Is the Prius Prime About to Go All Electric?

CC BY-SA 2.0. mariordo59

Kyle Field over at Cleantechnica thinks he sees some hints of full electrification on the horizon...

When I wrote that we may need shorter range electric cars, some people thought I had a point. Others thought I was nuts. But what I was really saying was that we need options. What works for one driver, or one family, may not work for another. So we need a broader range of plug-in vehicles including road-trip worthy EVs with longer ranges, around-town cars with shorter ranges and lower price points, and plug-in hybrids with decent range too.

According to Kyle Fields over at Cleantechnica, who confesses to being skeptical before getting behind the wheel, the all new Prius Prime may help deliver on a couple of these fronts—first, by offering 25 miles of range from its relatively small 8.8 kWh battery. Not only does that represent a doubling of battery electric range compared to previous versions, but Fields reports that the car is much better designed to drive primarily in electric, rather than having gas kick in at highway speeds. Of the 400 or so miles he drove in the new Prime, he reports that 95% were all electric.

That's exciting, because you can get 95% of miles all electric, and then get Prius-like efficiency on your road trips. (Compare that to my Pacifica eHybrid which barely uses fuel around town, yet represents only moderate efficiency improvements on road trips.) In other words, you're getting most of the efficiency benefits of an all electric vehicle, yet with the range/refuelling benefits of a gas car. And that matters, for now, until charging infrastructure catches up. And you're getting it at a starting price of $27,100.

Speaking of which, here's the second reason Fields appears excited: When you open up the charging port of The Prius Prime, it looks like there's plenty of room for a DC fast charging port. That makes little difference for now, of course, because the charging port itself isn't actually there. But it suggests something significant: The only reason why you'd build in room for DC fast charging capability is if either an all-electric version, or at least a plug-in hybrid with significantly more range, is in the works in the not too distant future.

Even though I'm seeing more and more plug-in cars on the road today, I still see way more Priuses than I do Teslas or Leafs or Volts. If Toyota starts getting serious about adding longer range plug-in capabilities, there's a good chance that many folks familiar with the existing family will take the leap into truly electric driving.

And that can only be a good thing. Head on over to Cleantechnica for the full and very revealing review of the 2017 Prius Prime.