The first 1000km in our Toyota Prius PHV
It’s not pure-of-EV-heart, but our plug-in Prius is still proving to be an extremely green choice.
I’m learning that you can’t be a purist when you drive a plug-in hybrid.
Electric Vehicle (EV) ‘‘evangelists’’ (that’s the most polite term I can think of) have been telling me that for ages, of course. For many, any plug-in that’s not fully electric is either cheating or regarded as a planetkiller like every other combustion-engine car on the road.
I’ve just covered 1000km in our long-term Toyota Signature Class 2014-vintage Prius PHV and I’m still nowhere near visiting a petrol station for the first time. So I’m good, thanks.
But maximising our pureelectric motoring is indeed the point of having the Prius PHV and that’s the bit I’ve had to come to terms with. Trickle-charging it at home overnight gets just over 20km range into the battery, which is not quite enough to get me to work and back (it’s 26km all-up).
To begin with it was tempting to just run the PHV in EV-mode until it went flat, which got me to work and a bit of the way back again before it it turned into a standard Prius. But given that I’m a bit EV-OCD, that proved a recipe for frustration; because the PHV seems to be quite temperature-sensitive in winter.
The car lives in a carport, so it’s covered but still out in the cold. You can have a full charge and be running in EV-mode, but the car still often insists on running the petrol engine generator-style for 2-3km on startup. Batteries do operate best with a little heat in them, so I’m assuming Toyota has calculated this is an efficient way to achieve that.
It certainly doesn’t happen when the car is garaged overnight, which it has been on a number of occasions. When it starts out warm and snuggly, it sticks to EV mode no matter what.
However, it is frustrating to have your plug-in in full-EV mode and still be hearing the hum of an Atkinson Cycle petrol engine in the cabin. If I’m eating up my precious battery power, I expect total silence.
So I’ve taken to being a bit more proactive with the EV/HV button, which allows you to switch between electric and hybrid operation. In the latter, the current state of battery charge is saved until you go back to EV configuration.
For my morning commute I’m generally now keeping it in HV until the car is warmed up. I also opt for HV in motorway running and on big hills, but stick to EV in urban driving whenever possible.
And of course the ultimate in nerdy fun is to try and run out of battery in EV-mode just as I arrive home at night to recharge. Perhaps I’ve said too much.
Who said driving a plug-in isn’t engaging? Getting the most out of my electricity is keeping me very busy behind the wheel. Enjoying the challenge, actually.
Anyway, after 1000km the trip computer tells me we’ve driven 36 per cent of that in EV mode. Of course, the car has been on electric power a lot more than that, because it often runs just on battery even when it’s in the HV setting (like a regular Prius, in other words).
We’ve averaged 3.41 litres overall, which is actually a remarkable figure. Achieved with lots of help from electricity, of course.
Another part of this project is keep close tabs on how far individual journeys are for a real car driven by a real person for
Prius PHV at a racetrack. That’s ‘‘at’’ a racetrack, not ‘‘on’’ a racetrack. Let’s stay sensible.