Bengt Halvorson of Green Car Reports did the math on whether or not it’s worth it to buy the forthcoming plug-in version of the Toyota Prius, and the math is ugly:
The Prius has a small battery that holds only enough charge to take the vehicle 14 miles, but that battery charges relatively quickly — four hours on standard house current. Electricity costs about 11 cents per kwh and the battery holds 3.8 of them. All told, this leads to only a marginal cost savings per mile:
Prius Plug-In (100 miles): $6.12
Standard Prius (estimate, 100 mi): $6.98
Difference per 100 miles: $0.86
Difference per 10,000 miles: $86
Difference per 100,000 miles: $860
This, despite the fact that the plug-in Prius Halvorson tested was averaging a Gaian-hard-on inducing 90.8 mpg. The plug-in Prius will sell for between $3,500 and $5,000 more than its non-plug-in cousin, so no way are you making up the difference over the life of the vehicle even if gas prices freaking double, you Kombucha-drinking bikram yoga practitioner.
If you’re willing to pony up that extra scratch in the name of better emissions, however, the plug-in Prius has you covered. Halvorson calculates:
Greenhouse gases (CO2) per 10,000 miles:
Standard Prius: 1.98 tons
Prius Plug-In: 1.18 tons
So there you have it: in this economy, it ain’t easy being green. Until we get either a price on carbon or some kind of serious gas tax, we are stuck sucking the black ichor that issues from Mama Oil’s wretched teat.
(Unless you can just not drive, which is always the best option of all.)
“2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In: By The Numbers, Would It Work For You?” Green Car Reports