Toyota released the first Prius model in Japan in 1997 and after a very warm welcome by consumers, the company decided to launch the revolutionary hybrid vehicle worldwide in 2000. Since then, the Prius has come a long way. The hybrid technology has won the Prius various awards and accolades, including the all-time most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered car without plug-in capabilities. In April 2016, the total global sales of the top selling hybrid car reached 3.73 million. In 2011, Toyota added the Prius v (larger extended hatchback model) and the Prius c (subcompact) and just released the second generation of the Toyota Prius plug-in model, Prime. Four years ago, Toyota launched the first generation of the Prius plug-in model and promised that there would be an electric-only range that the car could travel. After much disappointment in the very short range of electric-only miles, the first generation car demanded another chance. Enter Prius Prime.
The Toyota Prius Prime is expected to surpass all other hybrids in fuel efficiency and is predicted to be a major success with consumers. Toyota has created a real winner with the Prime as its flagship model being the only plug-in electric vehicle. Rumors circulated that the name Prime had to do with the popular toy and movie series, The Transformers, but in reality the brand manager for Toyota said that Prime represents the best of Prius. Let’s take a closer look into what makes the Prime the best Prius and hybrid yet.
The Prius Prime is the biggest model in the family of revolutionary hybrids. 2.4 inches longer in the body and a mere half an inch wider, the Prime weighs in at 3,362 lbs. Bumping up a weight class (77 lbs more than the regular Prius) is mainly due to the larger 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery. Some of the weight saving comes from the carbon-fiber hatch, which is manufactured by Toyota, not a supplier. While the car is bigger, it only offers four seats. This may seem a bit strange for Toyota to build it with four, but their research indicated that potential customers only wanted four. The back seat offers more room to passengers, especially in the shoulder department. Another reason that four seats seemed to be the best idea is because the larger battery rests under the floor between the two back seats, making it a challenge to build around. Nevertheless, the people wanted four, so Toyota gave them four. While the backseat is more spacious, the trunk lost 7 cubic feet. Not a terrible sacrifice for accommodating the larger battery, but hauling lots of stuff may be a tight squeeze in the Prime.
The necessary call for the plug-in model was that customers wanted an all-electric option while driving. The Prius Prime is capable of traveling 22 miles on its electric charge alone. In the first generation plug-in model, buyers were unhappy with the smaller range and the fact that in full throttle or climbing hills, the car would switch to its gas engine. The Prime has doubled the original range that it can travel on electric alone and completely shuts off the engine when driving on EV (electric vehicle) mode. While the range still falls short of the Hyundai Ioniq (over 25 miles) and the Chevy Volt’s 53-mile range, the Prime does boast a very impressive combined range of over 600 miles. Catering to its customers once again, Toyota’s research showed that over 50 percent of customers would be able to complete their daily commutes on the electric energy alone, and up to 80 percent would be able to charge them at work to increase their range even more. So it seems that while the electric range is less than its competitors, it fits with what a majority of their customers are looking for and that is the most important part.
Other than the larger 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery (twelve times the size of the Prius Eco’s) that increased its EV range, the Prime features the same 121 horsepower as the other Prius models. Toyota claims that the Prime accelerates more quickly to 40mph in its EV mode than it does in its normal hybrid mode and will reach 60mph, either in EV or hybrid, about as fast as previous models. Top speed in EV mode is 84mph, which makes it far more practical for the customers than the first generations top speed of 62mph (estimated). Its 0-60mph time is right about 10 seconds, nothing to be drag racing on the streets but when considering the demographics of the customers and the fact that they are mainly buying it for the fuel efficiency, 10 seconds is quick enough.
The EV mode is the default for starting up if the state of charge (SOC) is enough to support fully electric driving. Once the SOC drops below a level of being able to support EV mode, the engine will turn on and begin hybrid mode. EV Auto mode can be engaged after startup to allow the car to switch back and forth between EV and hybrid modes to maximize the efficiency.
The interior details of the car won’t be discussed, as there aren’t many changes aside from the back seat, however something that tech junkies and the younger generations will enjoy is the 11.6-inch vertically oriented touchscreen to handle all the needs while on the road, including a charging-station finder.
The Prius Prime is said to be available this fall and prices are expected to be right around the $30,000 mark, maybe a bit more. The customers are anxious to get their hands on the all-new hybrid. Improving upon the weak points from the first generation and adding some unique features, the Prius Prime will not disappoint.
If you find yourself the happy new owner of the Prius Prime or any other Toyota, Acura, Lexus or Scion vehicle, you can find all the accessories and replacement parts you need at Discount Parts Monster. Check out their website where you can search by brand and model to find everything you need and things you want. Visit www.discountpartsmonster.com