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U SA: Toyota Prius Plug-in versus the Chevy Volt, which wins?

The other day we noted that some are comparing sales between the Toyota Prius V vs Chevy Volt, and deciding the Volt is coming up short even though there are a ream of differences between the Prius V and the Volt. The Prius that’s most similar to the Volt is the Toyota Prius Plug-in, but that car has yet to go on sale meaning we don’t know how it will fare in the public versus the Volt.

Both cars are plug-in hybrid vehicles made by major automobile manufacturers. A plug-in hybrid car is one where there is both a gasoline engine and electric motor on-board, and that you can plug-in to recharge the battery pack separately from the gasoline engine. Plug-in hybrids also carry a larger battery pack than on regular (non-plug-in) hybrids, and the larger pack makes for a longer range of electric-only driving. For those of us who want to ease gasoline out of our lives, plugging in the car to recharge the battery pack is the way to go.

While we can now go with pure electric cars from Nissan, Mitsubishi and soon Ford, having a gasoline engine on-board, acting as a generator, is a pragmatic solution to the range consideration due to the 100 mile or so range of pure electric cars. In around-town driving the plug-in hybrid owner will plug in, recharge the battery pack, and drive on electric power until the pack is depleted, at which time, the car fires up the gasoline engine to recharge the battery pack, and if done well the switch-over is seamless. The plug-in hybrid concept is old, and is fairly obvious to any electric car owner who wants more range and is willing to burn fuel to get that range. The first plug-in hybrid was built by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche over 100 years ago, it had four hub motors (motors embedded in the wheels), used the gasoline engine purely to recharge the battery pack, and set speed records in its time.


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