Toyota has been running 20 Prius Plug-ins round London, and the interim findings are that they are more economical than a diesel and perfectly suited to urban driving.
We though we ought to do Toyota the courtesy of a non-disparaging headline after the first interim results of trials of the Prius Plug-in in the hands of drivers in London have turned out to be very positive.
Toyota and EDF Energy have supplied – on lease – 20 plug-in hybrids (PHEV) to London businesses and organisations (no Joe Public on this trial) to get some real-world feedback on usage, journey distance and recharging patterns.
For those of you who don’t remember, the Toyota Prius Plug-in is a regular 3rd Gen Prius but with a length of flex and a set of lithium-ion batteries that allows users to grab some charge from the mains and to drive further in EV mode – up to 12.5 miles in perfect conditions.
The trial is no five minute wonder either, but a three year trial to establish proper feedback on the pros and cons of a plug-in hybrid in City life. And we fully expected the results to be positive for the plug-in Prius, because daily driving in congested urban areas is exactly what the plug-in should excel at. And it is showing how good it is in the urban environment. The findings so far are that:
- Average journey distance has been 7.3 miles, with 59 per cent of all journeys covering between 3.1 and 12.4 miles
- Average speed has been 17.7mph, with 69 per cent of journeys at speeds less than 18.6mph
- Initial fuel consumption data indicate performance is 27 per cent better than an equivalent diesel
- Average recharging time is 72 minutes
- Where drivers have access to a domestic charge point, more frequent recharging occurs
Despite our oft-stated antipathy toward the Prius hybrid system, when we reviewed the regular Prius earlier this year we declared it an absolutely brilliant transport appliance. And, in an urban environment, the plug-in Prius promises to be significantly better.
And it won’t matter that the Prius is an unexciting drive because the stop start and thrust of urban motoring gives no call for a decent set of handling manners or subtle feedback; better to be insulated from the melee and cocooned in an economic form of transport. The plug-in Prius delivers on those terms very well.
It also – and we approve massively – offers very low NOx and PM emissions and, with much of the journeys being run in EV mode, even the bulk of that is moved out of the city.
So the results are commendable and show that Toyota has produced in the Prius plug-in a car perfectly suited to its environment, and one which offers promise for those who can afford to pay the huge premium any hybrid or electric car imposes on the buyer. Sorry, but we had to inject a dose of reality. And the reality is the cost-benefit analysis.
Still, good news the Prius plug-in is doing all that Toyota promised it would.