Volt vs Prius Plug-In
POSTED: Monday, July 11, 2011 - 5:42pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 6:23pm
In the old days, we gearheads enjoyed the pony car wars among the Big 3, and luckily we still do. But now, comes the rivalry of the future…gas/electric vehicles. So far, it’s Chevrolet with the North American Car of the Year, the Volt; and Toyota with the plug-in version of it’s pioneering Prius Hybrid.
First of all, these cars both plug in to recharge their lithium-ion battery packs. The Prius takes 4 hours, the Chevy 7. Since they will probably charge up overnight, that doesn’t really matter much.
They both run on electric power until the batteries run dry. The Volt will go around 40 miles in this mode, the Prius goes only 15. Then the 4-cylinder engines of both cars kick in. In the Prius, it drives the car itself, and responds to the gas pedal. In the Volt, the engine is essentially a large electric generator feeding the batteries and the electric motor.
They will both give you an extended range of well over 300 miles.
In electric mode, they are both very quiet. Here is the Volt…and the Prius.
On the road, they are, oh what is the word…oh yes, slow. But frankly, they are no slower than an economy car of comparable size. The Volt has 17-inch wheels, the Prius 15.
Mileage is the purpose here. The Volt averages anywhere from 168 miles per gallon if you don’t drive a lot, to 69 per gallon if you do. The Prius is rated at 50 miles per gallon whatever the conditions.
Now, bang for the buck. Both cars qualify for the $7500 tax break for alternative fuel vehicles. The Volt costs $40-grand out the door, so that takes it to the low 30’s. The Prius target price was $33,000, but Reuters is reporting it will be closer to $48,000.
At that price, with the puny electric range, it’s hard to make the case for the Prius’s plug-in technology. Get the Volt, or the standard hybrid Prius for around 30K and you’ll be much better off.
For some reason these cars have become political, but I think they are bi-partisan. After all, what could be more liberal than less pollution. And what could be more conservative than saving money on gas and less imported oil. This could be the common ground everyone talks about.