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back to article Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid car review

Extended electric-only driving range has been a long time coming to hybrid cars but with the arrival of the Vauxhall Ampera and now Toyota’s Prius Plug-in the breed may finally shake off the reputation of vehicles that only exist because Americans don’t like diesels. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid car The mains attraction: Toyota' …

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Anonymous Coward

It also comes with a 2 mile long extension lead built into the front bumper, just in case you can't find a charger.

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???

Or the 9.9 gallon petrol tank?

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Read the article

This is a normal hybrid car with a plug-in option. Read the article before picking a fault that doesn't exist.

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Anonymous Coward

There's someone who didn't bother the actually read the article...

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Anonymous Coward

No one comments on,

1. How expensive it is

2. How Eco friendly the batteries are

3 How the new 3 cylinder Ford engines are quicker and give better fuel economy

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By my estimate, that car could buy me the price I paid for my current car, plus all the repairs and MOT's etc. I've had over the past three years I've had it, plus just over 7 years worth of fuel at my normal usage (current prices, obviously). That's not counting ANY fuel or electricity for the Prius.

So by the time the warranty on that dies, my current car will have just cost me slightly more than this cost to buy, if you never plugged in or fuelled the Prius and didn't use it at all. Oh, and I won't have to pay for an expensive battery when that happens either.

Sure, someone, somewhere probably finds it quite attractive compared to what they are currently driving, but that's literally my entire travel budget for the next 5 years, plus inflation, plus some more, before you even start the engine.

Oh, and last time I sold a very similar car to mine, of a very similar age, I actually got more for it scrap value than it had cost to buy. What's the scrap price of a hybrid with a duff battery that costs almost as much as the car itself to replace? Anyone know? Is it £30,000 or thereabouts?

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@Lee

I confess I am struggling to see your point. The same calculation holds true whatever new, family-sized car you consider when compared to older second-hand cars, so why do you spend all that time typing it up?

Speaking as someone who was in the fortunate position of having enough money to consider buying a new car a couple of years ago, I compared the Prius against various other similarly sized and equipped cars, notably the Mondeo, and came to the conclusion that the Prius had a massively lower TCO over the 4-5 years I am likely to keep it (not least because the low emissions makes it a very tax-efficient car to own for those of us who run companies). It's also a very nice car to drive, in my opinion, which was a bonus.

GJC

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Re: @Lee

My point is that if you're trying to get people to buy eco-friendly cars, those with £30k in their pocket aren't your target market. Because the guy in the 20-year-old Transit, burning fuel like nobody's business, is doing more damage than 100 of the new-car-buyers and paying less to do so.

So:

1) Why are we saying these cars are "green"?

2) Why are we subsidising these at great expense (including your precious-to-business road tax exemptions)?

3) Why aren't we targeting the market that matters yet, and let those with money to burn (£30k to last 5 years? That's nearly 100 second-hand cars, with a year's MOT and tax in my experience. I could buy and own two second-hand cars every week for that - and if I sold them for even 1/2 the purchase price 3 days later, I could keep going for my entire life) waste it on new cars.

4) Why are we buoying up the car industry at all in times of fiscal hardship?

Honestly, produce a "green" car for £6000 that does even just 60mph (enough for motorway by law) at a decent distance and you'll cut emissions in half withing the decade. But fancy "hybrid" that are still burning petrol, still not miraculously efficient, still digging up lithium, still pumping tons of waste into landfill within years, and still around £30k even with subsidies and you're wasting your time.

P.S. I own a second-hand Mondeo.

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Re: @Lee

I too priced up a prius vs ford. The ford won by a country mile. I bought a ford SMAX in 2009 it cost me £19700 (its a 2.5T titanium with no extras or metallic) bought it from drivethedeal and it was delivered to my door (it is a european RHD car with UK V5 in my name so no dodgy stuff).

I couldnt get a prius with any sort of discount at all. Price at the time was circa 23k Insurance is about £100 more for the ford, tax is about £200 fuel is far more at 25mpg on average. But all together it isnt 3K more over 3 years.

How much does a major 3 year service cost on a prius (with those batteries?) I reckon that will cost a little bit. Plus my 224gCO2 2.5T is far far nicer to drive, bigger inside and the same chassis as a mondeo. Residual cost in my SMAX - I got an offer of 11k dealership trade in with my 3 year service (I have no intention of swapping) so without haggling im 8k down in 3 years. Pretty good depreciation (obviously the car is worth more, probably 13.5k+)

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@Danny 14 Re: @Lee

@Danny 14,

You're believing hype I'm afraid.

"How much does a major 3 year service cost on a prius (with those batteries?)"

Batteries require no servicing, ever. They will last the lifetime of the car.

The Prius will also have a higher residual value over the same period.

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Re: @Danny 14 @Lee

"Batteries require no servicing, ever. They will last the lifetime of the car."

In the sense, presumably, that the car's economic lifetime is limited to how long the batteries last.

I'm sorry, I can't get excited about the Prius. It just looks like a slow, ugly, cramped, expensive car. If somebody proves conclusively that it will save the planet for us, maybe that's worth it.

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Boffin

Re: @Danny 14

I paid £24k for my Prius, with all the toys. Road tax is free, fuel costs will be a little better than the SMAX, I tend to average around 60-65mpg (on petrol, which is currently 5-6p/litre cheaper than diesel). Servicing is dirt cheap - the engine is completely belt-less, so the most expensive service I've had in 50,000 miles has been a touch over £200. Mostly they are £130, every 10,000 miles. Tyre last 50,000 miles on the front, and an unknown but huge distance on the rear.

But, and this is the kicker, the Benefit in Kind rating is 10%, so I can run it as a company car without incurring horrendous income tax and NI liabilities. Oh, and because the CO2 emissions are below 120g/km, I could write off the expenditure against corporation tax in a single year. None of this would have applied to anything family-sized in the Ford range at the time I was looking. As I say, the TCO was way lower than any of the directly competing models.

GJC

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95%?

I can see the reson for the high score, but you can buy two ford focuses for that. or one, and an enormous amount of petrol.

It's getting cleverer, but what is the lifetime energy budget? By the time you have made, shipped, exchanged, recycled, and disposed of the batteries, are we collectively better off.

[BFO ? icon]

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 95%?

There must be a typo. 95% for that thing? Seriously

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Elephant in the room

The big issue with all these hybrids that this review, at least, fails to mention, is the life expectancy and replacement cost of the batteries.

Based on the purchase price alone, these cars are expensive (as mentioned by others) Add in replacing the batteries after X years, and the price just goes through the roof.

My current car (bought new) has lasted me over 12 years so far with minimal expensive other than routine servicing (and cost a lot less than £30K too !). Will any of these hybrid cars last as long without an expensive battery change ? Highly unlikely.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Elephant in the room

If you're in London then this car doesn't have to pay the congestion charge. That's quite a saving.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Elephant in the room

Have you ever heard of anyone changing a battery? I have certainly heard of engine changes, even had to have one myself. if the bqatteries do last 16 years before becoming half powered I doubt anyone will bother spending so much on tha 16yo car, if a 16 yo car needs a new engine its usually scrpped/recycled.

Don't forget that a battery at end of life still has the same mass of chemical as when it was new, recycling is very feasible and the batteries are still worth a lot of money when dead.

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Boffin

Re: Elephant in the room

There are plenty of 12 year old Priuses around. Most are still on the original battery pack. Toyota provides something like ten years of warranty for the battery pack, if I remember correctly.

GJC

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Unhappy

Re: Elephant in the room

Agreed,

But the real elephant in the room is the Governments £5k subsidy on these cars which only the well off are ever going to buy. For most of us, if we want a car of a similar size, we are not going to fork out £25k or £30k (more like £12k - £18k) whatever the subsidy.

Instead, those of us who cannot afford to buy one of these eco-toys have to put up with spiralling fuel and car tax, part of which funds this rich-kid bonus.

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Re: Elephant in the room

Agreed. Considering the Government is broke and cutting welfare, why are we wasting money subsidising overpriced cars?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Elephant in the room

Well you should say the same about wind power and solar installations as well.

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Re: Elephant in the room

The only way to get that kind of life out of the battery is not to use it much which is why the original Pious only used the middle 30% or so of the battery capacity and had no mains charging or battery only operation facility.

If people charge and use most of the battery capacity daily the battery will be knackered in 2-3 years.

Electric cars are shit because batteries are shit. The idea that we will increasingly burn gas to generate electricity to charge electric car batteries instead of burning the gas directly in the car is bat shit crazy.

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Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

The original Prius does indeed have an EV mode, and uses something around 70-80% of the battery capacity, but thank you for that stunning display of ignorance, it quite made my day.

GJC

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Re: Elephant in the room

I partially agree but wind power and solar installations do actually reduce our need for fossil fuels. Electric cars only increases electricity demand, and therefore the amound of coal/gas that is burned.

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Re: Elephant in the room

Battery cost matters on a true electric car like a Nissan Leaf or a Tesla Roadster. It doesn't matter on a Prius, because it's just a medium size petrol car with a battery bolted on to pull it down the tax bands a bit. Most Priuses will drive on engine power for 99% of the time, so even if the battery falls to 10% of original (meagre) capacity it will have no real effect.

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an EV mode ...

For trivially small distances, and needs to recharge from the engine. Big, fair, hairy deal.

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Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

Geoff,

The original Prius did have an EV mode but the only way to charge the battery was to start the engine...using petrol. Hardly "battery only", as I believe JP19 was alluding too.

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Re: Elephant in the room

"Battery cost matters on a true electric car like a Nissan Leaf or a Tesla Roadster. It doesn't matter on a Prius, because it's just a medium size petrol car with a battery bolted on to pull it down the tax bands a bit. Most Priuses will drive on engine power for 99% of the time, so even if the battery falls to 10% of original (meagre) capacity it will have no real effect."

Not entirely sure what you're on about but a standard Prius engine won't be running for 40% of a typical 40 miles journey. Even less on the plug-in version as the battery only range is further. This reduces cost to run, but increases cost to buy.

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Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

The battery is also charged by regenerative braking. Has anyone here except me ever driven one? The comments are suggesting not.

GJC

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Re: Elephant in the room @Geoff

Geoff: "The battery is also charged by regenerative braking. Has anyone here except me ever driven one? The comments are suggesting not."

And where does the energy in the braking come from? Kinetic energy...movement. And where does the movement come from? The petrol engine.

The regnerative braking reduces losses, it doesn't create energy. I've been a hybrid owners for years but I also know how they work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Elephant in the room

Allow me to ask this question as an American who has been to London a few times:

Why on Earth would any sane person WANT to drive a car into the congestion charge zones? Take the friggin' Tube! Why would you want to deal with the issue of parking, the traffic, etc? It seems to me that is you had to be in those zones enough that the congestion charge is a significant factor in your life you would not need to have a car.

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WTF?

Re: Elephant in the room @Geoff

Bit nit-picky, that, but if that's you want to play it, fine, you're right, I'm wrong.

GJC

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Re: Elephant in the room

"If you're in London then this car doesn't have to pay the congestion charge. That's quite a saving."

LPG conversion costs about £1000 on your existing car, saves you half your money on petrol, and does the same (and also zero road tax, I believe).

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Boffin

Re: LPG

Only very, very specific LPG conversions carried out by approved installers are exempt from congestion charge (check out the Powershift scheme, unless the bloody government have renamed it again). In the past, I've found it cheaper to use a non-registered installer and carry on paying the congestion charge, although to be fair I don't go to London that much.

Also, the discount on road tax for LPG is about a tenner a year.

GJC

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Boffin

Re: Congestion Charge

Oh, one further thing - the Prius is exempt from congestion charges, however the car needs to be registered as exempt, for a charge of a tenner a year. Worth doing even if you only drive inside the zone once a year, just to avoid the hassle of paying the charge, though.

GJC

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Re: Elephant in the room

"LPG conversion costs about £1000 on your existing car, saves you half your money on petrol, and does the same (and also zero road tax, I believe)."

Except a decent conversion usually cost a bit more than that. It will also invalidate any warranty on your car, although the LPG installer may cover some bits. It will also take up a large proportion of your boot, or require you to lose your spare wheel if you already have one. It's also not always congetion charge exempt. It also won't usually give you zero road tax, but you may be eligible for a reduction. It's also not available for many modern cars due to incompatibility with fuel injectors. LPG is cheaper but you need more or it to go the same distance which, given the small gas tank, means you have to refuel a lot to get the full benefit. Apart from that, it's great ;)

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MJI
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Re: Elephant in the room

I use LPG.

It saves me about £150 a month

As to fitting I prefer DIY

Injection cars are easier the electrical systems piggyback

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Re: Elephant in the room @Geoff

Literally speaking yes, but in context no. As conventional vehicles throw all that away it is, effectively, energy for free. You are not burning any more fuel, just being a hell of a sight more efficient at what you do with it.

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Re: Elephant in the room

"Injection cars are easier the electrical systems piggyback..."

Bit drilling the manifold for the LPG injectors is a bitch. Unless you're talking about putting a single-mixer system on a modern, fuel injected, vehicle. A heinous, inefficient abortion of an approach that should be banned and which no reputable installer would countenance.

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Re: Elephant in the room

"I use LPG.

It saves me about £150 a month

As to fitting I prefer DIY"

Unless a certified install, it likely invalidates your insurance and is illegal.

All fitted parts must carry a logo for EU approval. They can only be purchased by legal installers. Unless you are one, you're likely a potential fireball on our roads.

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FAIL

Ben Rose --> Posted Monday 29th October 2012 10:48 GMT

wind power has not caused a single closure of any power station; because my friend you have to cater for when the wind doesn't blow.

In fact the randomness of the availability of wind power causes proper power stations to be run slightly (to considerably) more inefficiently.

In fact the cost of connecting wind mill powered electricity generators to the Grid is massive.

In fact; without the subsidy to build

the subsidy to own and the guaranteed extortionate price per KW the Grid has to pay when ever the wind does blow (regardless of whether the Grid needs more power)

no one in their right mind would touch the stupid things with a barge pole

Solar has the same problem - only it is guaranteed to be UNavailable for on average 12 hours a day over any 360 day period - so again you have to provision a REAL power station for night time use ; and those frequent periods when the dank grey clouds make the UK such a warm bright light and wondrous place (/sarc).

February 2012 - 2 weeks of no wind; sun for about 7 hours a day; just where is all that lecky going to come from to power those lecky cars (and the rail ways and the factories and the offices and the homes...) if any more of those engineering abortions are imposed at vast expense on the people of this once great country.

see here for an engineering critique :

http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Renewable%20Energy%20Limitations.pdf

and here to get some idea of how wind power does NOT track demand in any useful way :

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

and you can also see the large periods where wind power contributes the equivalent of stuff all power to the Grid - < 25% availability - never mind; shanks pony is soo much more healthy; as no doubt is freezing.

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@peter_dtm - Re: Ben Rose --> Posted Monday 29th October 2012 10:48 GMT

You're preaching to the converted, don't think that I'm a big supporter of renewables.

Regardless of how limited and costly they are though, every kWh that comes from them is a kWh that doesn't have to come from fossil fuels. I do appreciate that efficiency of power stations may be affected by them at times though.

Renewable Energy without the hot air is a good read.

http://www.withouthotair.com/

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Re: Elephant in the room @Geoff

Ah yes the regen braking had a pious hire when we were in vegas earlier this year eventually the car turns the engine on for more braking once the battery hits 'full' such as the descent into death valley from the Nevada side.

I to thought it a nice motor to drive, loved the 300ish ft lb torque coupled to traction control, WHooosh up to about 25mph just the ticket in traffic. Handles quite flat too minimal body roll etc. Bit of a wanderer though I suspect tracking set to zero rather than a little toe out, made the car need constant finger corrections when on the highway at speed which became a bit of a pain after a couple of hours, needlessly tiring. av petrol consumption was 50-52mpg on the interstates doing around 70-75 with AC on all of the time. 38-40 mpg around Vegas no better than our Skoda 1.2 Cruise control very good, interesting to watch it changing between battery and engine on long climbs, fiddle with he cruise control and prevent the engine go in to er how to discribe... 'noisy mode' Pious drivers will know what I mean :-)

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MJI
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Re: Manifold drilling

That was not difficult, took me about an hour.

4 weekends to convert a 6 cylinder car with fuel injection to a SGI LPG system

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MJI
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DIY LPG

I followed COP II, I had it inspected afterwards. It passed.

I have seen very poor professional installs, including routing wiring next to exhaust components.

The you must have a professional install for LPG is rubbish, it is not that difficult, if you can do serious car maintenance you can do it.

Seven years on a DIY install still working, I am happy. I took my time and did it properly, no running wiring under the car, I took it through the insides, I managed to very carefully route the piping and tuck it out of the way.

I know of quite a few DIY installs and they are all a lot better sorted than a lot of professional installs.

A lot of professional installs do not even remove the inlet manifold to drill it, so any swarf that drops in goes in the engine.

Sorry with LPG I am getting it done properly, by me.

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Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

From http://www.eaa-phev.org/wiki/Prius_EV_Mode_Button

"The EV Mode Button is a standard part of the Japan and EU Prius but was not installed in the US versions, perhaps because of extended warranties in Ca due to AT-PZEV regulations and qualifications criteria."

The EV button knackers the battery. Couldn't meet stricter warranty requirements with it. I remember reading part of those warranty requirements was a 10 year battery life.

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Re: Elephant in the room @JP19

It isn't charged by regenerative braking (unless you happen to be at the top of an endless hill).

It recovers some of the energy which would go into the discs and drums of a conventional car.

Unless you drive with two lead feet conventional car discs and drums barely get warm most of the time, the potential for energy recovery is trivial.

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Facepalm

"This makes for an altogether more enjoyable and rapid motoring experience."

I very much doubt it..

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Boffin

Ampera

For me the principles behind the Ampera make more sense, would be great if there was an article comparing both in detail.

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