2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In, 2012 Prius V: Pricing, New Details

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Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In

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Toyota has announced pricing on two new models from its Prius family: the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the 2012 Toyota Prius V.

And it's clarified that both trim levels of the plug-in Prius will likely qualify for a Federal tax credit of $2,500 (although the government has not yet certified them as eligible).

Prior to any credit, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In has been priced at a base $32,760 (including destination), while the Plug-In Hybrid Advanced costs $40,285—with the figures landing remarkably close to what GreenCarReports had predicted, based on recently announced European pricing.

All Plug-In Prius models get remote air conditioning, a charging timer, heated front seats, a Display Audio system with navigation and Entune, and LED running lamps. The Advanced model adds a premium hard-drive nav system, JBL GreenEdge audio, a head-up display, dynamic radar cruise control, a Pre-Collision System, LED headlamps, a power driver's seat, Safety Connect, and smartphone integration.

Initially the Prius Plug-In Hybrid will only be offered in 14 launch states: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. Then, in 2013, Toyota will expand availability throughout the U.S.

Toyota also announced that Leviton will be offering a Level 2 home charging station—of up to 30 amps—with special support for Prius Plug-In customers; the system starts at $999.

We've now driven prototype versions of the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid three separate times. You can read our drive reports here:

And at last check, we assessed the Prius Plug-In as a value-added version of the standard Prius—especially for those looking to potentially reduce their carbon footprint.

But how much added value? That was as much a question then as it is now, and it largely depends on how often you can plug in and how far you drive daily. In a follow-up post, we crunched some of the numbers to demonstrate how it might (or might not) work for you.

Plug-In not a hard-charging bargain, but something different

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Drive - March 2011

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Drive - March 2011

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Even given the frequent plugging-in during a weeklong test drive, we only anticipated a savings of $860 on fuel over 100,000 miles—meaning that you're not likely to find any kind of economic return, unless gas prices skyrocket. The Prius Plug-In's base price announced today is about $8,500 more than a base 2011 Toyota Prius.

Toyota estimates that the 2012 Prius Plug-In will deliver 87 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), while still returning 49 mpg in hybrid mode. Charge times for the lithium-ion battery pack will be just 2.5 to 3 hours with a standard 120-volt household AC outlet or 1.5 hours with 240 volts.

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Comments (26)
  1. I think that skepticism about the plug-in Prius is appropriate, but the $860 lifetime savings from the author is doubtful and based on a very limited use of a prototype car.

    Let's assume that you plug in once a day and get 14 miles in the PIP
    4.4 KWH/day
    0.315 KWH/mile
    13.97 miles/day
    $0.11 $/KWH
    $0.48 $/day

    Now assume the same for the normal Prius

    50 mpg
    14 miles/day
    0.28 gallons/day
    $3.67 $/gallon
    $1.03 $/day

    Consider the difference
    $0.54 day
    365 days/year
    $198.41 $/year
    10 years
    $1,984.14 $/lifetime

    So $2000 savings over ten years, which is not much. Hopefully the environmental savings are big, because the cost savings are not.

    I am assuming the same MPG for both PIP and normal Prius after the first 14 miles.

  2. The math doesn't look too promising for Europe either. Paying €10.000 over a regular Prius for saving roughly €1.60 per day that the car is used in gasoline....Safe to say that this is not a very profitable proposition from a financial viewpoint without further fiscal measures.

  3. John,
    Thanks for the insightful comments, and for presenting some useful figures here. With that original 'crunching numbers' post, I should point out, the numbers were based on our covering 77.7 miles out of 103 miles in EV mode (and the battery's software-limited capacity of 3.8 kWh) -- that was as much as we could manage with frequent plugging-in, and limiting the use of the Plug-In to relatively short-distance driving tasks. If you could use the Plug-In ONLY in EV Mode, you'd see that level of savings you're pointing to -- but we doubt very many families will buy it primarily as an EV.
    But to the point, you're right -- this was a very limited driving experience, and we look forward to a longer test, and seeing some longer-term numbers.

  4. I am a Prius driver and really enjoy it. However I am concerned that the plug-in Prius is neither fish nor foul. It is not really an EV and it is not really an E-REV. The limited battery size may leave it with too little to brag about.

    But who knows. Maybe Prius buyers will see the PIP as a small additional cost for more green-cred and will go for it. It will be interesting to see the sales numbers in a year. Hope that Toyota breaks out the PIP sales numbers separately.

  5. One more thing. If you plug in both at home and at work, you could possibly double this savings to $4000/lifetime. But this would really be stretching to make a point. I think the $2000 is more likely and you will only get that if your electricity is reasonably price (which it isn't on the East and West coast).

    Honestly, I think the Prius is a victim of its own success. When you make a car that gets 50 mpg from gasoline, the savings by going to EV are just going to be small. There isn't that much gasoline to save.

  6. Even the base priced standard model Prius is out of range for the truley budget oriented buyer. 33,000 vs roughly 15,000 for a low end car like a yaris which gets approx 35mpg mixed driving. The cost to own far out weighs fuel savings unless you could drive around all day in EV mode. Someone prove me wrong please but we can't afford a 33,000 dollar vehicle.

  7. My mistake. I read that wrong. I would delete my post if there was a way. 3k for a plugin, not the standard model. Sorry.

  8. To answer your question, "Would you buy a Prius Plug-In at this price?" Why would anyone buy a hybrid at that price with that low gas millage and 'E' millage when they get better gas millage with their ICE and better 'E' millage with an all electric like the Leaf?

    Now, a question for you. "Why do you eliminate the comment section every time you mention "Clean Diesel" in the article? Is it because GM came up with that term and you know that diesel, just like coal, can never be clean? They both will always produce a huge amount of pollution. The 'clean fuel' is all electric.

  9. @James: I have no idea what you're talking about. We don't have the ability to "eliminate the comment section" on any article.

    We monitor all comments and disable those that are clearly spam, use bad language or insult broad classes of people, are duplicates, and for a few other reasons. See our Terms of Use (link is underneath the open comment box at the top of this thread).

    But please don't insult us (or our readership) by implying that we delete comments on specific topics. We don't.

  10. Sorry I used the wrong term there. I meant 'Turn off the comment section' like you did with the report on 2012 Scion iQ, and most of the GM articles that talked about GM coming out with a 'Clean Diesel' vehicle. And you also turned off the comment section on the article about putting some recycled plastic on a vehicle and called it 'Green'. If you washed the recycled plastic, would it then be called 'Green and Clean'? I imagine the oil, coal, and natural gas companies would like to know about implementing recycled plastic to make them 'Green'.

  11. @James: Please provide URLs for articles in which you allege we "turn off the comment section," including the Scion iQ report & "the GM articles" you mention.

    The one explanation I can think of is that we don't currently have commenting on our car reviews. But those have a different look and say "Review" at the top, so they'd be hard to confuse with news stories. Here's an example:

    So, please provide URLs for the stories you mention. I'd be happy to dig into it if I had any actual details on what you're complaining about.

    (In general, when you complain, your thoughts will be taken more seriously if you include links, IMHO.)

  12. I am not trying to be vicious with you. It just seems that your mag shows favoritism to certain automakers and ignore others with just one or two articles on their achievements. Look at all the articles you wrote about the GM Volt and compare it with the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf is an all electric and the Volt is a hybrid...no favoritism there is there?

  13. @James: Except that your perception is not supported by the data. I searched the GCR content system for articles with "Volt" in the headline & those with "Leaf". There's some overlap (a few have both), but the results were:
    Volt - 308 articles
    Leaf - 297 articles

    Hardly seems like bias to me. Also, I'm still waiting for the URLs of those articles in which we "turn[ed] off the comment section" ....

  14. John, here is the most current one for the 2012 Scion iQ that was written on the 16th of this month, http://www.greencarreports.com/overview/scion_iq_2012 , no comment section. I didn't want to go through 308 articles on the Volt to find the bias there or spend time looking for the article where you called a car 'green' just because they implemented recycled plastic in its design. I know you have a really good memory and you probably know exactly the article I'm talking about.

    If a person can get around your mags bias, it is still the best mag for information.

    Question: Does GM own a percentage of your mag?

  15. John, you know that there are a lot of people who read every word of your mag's articles; and I'm one of those people. I am an old person and my memory is not that good anymore and I can't remember all your articles or their headlines, but I can still remember outstanding characteristics of an article; for instance: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1066000_txchnologist-thorium-lasers-thoroughly-plausible-for-nuclear-cars can get you over 300,000 miles 09/12/2011. I remember that, do you? I hope you are going to do a follow up on Thorium cars.

  16. @James: The Scion iQ review you cited is the one I gave above. It's a car review, not news coverage. We don't have comments on reviews, as I noted previously.

    Neither GM nor any other carmaker owns any portion of High Gear Media. We are owned by the venture capital firms that have funded us, with a portion of the shares owned by employees as well.

    Finally, I'm not clear why you would use the word "mag" to refer to GreenCarReports. High Gear produces online sites that cover cars. We have no print outlet and likely never would. Hence we are far from a "magazine" and have no desire to be one.

    All that said, thanks for your steady contributions and comments!

  17. I have made many strong negative comments about certain biases that I perceive in GreenCarReports and have NEVER been deleted. Voelcker let's the comment stand on their own merits (or lack there of).

    As for the LEAF versus Volt "bias" perception. Keep in mind that until recently, HGM has maintained a completely separate site for electric vehicles like the LEAF. As a result, GCR often didn't cover the LEAF as this would be redundant.

  18. @John: Your point is well taken; if some readers have looked only at GCR and didn't know AllCarsElectric existed, I can imagine they might see somewhat less about the Leaf (although GCR named it the Best Green Car To Buy last year!)

    FYI, every single post from the old AllCarsElectric site was transferred over to GCR when the two sites were combined. The figures I gave for each model were combined totals reflecting content from both sites.

  19. Ok folks. I have had the privilege of driving this car for the last 6 weeks and I must say this isn't a bad car at all and deserves some consideration. I have charged it multiple times a day and used public EVSEs with this car. It averages between 70 and 80 mpg consistently and on a 10 hour trip I took it on I average above 60 so it is definitely much better on gas than ICE cars generally. So right now this car makes me feel like gas costs the same as it did 20 years ago. Because of a little over $20 fills this cars tank and it was taking us over 500 miles per tankful. Based on our everyday driving stuff like: back and forth to school, the doctors office, the food store and the other local stuff, it was averaging above 80 mpg!

  20. Ran out of characters. If you look at your commute and figure you get 60mpgs whenever you don't have any more EV miles left and figure your $0.03 per mile for the 14 miles you get every 1.5 hours you charge (We sell residential units www.EVEnergyStations.com if you need one). You will start to see how this car really stacks up. It will only be worth the money if you figure out your driving and do the math. Trust me in that my gas car is a Minivan and this baby costs about the same amount. I love this car and highly recommend it. If it had more EV miles it would be even better!

  21. This is exactly as expected.
    Hate to say "I told you so" But...
    What happened to "nicely under $30,000"? John?? ;) lol
    So now it's what most industry execs expected (i.e ABOVE $40K) and entire city of Prius aficionados have much egg on their faces.
    The Prius community and cheat-beating fanbois are partially to blame here by creating unrealistic expectations with respect to MSRP for an "advanced" Gen 3 Prius.
    Hence a myriad of bad math that now resides in out cyberspace expounding the "value" of the PiP and ridiculously chastising the TCO and time to recover costs of the Volt.
    Let the crying, whining, and excuses begin.(and no doubt a myriad of "all-new" misleading rationalizations and calcs) LOL

  22. Not sure how you get "ABOVE $40K," at least for the low-end version. Base price *with* delivery is $32,760, minus a $2,500 tax credit, which works out to an effective price of $30,260 by my math. Yes, tax, title, license, insurance, etc. but still.

    On the TCO, however, the math will depend entirely on whether you travel only in journeys of 9 to 13 miles at sub-highway speeds, with 2 or 3 hours in between.

    OTOH, as we often point out, many people buy Priuses NOT because of any payback equation but to make a statement about their beliefs. So TCO isn't relevant for some, and there will be buyers who simply WANT a plug-in (range be damned) that has the Prius imprimatur.

  23. Sorry Voelcker , but you're NOT the "John" I was referring to... ;) My apologies if it appeared otherwise.
    But yes, I WAS referring to the full-load vs. full-load comparison. As far as the calcs, anticipating opportunity charges on every 13 mile speed-limited segment is more than just a bit unrealistic IMO.Might as well keep your old Prius and get a Wheego or some other NEV...

  24. @Wop Ontour,
    Indeed the "value proposition" is severely lacking for the PiP, as well as the LEAF and VOLT for that matter.

    All I can figure is that market research has shown that there is no market for a poorly equipped EV (EREV or whatever) at a $25,000 price point. So you might as well go up-market for $35,000 or $40,000 with many options that wealthier buyers prefer.

    Voelcker probably has better insights on this issue.

    The marketing guys might be right. We will see.

    In any case, we still have the same old problems of oil supply, trade deficits, pollution, and global warming if we cannot find a solution to the gasoline car problem.

  25. I want that wagon! I have always driven a wagon (I hate SUVs) and am thrilled to see a Prius wagon.
    My teen wants a sports car because of its looks: why can't I want a Prius because of its looks?

  26. I find these posts very interesting, since I registered for the plug-in. Tell me, how does one contact Toyota to get suggestions heard?

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