now in real time! Not some future untested dream or concept that never makes it to the showroom floor! But the bottom line is they are affordable and they are a well built car like any Toyota model that last far beyond most American people's expectations! They are 10 years ahead of us in this technology and they and this new technology are helping to keep this country a float and that will help to stabalize the "American Dollar and the American economy. So you can continue your big gas guzzling ways to carry around your fat ass and your even fatter head with your Dukes of Hazard Mentality! Really where in America are you allowed to even drive your super charged little boy toy at 100-200 mph? And during rush hour in almost any city in the country in bumper to bumper traffic you might hit 20-30 mph on a good day? So you need all that extra horse power and extra tons of wasted metal for what reason? To support that big fat ego and that two inch D**/ joke in your pants? But look what this attitude has already cost us no need to blame others for the hole we have dug for ourselves!

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