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Toyota Prius Plug-In Vs Chevy Volt: Which Is Cheaper Per Mile?

Bridging the gap between battery electric vehicles and gasoline-electric hybrids we find cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In and the 2012 Chevrolet Volt.

Both are essentially hybrid vehicles, but use the technology in different ways to achieve different aims.

Ultimately though, which vehicle costs less to run? Ray Iannuzzelli at has saved us all the leg-work by calculating the cost per mile of each vehicle–and the sort of journeys over which each car would be preferable.

Ray used EPA data wherever available to work out the cost per mile of each vehicle. This meant considering the electric range of each vehicle–an average range of 42 miles on electric power in the Volt, and 13 miles in the plug-in Prius. It also considered the mileage figures, giving the Volt combined mileage of 37mpg and the Prius, 50mpg, both on gasoline alone.

Dollars per mile

The first graph is perhaps most interesting, illustrating the range over which each car benefits.

The Volt has a clear advantage up to 65 miles, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. The Prius actually shows an advantage below 16 miles, which Ray suspects is down to its brief electric range, but also being more efficient on electricity alone thanks to its lower weight–the plug-in Prius uses only 0.29 kw-hr/mile compared to the Volt’s 0.36 kw-hr/mile.


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