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Is the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid The Invisible Plug-In Car?

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For the past few years, every time an automaker has launched a new plug-in hybrid or electric car, it’s been to a fanfare of sorts. 

But while Nissan, General Motors and Fisker have attracted the spotlight as more and more customers step up for their new cars, Press coverage of Toyota’s 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid has been small.

Which leads us to the inevitable question: Is it the invisible plug-in car? 

Just another Prius

In the past year, Toyota has launched three additional models to the Prius family: the 2012 Prius V Wagon, 2012 Prius C subcompact, and 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid. 

Because of their unique designs, both the Prius V wagon and Prius C subcompact can’t be mistaken for the original Prius liftback.

Unless you’re a Prius geek however, the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid looks almost identical to a 2012 Prius liftback, especially from a distance. 

Unlike the 2012 Nissan Leaf and 2012 Chevrolet Volt then, it blends into the background particularly well, only breaking its disguise when parked at a charging station. 

It isn’t Toyota’s green savior

There’s another, more fundamental reason we think Toyota hasn’t gone crazy over advertising the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, one that is fairly simple to understand:

The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid isn’t Toyota’s halo car. 

For Nissan and General Motors, the 2012 Leaf and 2012 Volt are the respective halo cars for each company, becoming the public face of each firm’s green car devision. 

For Toyota however, the entire Prius family is considered its halo brand, with the Prius Plug-in Hybrid representing a small piece of a much larger green fleet offering. 

Or, if you prefer, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is a niche vehicle within a niche vehicle brand.

Toyota already has a customer base

Unlike Nissan and Chevrolet, Toyota already has a loyal base of Toyota Prius hybrid customers around the world, many of which will soon be looking to find a replacement car for their Prius hybrids. 

For many, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers brand loyalty and familiarity while giving them the next logical step towards an all-electric vehicle. 

Because of that, we predict many early 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid owners will be existing Prius owners trading in their cars for the plug-in hybrid. 

Invisible is okay

Because of its limited, 15- 6 mile electric-only/ 11-mile blended mode range, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid might not be suitable for everyone’s needs, and certainly won't compete with the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf when it comes to gaining wannabe plug-in drivers.  

But If you want to avoid the attention that owners of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt, 2012 Nissan Leaf and 2012 Mitsubishi i regularly get from other motorists, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is your ticket to incognito electric driving. 

As little as five years ago, the humble Toyota Prius created a stir wherever it went. 

Nowadays, Priuses are so common even the Prius Plug-in Hybrid fails to get attention. 

Isn’t that level of normality and invisibility what we all wanted anyway?

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Comments (15)
  1. I have had the privilege to drive this car for the past few months as part of a customized program for subject matter experts. I must say, I was not a Prius owner prior to this but have only good things to say about it. I routinely end up getting between 70 and 85 mpg with the car depending on trip length generally. It spends about 20% of the time driving electrically based on my usage. Only thing I would like to see happen to this car is to give it more EV miles!
     
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  2. Yep, I agree. Toyota needs to up the battery size. 3.1 kWh of chargeable battery is not enough.I got my Plug-In in Tucson on April 2nd. I drove 1,300 miles (43.7 mpg) without plugging in to get it home to the Dallas area. Now, I'm spending most of my time in EV mode. I've now gone 650 EV miles and my overall economy is now up to 65 MPG. Ref: http://fuel.ly/115934 ODO is now 2260
     
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  3. Since the Plug-In is not sold here in the Dallas area. I want everyone to know - mine's a plug-in.
    http://rowlett.ws/phv/jims_prius_album/tn/jims_prius_19.jpg.html
    http://rowlett.ws/phv/jims_prius_album/tn/jims_prius_20.jpg.html
     
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  4. Thanks for sharing the picture. The vinyl stickers look great and make it much more obvious that it is a Plug-in.
     
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  5. I couldn't get the fuel.ly link to work.
     
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  6. The EV only range is actually only 6-miles. So perhaps the low profile of the PiP is appropriate.
     
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  7. Toyota says the EV only range is 11 miles. I consistently get over 13 miles. The other day I got 16.7 EV miles.
     
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  8. Look again at the EPA window sticker. 6 miles in EV mode and 11 miles in blended mode.

    Great to hear some first hand feedback on the PiP. How do you know your EV only range? and are you sure it is "EV only" or is it "blended".
     
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  9. John, you need to know how 6 miles was derived. In the real-world, owners are getting double that.
     
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  10. Or owners will get NONE Of that. You must drive like an old grandma to get EV mode.
     
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  11. From what I just read on a Consumer Report article, http://www.hybridcars.com/news/consumer-reports-begins-testing-prius-hybrid-plug-45222.html ,it can get 11 miles per charge if you giggle the pedal, but I'm not in a giggly mood, so I consider this plug-in PATHETIC.
     
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  12. So, you are selling the current gas hybrid and the variant like ice water in hell. Why would you want to take a chance on plug-ins? Or, better, what's the incentive to go all battery EV and invest a lot of money on a new bet?

    I can assure you that Toyota can bring a BEV to market anytime it make the decision and I can assure you it will meet their high quality standards. I think that will happen when current hybrid sells drop to a small number.
     
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  13. Did anyone notice in the 2006 movie, "Who killed the electric car?" they featured a Prius plug-in which, they suggested, could go about 60 miles before needing a recharge. The car shown looked like a production model. What happened? In 6 years they haven't yet shipped any 16 mile Prius PEV's to the east coast.
     
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  14. I have had my Prius Plug In for more than a month and still the original tank of gas in less than half used. If I drive legally I can keep up with traffic and stay in EV mode.

    But the issue which will make this car have lasting value is that it substitutes absolute EV purity for using just a little gasoline and gets a car which will do what any car will do including driving 400+ miles without stopping when needed.

    On top of that, its small traction battery will cost a fraction of the price of a BEV traction battery to replace if it comes to that. This car will be a winner in every way!
     
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  15. 6 mile electric only? You got to be kidding me! I've had my PIP since April 23, 2012. Drove it on all electric for 10.6 miles. that's with the climate control off of course. The 10.6 miles is what I'm getting every time I charge it.
     
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