Prius Plug-in off to a strong start

The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid has sold over 6,000 units in its first six months on sale. Ingram writes that the demand is due to the Prius Plug-In's excellent fuel economy and its relative value next to the Chevy Volt.

David Zalubowski/AP/File
This February 2012 file photo shows a line of 2012 Prius sedans at a Toyota dealership in the south Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo. The Prius Plug-in is rated at 95 MPGe in EV mode, and 50 MPG combined on gas only, Ingram writes.

The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In hybrid has got off to a good start in its first six months on sale, with over 6,000 units sold so far.

That, says Toyota, is more than the first six months of Chevrolet Volt sales, at 2,745 units, and Nissan Leaf sales, which managed 3,875 cars in its first month.

Toyota is putting demand for the Prius Plug-In down to not just its fuel economy--rated at 95 MPGe in EV mode, and 50 MPG combined on gas only--but also for its relative value next to the Chevy Volt, and lack of range anxiety next to pure electrics like the Leaf.

The Prius name may also have something to do with those sales, as for previous Prius owners, familiarity with the existing model will go a long way--longer electric range aside, it feels no different to drive.

Owners seem pleased with the experience so far, too.

Just as buyers of the Chevy Volt are finding, the extra EV range is genuinely useful, even if it doesn't entirely cover an owner's commute. Naturally, the Volt handles this better than the Prius, thanks to its 35-mile electric range--the Prius Plug-In is rated at 11 miles by the EPA.

Even so, Prius owners are recording high MPG figures on the car's computer--one owner recording 136 MPG after 4,000 miles with a 31-mile each way commute, and another managing 120 MPG on his own commute, mostly done at low speeds in EV mode. We managed 104 MPG on our most recent drive in the car, and eked out 12 miles of EV range before the gasoline engine kicked in.

A full charge of the Plug-In's 4.4 kWh lithium-ion battery takes around 2.5 to 3 hours from a standard 120V outlet, or 1.5 hours from a 240V charging station.

It also qualifies for a $2,500 Federal Tax Credit if you're eligible, and a further $1,500 rebate as part of California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, taking the $32,000 Prius Plug-In down to as little as $28,000 for a select few.

The car is also eligible for California's HOV lane sticker.

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