The Toyota Prius Plug In Hybrid is on the way and reports say that the plug in aspect will push the Prius from 50 miles per gallon to the equivalent of about 75 miles per gallon. So how will the Toyota Prius Plug In Hybrid (Prius PHEV) compare to the Chevy Volt?

California Loves The Prius, The Feds Love The Volt

California has given the new Prius PHEV the green light to travel in the HOV lane on California highways – the reason being that the Prius PHEV has very low emissions. The Chevy Volt, however, does not have the privilege to travel in the California HOV lane. While consumers of the Chevy Volt miss out on the HOV lane in California, those who do buy a Chevy Volt get the full federal tax credit of $7,500 due to the large battery pack in the Volt. Those who buy the Prius PHEV will only get a $2,500 Federal tax credit.

The Chevy Volt has received a lot of backlash due to the high sticker price of the vehicle. The federal tax credit does alleviate some of the sticker shock; but the even with the tax credit applied to the Volt, the new Prius PHEV will cost start around $2,000 less than the Volt. The top tier Prius PHEV (i.e. the one most people will buy) will cost around $40,000.

The cost of the new plug in hybrid electric vehicles is a major sticking point to consumers and so is the range of the vehicles. With plug in hybrid electric vehicles the vehicle starts out running on an electric battery. Once that battery is depleted the car than uses traditional gasoline to power the car. This is great because when the battery dies in the car the driver is not stranded without a place to plug their car in so that the batteries can recharge.

The drawback is the car still uses gas so the driver of the car will still have to travel to the pump, although much less frequently than the driver of traditionally gas powered vehicle. The Chevy Volt has an EPA listing of 35 estimated miles of electric range and 37 miles per gallon (mpg) after the battery has been depleted. The new Prius PHEV has 14 estimated miles of electric range and 49 mpg while traveling in hybrid mode.

Volt For Short Jaunts, Prius PHEV For long Trips

Stark differences for sure between the two vehicles. Yet which vehicle costs more to drive? Pike Research came up with the chart above that assumes that gas prices for a regular gallon of gas stands at $3.50 a gallon, and electricity costs 11 cents per kilowatt hour. It also assumes that both the Volt and Prius PHEV are driven until their batty packs are completely drained, in which case the Volt’s 35 estimated miles of electric range makes the Volt less expensive to drive as long as the driver keeps to 70 miles or less in between battery charges. If the driver goes over 70 miles than the Prius PHEV though, with the better fuel economy of the Prius PHEV makes it the cheaper car to drive.

One thing that throws a wrench into the works is the fact that the Chevy Volt requires premium gas not regular. Depending on where you live premium gas can run upwards of $4.50 a gallon, add another win to the Prius PHEV column.

The new batch of electric, hybrid, and hybrid electric vehicles have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Consumers may not be accepting these vehicles at large rates right now, but there is a movement out there and it is growing.

For now, it is important for consumers who are planning on buying an electric, hybrid, or hybrid electric vehicle to do their homework and see what make and model will work best for them given their daily driving needs.

Source: Plug-In Cars

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.