Get-off oil crowd will choose Volt over Plug-in Prius


editors-blog-entry3It’s one of the most irritating critiques of electric vehicles, you know, the one where the critic basically concludes that an electric car won’t work for him – and here’s where he slips into the logically fallacious reasoning of a self-absorbed fool – therefore it won’t work for anyone else on the planet.

According to this line of “reasoning”, not a single other human being will buy a plug-in because, as we all know, everyone else only wants and needs exactly what we, ourselves, want and need.


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It’s bad enough when this argument is hoisted upon us by the true, blue (or should I say true-red?) anti-EVers and anti-greenies.

It’s positively ridiculous when one of “us” plugs into this reasoning, you know, someone who appears to support greener driving that will reduce our dependence on oil.

Plug-in Prius vs. Volt
Lately, I’ve been seeing more than my fair share of this sentiment in commentary both by automotive media journalists and in the comment streams below articles in relation to the Toyota Plug-in Prius, for example, in a ridiculously one-sided, one-dimensional story on the CNN-Money web site, in which the author claims the Plug-in Prius will make the Volt passe.

Due out sometime in 2012 in the U.S, the Plug-in Prius typically gets the thumbs-up over the Volt from this crowd on the count that it’s cheaper, both to buy, and, allegedly, to fuel. It’s also claimed that “no one” really wants or needs the extra battery only range of the Volt. The Plug-in Prius supposedly can go somewhere around 12 miles on battery only, but ONLY if you avoid highway driving, as opposed to the 25 to 40 mile all-electric range of the Volt.

For instance, check out this comment from “Ramon” in response to a recent entry about Toyota’s new plug-in lineup at AllCarsElectric.Com:

The Prius makes a lot more sense than the Volt, gets a WHOLE LOT better gas mileage (50 versus 35) and 12 miles of electric propulsion can eliminate as much gas usage as the Volt for probably 50% of the Volt owners, judging by commuting data. Also costs a lot less and is far more
space efficient and has a simpler and proven design. And there will be no $10,000+ battery replacement costs in 8 years.

More all-electric range please!
Ok, so Ramon does qualify here, claiming that the Plug-in Prius is better for 50% of Volt owners. But it’s also clear he’s assuming something pretty crucial about which he also very, very wrong:

volt-buildingBecause high gas mileage is his goal, and he’s apparently not very interested in how many all-electric miles he’ll get, Ramon seems to  assume most people are seeing things the same way he is.

Oh, so not true, Ramon. So not true.

There are plenty of us for whom the all-electric range AND top speed in which a plug-in can achieve in all-electric mode matter a great deal.

We want to say goodbye to oil as much as we possibly can. We’ll drive a PHEV primarily in all-electric mode — in fact, according to GM, about two-thirds of the two million miles driven by Volt owners so far have been electric miles — and we may only fill up once every two, three, four, five, hell, even once every six months.

A PHEV that only gets us 12 measly all-electric miles and which we can’t drive on the highway for fear of the gas engine kicking in is very definitely not for us.

That pretty much describes the Toyota Plug-in Prius, as far as I can tell.

Plug-in Prius not for us
So, Ramon, a lot of us won’t be buying a Toyota Plug-in Prius.



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It won’t do what we want it to do, meaning it won’t get us off of gasoline as much as possible. The Volt, and any other PHEV which can get us farther and faster in all-electric mode – the farther and the faster the better – get us closer to zero oil.

In short, what works best for you, might not work best for me, and what works best for me, might not work best for you.

A pretty simple and obvious concept, eh?

So why is it that it seems to escape so many people time and time again?

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