Electric Car Test Drive – Mitsubishi i and Nissan LEAF

Electric Car Test Drive – Mitsubishi i and Nissan LEAF

Mitsubishi iBy John Addison (10/31/11)

I just drove two electric cars on the same route that included demanding freeway acceleration, cruising along a beautiful ocean highway, serious hill climbing, and maneuvering through street traffic. Let’s compare the Mitsubishi i with a starting price of $29,125 with the Nissan LEAF with a starting price over $6,000 higher.

Mitsubishi will finish 2011 with about 5,000 electric cars on the road globally. Mitsubishi has taken orders for 400 of the Mitsubishi i in the USA and will start dealer deliveries in about 3 months. Nissan will finish 2012 with about 50,000 electric cars on the road globally and 20,000 delivered in the USA.

The Mitsubishi i is a 5-door, 4-seat, microcompact with more room inside than a MiniCooper and friendly outside looks similar to a VW bug. The Nissan LEAF is a 5-door 5-seat, compact hatchback with stylish yet conventional looks.

Mitsubishi i Meets Demands of Test Drive

I started each test drive at a Best Buys in Northern California. Mitsubishi is first touring the West Coast and later other parts of the country letting people take their EV out for a spin. Some showed up solo, others brought the family including kids and car seats. Best Buys will be putting some Mitsubishi i cars into their Geek Squad fleet. Best Buys also sells the Eaton Level 2 charger and can arrange the charger installation in your garage.

Being a pure battery-electric the Mitsubishi i cruised the first mile in near silence, demanding little work from the electric motor. Then I entered a freeway onramp where I was forced to accelerate into merging freeway traffic up a 6-percent grade. I shifted from ECO to Drive mode for better acceleration. On a flat the Mitsubishi can go from zero to 60 in 12 seconds. Up these steep freeway grade the Mitsubishi merged into traffic, slowly accelerated to 70 mph passing a couple of cars and trucks that were struggling with the hill which I purposely selected for this test drive.

When I reached the peak, I was rewarded with a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon. As I took a steep downhill decent, I shifted into “B” which aggressively applied motor resistance for regenerative braking. When I leveled out on Coast Highway, I shifted back into ECO mode that extends the electric range about 10 percent by smoothing acceleration. After 3 miles I ascended another steep hill. ECO mode handled the ascent just fine.

The Mitsubishi i handled curves well. It had a bit of a sports car feel due to its low center of gravity and rear-wheel drive handling with the electric motor over the rear axle finished the drive in stop-go traffic with the car handling lane shifts with ease.

Nissan LEAF Meets Demands of Test Drive with Ease

Nissan LeafOn the identical route, I drove my own Nissan LEAF that has been problem free in all driving situations for six months, rain or shine, day or night. The LEAF merged on to the 6-percent freeway grade with more ease than the Mitsubishi, as I shifted from ECO to “D” (drive mode). The LEAF reach 80 mph faster than the Mitsubishi I reached 65 mph. The LEAF has an 80kW electric motor; Mitsubishi 49kW.

As I descended towards the Pacific Ocean, I shifted into ECO mode. The LEAF does not have a “B” mode for extra regen braking, but like other electric cars it does put energy into the lithium battery pack during downhill, when braking, and even when the computer determines that extra energy can be captured.

Enjoying the drive along Coast Highway, I fishermen casting lines, surfers catching waves, and golfers hiking into the rough. Like the Mitsubishi i the LEAF climbed hills fine in ECO mode, handling windy curves with ease, and cruised the surface streets in silence. The LEAF seemed a bit more quiet than the already quiet Mitsubishi i.

Range Anxiety

The Mitsubishi i appeared to achieve 4.3 miles/kW; the 600-pound heavier LEAF only achieved 3.9 miles/kW. The Mitsubishi did not offer a precise reading, just a display showing battery use. The LEAF offered a precise read-out. I did push the LEAF to 80 mph, so the comparison is not perfect, but indicates that the Mitsubishi uses a bit less electricity. Since I have never paid over $40 per month to keep my LEAF charged; the difference is not much.

The lighter Mitsubishi i has an EPA adjusted range of 62 miles with its 16kW lithium battery pack; the Nissan LEAF has an EPA adjusted range of 73 miles with its 24kW lithium battery pack. Stay in ECO mode and stay below 50 mph and you are likely to have a 100-mile range in the Mitsubishi i and 120 in the LEAF.

In pure electric cars, range concerns are real unless you can afford a Tesla Roadster or the new Tesla Model S with a 300-mile range option. To extend range, I always drive my LEAF in ECO mode and rarely exceed 65 mph. I go for smooth driving and use cruise control. On 10 percent of trips, I use Charge Point or Google Maps to find public charging stations, and sometimes spend an hour or two on the computer in the café as I pick-up 10 to 30 extra miles of range. The 2012 LEAF has a Level 2 Charge of 6.6 kW/hour, double the speed of the Mitsubishi 3.3 kW/hour. For some people, that speed will matter.

The 2012 Nissan LEAF comes standard with both DC Fast Charge (CHAdeMO) and Level 2 Charge ports. The DC Fast Charge is an optional extra on the Mitsubishi and narrows the price difference between the two cars to less than $3,000. With either car, a DC Fast Charge can provide 80 percent range in about 20 minutes. Both cars include a cable so that a 110 volt outlet on a dedicated circuit can be used to trickle charge the car, which turns out to be adequate for most people, as we discovered when we had to wait a few weeks for the installation of our Level 2 garage charger.

Since the average American drives 40 miles per day, the Mitsubishi i will meet the needs of most people. Some will prefer to pay the extra $6,000 for the extra range of the LEAF. Because my wife and I have two cars, range has been no problem in our six months of driving. For longer trips, we use the hybrid and save the LEAF for most days. We are also helped with over 100 public chargers installed in the Bay Area where we live and drive.

If you need one car to meet all your range demands, an electric car may still be the answer if you use car rental, car sharing, and/or transit and rail. Others will be happier with a plug-in hybrid, which stays in electric mode for typical trips and acts like a hybrid for long trips. To extend range, just visit the gas station. The have also been impressed with my test drives of plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in. The 2012 offerings from Ford and Honda are also likely to be impressive.

Nissan LEAF offers more Passenger and Cargo Space

Nissan LEAF trunk baby strollerThe Mitsubishi i has 85 cubic feet of interior space, 13 cubic feet of trunk space, which expands to 50 with the 50/50, split back seats lowered. The Nissan LEAF has 112/8 cubic feet of interior space, 14.5 cubic feet of trunk space, which expands to much more than the Mitsubishi I when 60/40 split back seats are lowered without needing to remove the headrests.

In my LEAF, my wife can load the back for projects at the schools where she is a speech therapist. I can easily fit my bicycle in the LEAF by removing the front wheel of the bike. In the Mitsubishi i, both bicycle wheels would need to be removed and rear seat headrests would need to be removed. If you need to use a rear child seat or two, you will definitely prefer the Nissan LEAF. You will be even happier with the upcoming Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

I have been in a Nissan LEAF sitting behind a 6 foot, 4-inch driver, and then had him sit behind me. The car is a roomy compact that can seat 5. The Mitsubishi would be a tight fit for four big adults. To its credit, the USA version is bigger than the iMiEV driven in Japan and Europe. The Mitsubishi has more passenger space than some city cars I have driven like the Smart and the MiniCooper.

Both Electric Cars Get High Marks for Safety

I felt safe in both cars, even when merging into freeway traffic. Some expressway drivers will feel saver in the larger Nissan LEAF, but this Mitsubishi i received a 4-star rating in stringent crash testing performed by Euro NCAP, a multinational vehicle safety-testing consortium in Europe.

Nissan Leaf is the first electric car to earn five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF earned a 5-star overall vehicle rating for safety as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The Nissan LEAF is the first fully electric vehicle to earn this highest distinction from the program. Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher tests and requirements in order to earn 5-star ratings.

When driving in snow or heavy rains, some will fell safer in the LEAF with its extra 750-plus pounds of weight. If you regularly must deal with snow, ice, and wet roads, you might  do better with an AWD car than in an electric, but you’ll be making regular visits to the gas station.

Both the Mitsubishi i and the Nissan LEAF are wonderful electric cars that are currently being sold faster than they can be made. For some, the choice will be which car they get first. For others, $6,000 will be the deciding factor. After a federal tax credit of $7,500, the entry cost of the Mitsubishi electric car is only $21,625. The savings of no gasoline and little maintenance, save electric car drivers $1,000 to $2,000 per year.

For city drivers fighting for parking spaces, the smaller Mitsubishi i will allow them to fit into spaces that others cannot and save big by avoiding paid parking. The Mitsubishi i is a maneuverable city car that’s fun to drive.

The Nissan LEAF is America’s most popular electric car. It has enough room inside for 5 people and a fair amount of cargo. It has surprising performance and about 15 percent better electric range than the Mitsubishi i. The 2012 LEAF Level 2 charges at twice the speed of the Mitsubishi i. If you need premium features like DC Fast Charging, back-up camera, and hands-free audio, then the price gap between these two cars is less than $3,000.

Select either and you can feel good about helping with our energy security, environment and never being stuck in line for a gas pump. Take a test drive, you’ll enjoy it.

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Electric Cars Compete with Natural Gas and Diesel for Green Car of the Year

Electric Cars Compete with Natural Gas and Diesel for Green Car of the Year

Volt Green Car 2010

The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas was awarded Green Car of the Year® . The 2012 five finalists include the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, 2012 Mitsubishi i, 2012 Toyota Prius v, 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, and 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI. I have been impressed with my test drives of these cars. All will be available for dealer sales by January 2, 2012.

Last year the Chevrolet Volt was the winner. This year, no plug-in hybrids are finalists, only pure battery-electric. In previous years, turbo diesel cars have won such as the Volkswagen Jetta TDI and the Audi A3 TDI. Naturally, the classic Prius Liftback was a past winner. This year the larger crossover Prius v is competing for the top spot.

Any of these five could be the best for you depending on where you drive, your space requirements, and availability of local fueling and charging. One choice may be greener for you than another. If you are disturbed that 96 of our transportation fuel comes from petroleum, and most from countries that could shut-off supply, or from deep water drilling with oil spills, or from tar sands, then an electric car may get your vote. Many electric car drivers that I meet use their solar power to charge their electric cars. For them their green choice from the list would be the Ford Focus Electric or the smaller and less expensive Mitsubishi i. If all your electricity is from a coal power plant and you need the room of an SUV crossover, then the Prius v may be a better choice.

2010 Honda Civic If you champion clean air then the Honda Civic Natural Gas may be your choice. Almost 13 million vehicles globally can be fueled with natural gas. If the fuel comes from bio-methane, then lifecycle emissions are quite small. If the natural gas comes from fracking and flames are coming out of your faucet, then you may make a different choice. This 4-door, 5-seat, sedan looks and drives like any other Honda Civic. The trunk has less because the natural gas tank is bigger than a gasoline tank. The Civic Natural Gas has an EPA rating of 28 mpg combined and 5.6 tons of CO2e annual emissions.

VW Passat TDIThe Volkswagen Passat TDI is a roomy 4-door, 5-seat, midsized sedan. In city driving a good hybrid will save at the pump compared with this diesel. If you mainly driving on highways, however, you are likely to enjoy well over 40 mpg due to the wonders of the modern turbo diesel engine. The Volkswagen Passat TDI has an EPA rating of 34 mpg combined and 6.2 tons of CO2e annual emissions. Diesel and Hybrid Comparison.

Toyota Prius VMy test drive of the new Toyota Prius v convinced me that you can get 42 MPG with comfort for 5 people and the flexibility to hold the cargo carried in most SUVs. The Prius v will shake-up the crossover SUV and wagon market when it goes on sale in January for only $3,000 more than the Prius Liftback. Toyota now offers four different cars in the Prius Family.  EPA annual emissions are expected to be 4.7 tons CO2e.  Prius v Crossover SUV test drive and review.

ford focus electricFord Focus Electric is a beautiful new pure battery-electric 5-seat hatchback with a 100-mile range. Ford will soon announce prices, start taking reservations and give the Nissan LEAF head-on competition. My test drive of a prototype showed solid handling, smooth acceleration, and a quiet drive. DOE lifecycle emissions would calculate to 3.7 tons of CO2 with the 50% coal U.S. energy mix (DOE GREET 1.8), half that in a state like California and zero source-to-wheels emissions using renewable energy. Ford Focus Electric test drive and review.

Mitsubishi iMitsubishi I is a fun-to-drive electric car that will save some city drivers a fortune by fitting into parking spaces that leave others heading to the parking garage. This 5-door hatchback comfortably seats 4. This pure battery-electric accelerated fine on the freeway. I even took it up a 16 percent grade that would bring some cars to a stand still. Customers are now out taking test drives in a number of cities and placing orders at up to $6,000 less than the Nissan LEAF. Mitsubishi I test drive and review. DOE lifecycle emissions would calculate to 3.7 tons of CO2 with the 50% coal U.S. energy mix (DOE GREET 1.8),half that in a state like California and zero source-to-wheels emissions using renewable energy.

These five candidates for 2012 Green Car of the Year®, ranging from a city car to a sedan to a roomy crossover demonstrate that we have exciting choices in meeting our needs in driving green and saving greenbacks at the pump.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Test Drive and Review

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Test Drive and Review

By John Addison (9/19/11)

This new 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in (PHV) looks just like the classic Prius Liftback except in rear exterior is the cover for the electric charge port; the gasoline cap is on the left.

Sitting behind the wheel of this new Toyota Prius Plug-in (PHV), I wonder how the driving experience will compare with the Chevrolet Volt, my Nissan LEAF, and other members of the Prius family. Next month, Toyota starts the online order process for the Prius PHV with a starting price of $32,000 for dealer deliveries in early 2012.  Online, buyers can configure their Prius PHV, start the order, and then select a Toyota dealer to continue the process.

When I touch Start the useful LED displays light and I’m ready to drive. The car’s default driving mode is ECO for fuel economy. At any time while driving, three buttons on the dash allow convenient driving mode selection – EV, ECO, and Power. I touch EV, step lightly on the accelerator and glide away.

In EV mode, the Prius PHV is only propelled by one of two electric motors. One motor is for propulsion, the other for electricity generation. This Prius PHV is quieter than a Liftback, but unlike the Nissan LEAF, I hear the gasoline engine, which can sometimes idle even in EV mode. I accelerate up to 45 mph before the Prius PHV automatically switches me to ECO mode; 45 is better than I achieved in my previous PHV test drive, thanks to coaching from my test drive partner, Bill Moore, Publisher of EV World. In theory, the Prius PHV has a maximum of 62 mph in EV mode, but reaching that requires adequate lithium battery charge, and a couple of other journalist had already taken this car for a spin.

When not driving in EV mode, the Prius PHV delivers about the same fuel economy as the Prius Liftback. The Prius PHV averages 49 mpg in ECO hybrid mode and is rated at 87 mpg overall.  In ECO mode the hybrid drive system will at times only use the electric motor. The Prius PHV is designed to be in EV mode 15 miles per charge.

I smoothly drive over railroad tracks. This Prius has good shocks. The steering is effortless. Stopping and starting are transparent.

As I accelerate on to the freeway, I could select the Power mode. Instead, I let the Prius PHV do it automatically. I accelerate up the graded onramp and reach 65 mph before merging with traffic.

After five miles of driving, I must sadly return this beautiful car so that the next auto journalist can take it for a spin.  This Prius PHV feels like the two million other Prii (yep, that’s the official plural of Prius) now on the road. The Prius Plug-in is ready for prime time.

Prius Plug-in Drive System and Lithium Battery

The Prius PHV now has an estimated 15-mile electric range, a modest improvement from 13-mile prototype range. The Prius PHV drive system is based on the proven Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive well in its hybrids for over a dozen years. The full series-parallel hybrid drive system uses imbedded computer chips to automatically engage, as needed the 80-horse power (60 kW) electric motor and/or the 1.8L 98-horsepower (73 kW) gasoline engine.

Managing the engagement of electric motors and engine is a Hybrid Transaxle, which combines power split planetary gear set ring with speed reduction planetary gear set ring. The car gets great mileage because energy is captured, whenever possible, from braking and energy resistance. On a long downhill, you can shift into “B” for added regen.

The Prius PHV includes a 4.4 kW lithium-battery pack, a bit smaller than the pack tested in 600 vehicles. A second electric motor (MG1) is used to generate electricity. Both motors are air-cooled permanent magnet.

Prius PHV drivers will most fuel with gasoline. Chevrolet Volt drivers are mostly fueling with electricity. Pure-electric drivers like me only fuel with electricity. For my Nissan LEAF, I had a Level 2 charger installed in the garage so that I charge at the rate of about one hour for each 12 miles of driving. Before the Level 2 charger was installed we use the Level 1 charger and a garage outlet and charged at the rate of about 4 miles per hour.

In some communities, electric utilities and building inspectors are friendly towards the installation of electric vehicle chargers. In other places, and especially for those living in large apartments or co-ops, adding a charger can be difficult, expensive, and/or impossible. Since the Prius PHV only takes 3 hours max to charge Level 1 and only 1.5 Level 2, many Prius PHV buyers will skip the hassle of installing a charger and simply Level 1 charge from any 15 amp dedicated circuit. Toyota is partnering with Leviton to offer a Level 2 charger installed for $995, but be careful to get a quote for any added electrical work. Whether or not a home charger is installed, the Prius PHV can use public Level 2 chargers.

Prius Plug-in Features and Price

The Prius PHV is a 5-door, 5-passenger, liftback with a midsized interior. Inside and out it is as roomy as the best-selling Prius Liftback. The PHV’s 4.4kW lithium battery is well-placed, so that the 60/40 back seats can be lowered to provide plenty of room for trips to big box stores, luggage, work boxes, skis and boards, even a couple of bicycles. The small lithium pack enabled Toyota to make the PHV only 123 pounds heavier than the Liftback. When the backseats are up, a convenient armrest can be lowered.

The Prius PHV is priced starting at $32,000 but you should be eligible for a $2,500 federal tax credit. This plug-in hybrid may be eligible for added incentives from your employer or from your state.

The Prius PHV Advanced starts at  $39,525, with a Premium HDD Navigation with Entune, plug-in hybrid apps, LED headlamps with auto level control, Safety Connect, dynamic radar cruise control, head up display (HUD), and pre-collision system.

There was a time when people would pay up to $3,500 extra in California for a Prius with an HOV sticker, allowing them to save hours of commuting gridlock. As an incentive for early adopters, only so many HOV stickers were issued. In California that old HOV Yellow Sticker is gone, but there is a new HOV White sticker for plug-in cars. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid qualifies, the classic Prius Liftback does not.

Is the Prius PHV the best car for you?

You now have a choice of three different Prius models. This time next year, you will have four choices:

  • Prius Liftback – Midsized interior, 50 mpg, starts at $23,500
  • Prius V – Crossover SUV, 42 mpg, starts at $26,400
  • Prius C – smaller hatchback, best hybrid mpg, priced Summer 2012
  • Prius PHV – Midsized interior, 87 mpg, starts at $32,000

Prius Family – the Prius PHV will be the best if you want a plug-in hybrid. Its starting price is $8,500 more than the best-selling Prius Liftback. The gap narrows to $6,000 after a federal tax credit. Your employer or state may give you added incentives to get the plug-in. The Prius PHV includes a touch-screen navigation system with backup camera and other features, which would be optional extras on the base Prius Liftback. If you get stuck in nasty rush-hour commutes an HOV sticker can have real value. Electric charging is cheap; gasoline fill-ups are expensive. The Prius PHV might pay for itself in a few years compared to the Liftback.

Chevrolet Volt will be tough competition for the Prius PHV.  GM will deliver 16,000 plug-in hybrids in 2011 and 65,000 in 2012. The Prius Plug-in cost about $8,000 less than the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid with a 40-mile electric range in comparison to the Prius PHV’s 15-mile. After federal tax credits, the difference narrows to only $3,000. Prius PHV drivers may neglect to always recharge. Volt drivers that I interview always recharge. The extra $3,000 for the Volt may pay for itself in less than five years of saved gasoline. The Prius PHV seats five, the Volt only four. I have been impressed test-driving both. They are both worth your taking a test drive.

Ford C-MAX Plug-in Hybrid. Later next year, Ford will start selling a five-door, five seat plug-in hybrid hatchback that will compete head-on with the Prius PHV.  The Ford C-MAX Plug-in is expected to have a 40 mile electric range versus the Prius PHV’s 15. Ford has not yet announced pricing. Ford is also selling the Focus Electric with 100-mile pure electric range.

Nissan LEAF is the best selling electric car, delivering 50,000 in 2011. My experience as an owner is that this pure battery electric has an electric range of up to 140 miles on 30 mph streets, but only 60 miles when cruising the freeway while running your air conditioner. My wife and I share the LEAF and also have a hybrid which we use a couple of days weekly and on long-trips. By itself, the LEAF with its limited range would only meet 80 percent of our needs, but with two cars it has never been a problem. It cost us $40 monthly in electricity to run the LEAF, the cost of one fill-up at a gas station. The 2012 LEAF starts at $3,200 more than the Prius V, but after federal tax credits is $1,800 less and can save you about $500 to $1,000 annually in gasoline.

As the world leader in hybrid cars, Toyota is fighting to extend that leadership in both plug-in hybrids and battery electric cars. In plug-in hybrids, GM plans on first mover advantage with the Chevy Volt. In electric cars, the Nissan LEAF has a sizable lead over the Toyota’s 2012 pure-electric offerings, the Toyota RAV4 EV and the Scion IQ EV. But Toyota has more cars on the road with electric motors, advanced batteries, and electric drive systems than all competitors put together. Toyota does not like second place.

In 2012, will have no trouble selling the 15,000 Prius PHV planned for production. The 2012 Prius PHV will be an appealing alternative to many who first consider the less expensive Prius Liftback. With only a 15-mile electric range the PHV will not be for everyone. Toyota Motor Corporation is now offering customers a wide-range of choices including the Toyota RAV4 EV, the Scion IQ EV, a family of four Prii, the Camry hybrid, the Highlander 4WD hybrid, five Lexus hybrids, and a growing range of fuel economy offerings for most drivers.

2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid SPECIFICATIONS

Hybrid Drive System

  • Hybrid Net System 134 horsepower
  • 2ZR-FXE (Atkinson cycle)
  • 4-cylinder aluminum block and head, double overhead cam (DOHC) 16-valve VVT-i
  • 4-valve/cylinder with VVT-i
  • Displacement 1,798 cc
  • Bore x Stroke 3.17 x 3.48 in.
  • Compression Ratio 13.0:1
  • Horsepower (SAE Net) 98 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
  • Torque 105 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
  • Recommended Fuel 87-octane unleaded
  • Emission Certification SULEV (with AT-PZEV) Tier 2 Bin 3
  • Toyota Estimated Fuel Economy*
  • 87+ MPGe
  • Hybrid 49 MPG
  • Electric driving range 15 miles
  • Charging time 1.5 hours (240V) / 3 hours (120V)

Electronically Controlled continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT)


  • Drives front wheels, regeneration during braking
  • Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor
  • Max Voltage DC650V
  • Electric Motor Power Output 80 hp/60 kW
  • Torque 153 lb.-ft.


  • Lithium-ion
  • Weight (lb.) 176
  • Capacity (kWh) 4.4

* 2012 Toyota MPG estimate. Actual mileage will vary.

Suspension – Front Independent MacPherson strut suspension with stabilizer bar
– Rear Torsion beam
Electric Power Steering (EPS); power-assisted rack-and-pinion
– Turning circle diameter, curb to curb (ft.) 34.2 ft.
Brakes –

  • Ventilated front disc (hydraulic with power assist) with standard Anti-Lock Brake (ABS) system and integrated regenerative brake system
  • Front Diameter 10.0 in. rotor
  • Rear Solid disc (hydraulic with power assist) with standard Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
  • – Rear Diameter 10.2 in. rotor
  • Parking Pedal brake
  • Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
  • Standard Wheel Size 6J x 15 in.
  • Wheel Type and Material 10-spoke aluminum alloy
  • Tire Size P195/65 R15
  • Tire Type All-season
  • Spare Tire/Wheel = Tire repair kit


  • Overall Length 176.4 in.
  • Overall Width 68.7 in.
  • Overall Height 58.7 in.
  • Wheelbase 106.3 in.
  • Tread Width (Front/Rear) 60.0/59.8 in.
  • Front Overhang 36.4 in.
  • Rear Overhang 33.7 in
  • Ground Clearance 5.3 in.
  • Coefficient of Drag 0.25


  • Seating Capacity 5
  • Headroom (Front/Rear) 38.6/37.6 in.
  • Legroom (Front/Rear) 42.5/36.0 in.
  • Shoulder Room (Front/Rear) 54.9/53.1 in.
  • Hip Room (Front/Rear) 52.7/51.2 in.
  • Passenger Volume 93.7 cu. ft.
  • Cargo Volume 21.6 cu. ft.


  • Curb Weight 3165 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity 10.6 gal.


  • 15-in. 10-spoke alloy wheels and P195/65R15 tires
  • Color-keyed power outside mirrors with folding feature
  • Projector-beam halogen headlamps with auto-off feature
  • LED tail and stop lamps
  • Rear spoiler with LED center high-mount stop lamp
  • Rear window defogger with timer
  • UV reduction glass windshield
  • Washer-linked variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Intermittent rear window wiper
  • Charge port with illumination and charging indictor light
  • Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced (in addition to or in place of standard grade features)
  • LED headlamps with auto level control, auto-on/off feature and headlamp cleaners
  • Integrated fog lamps


  • Tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Multi-Information Display and Bluetooth® hands-free phone and voice-command controls
  • Multi-Information Display with fuel consumption history, average fuel economy, distance to empty, average speed, trip distance, charger timer, EV Driving Ratio, Hybrid System Indicator, ECO Savings Record and energy monitor
  • Digital instrumentation with speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer, instant fuel consumption, shift-position indicator and EV/ECO/POWER mode indicators
  • Automatic climate control with air filter, dust and pollen filter/filtration mode, electric compressor, humidity sensor and push button controls
  • Remote Air Conditioning System
  • Power windows with auto up/down, jam protection in all positions and retained power features
  • Remote keyless entry system with lock, two-stage unlock and panic functions
  • Smart Key System on three doors with Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry
  • Front door storage pockets with sculpted bottle holders
  • Fabric-trimmed heated front seats with seatback pockets; 6-way adjustable driver’s seat; 4-way adjustable front passenger seat
  • 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with adjustable headrests
  • Fold-forward rear outboard headrests
  • Rear fold-down center armrest with two cup holders
  • Dual sunvisors and illuminated vanity mirrors
  • Power door locks with shift-linked automatic locking feature with anti-lockout feature
  • Two front 12V auxiliary power outlets
  • Cruise control
  • Touch Tracer Display
  • Overhead console with driver and front passenger maplamps and shift illumination
  • Electronic shift lever with Hybrid Synergy Drive® blue accent
  • Center console with armrest, storage compartment, front dual cup holders, removable utility tray, wire-management feature and 12V auxiliary power outlet
  • Passenger-side dual glove compartment
  • Remote hood and fuel-filler releases
  • Charge cable for 120V outlet
  • Rear dome lamp and cargo area lamp
  • Retractable assist grips at all doors
  • Cargo area under-floor storage and side panel storage
  • Cargo area tonneau cover with clasp for under-floor stowage

Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced

(in addition to or in place of standard grade features)

  • Tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Multi-Information Display, Bluetooth® hands-free phone, voice-command and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) controls
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink® universal transceiver
  • SofTex-trimmed heated front seats with seatback pockets; 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support; 4-way adjustable front passenger seat


Display Audio with Navigation and EntuneTM — includes 6.1-in. touch-screen with integrated backup camera display, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio (includes 90-day trial subscription to XM Select Package), HD RadioTM with iTunes® Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information with customizable settings, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, advanced voice recognition, text-to-speech with programmed and customizable text responses, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology

EntuneTM — includes BingTM and Pandora®; real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports and stocks. Apps available spring 2012 at no charge include iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com and OpenTable®. Access to EntuneTM services is complimentary for three years. See toyota.com/entune for details.

Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced (in addition to or in place of standard grade features)

Premium HDD Navigation with EntuneTM, Plug-in Hybrid Applications and JBL® — includes 7-in. touch-screen with split-screen capability and integrated backup camera display, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, eight JBL® GreenEdgeTM speakers with amplifier, SiriusXM™Satellite Radio (includes 90-day trial subscription to XM Select Package), HD RadioTM with iTunes® Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information with customizable settings, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, advanced voice recognition, text-to-speech with programmed and customizable text responses, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology

EntuneTM — includes BingTM, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable® and Pandora®; XM Data Services including NavTrafficTM, NavWeatherTM, Fuel, and Sports & Stocks; EntuneTM Plug-in Hybrid Applications include Charge Management, Remote Air Conditioning System, Charging Station Map, Vehicle Finder and Eco Dashboard. Access to EntuneTM services and Plug-in Hybrid Applications is complimentary for three years. See toyota.com/entune for details.


  • Star Safety System™ – includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).
  • Daytime Running Lights (DRL) with on/off feature
  • Driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System
  • Driver and front passenger front seat-mounted side airbags, driver knee airbag and front and rear side curtain airbags
  • Driver and front passenger active headrests
  • Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS)
  • Front and rear energy-absorbing crumple zones
  • Side-impact door beams
  • 3-point seatbelts for all seating positions; driver-side Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) and Automatic/Emergency Locking Retractor (ALR/ELR) on all passenger seatbelts
  • Adjustable front seat shoulder anchors, driver and front passenger seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) includes lower anchors on outboard rear seats
  • Child protector rear door locks
  • Energy-absorbing collapsible steering column
  • Engine immobilizer
  • Tire Repair System
  • Vehicle Proximity Notification System
  • Additional year of roadside assistance for a total of three years of roadside from date of purchase
  • Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced (in addition to or in place of standard grade features)
  • Safety Connect® — includes Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification. Available by subscription. (Complimentary three-year trial subscription).
  • Pre-Collision System (PCS)
  • Head-Up Display (HUD)

– Blizzard Pearl
– Sea Glass Pearl
– Winter Gray Metallic
– Classic Silver Metallic
– Clearwater Blue Metallic

  • Basic: 36 months/36,000 miles (all components other than normal wear and maintenance items).
  • Lithium Battery and Hybrid-Related Component Coverage: Hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, are covered for 8 years/100,000 miles. The HV battery may have longer coverage under emissions warranty. In states that have adopted the California Emission Control Warranty, coverage is 15 years/150,000 miles for performance and defect, and the hybrid battery is covered for 10 years/150,000 miles. Refer to applicable Warranty and Maintenance Guide for details.
  • Powertrain: 60 months/60,000 miles (engine, transmission/transaxle, drive system, seatbelts and airbags).
  • Rust-Through: 60 months/unlimited miles (corrosion perforation of sheet metal).
  • Emissions: Coverages vary under Federal and California regulations. Refer to applicable Warranty and Maintenance Guide for details.
  • Toyota Care – Complimentary maintenance plan with the purchase or lease of every new Toyota. For 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first, every new Toyota will be covered for all normal factory scheduled service, as well as 24/7 roadside assistance
Race to Make 100,000 Vehicles with Lithium Batteries

Race to Make 100,000 Vehicles with Lithium Batteries

By John Addison (updated 11/22/11)

Lithium batteries are everywhere. They are in your mobile phones, iPads, notebook computers, game players, music players, and a lot more. Soon lithium batteries will be in millions of hybrid and electric cars.

As electric and hybrid car competition intensifies, Nissan, GM, Toyota, and Ford are in a race to sell the most vehicles with lithium batteries. I have driven cars from each of these automakers that use lithium batteries. The cars performed beautifully and delivered great fuel economy.

Nissan will be First with 100,000 Freeway Speed Electric Cars

Nissan LEAF batteryOver 20,000 Nissan LEAFs have been delivered globally, putting Nissan ahead of the competition in the electric car race. My wife and I took delivery of our LEAF in late April and have enjoyed driving it ever since. Nissan backlog grows as it expands sales to more states. Nissan is currently constrained to making 50,000 LEAFs per year to by production from one plant in Japan.

Nissan will deliver 50,000 LEAFs in 2012. They heroically recovered after Japan’s tragic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns. As part of the Renault-Nissan alliance, the lithium battery numbers are much higher. In 2013, a new plant opens in Tennessee with the ultimate capacity of 150,000 LEAFs per year plus 200,000 lithium battery packs per year.

Nissan’s Mark Perry, Director of Product Planning, “Electrification of transportation is no longer an ‘if’ rather a when. Most manufacturers have active programs in HEV, PHEV,EV and FC. New 2025 CAFE regulations will require more advanced technology deployment to achieve 54.5 targets than today. Nissan forecasts 10% market share will be pure EV by 2020.”

The LEAF lithium-nickel-manganese polymer battery packs are produced by AESC, a joint venture of Nissan and NEC. The new Nissan hybrid system uses the same AESC li-ion design as the LEAF with fewer kilowatts being needed. By switching from NiMH batteries to li-ion, weight can be removed from the vehicle. A wider state-of-charge with lithium can also improve mileage. All 2012 Nissan hybrid cars use lithium batteries including the Altima Hybrid and the Infinity M35H.

General Motors Leads with Plug-in Hybrids

Chevy VOLTGeneral Motors and LG Group are jointly designing and engineering future electric vehicles, expanding a relationship built on LG’s work as the battery cell supplier for the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera extended-range EVs. The GM-LG joint development will expand the number and types of electric vehicles that GM makes and sells by using LG’s proven expertise in batteries and other systems. In 2012, GM will deliver at least 60,000 Volts and Amperas with LG Chem advanced lithium battery cells.

“Many solutions for tomorrow’s transportation needs may be available more quickly by building on our partnership strategy,” said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. ”Consumers benefit by getting the latest fuel-saving technology faster if we work with the best suppliers and we save time and money in the development process.”

The success of the extended-range propulsion system in the Volt and Ampera led to exploring other collaborations in the electrification of the automobile. Teams of LG and GM engineers will work on key components, as well as vehicle structures and architectures. Vehicles resulting from the partnership will be sold in many countries.

The GM-LG relationship that began with LG delivering the cells for the battery pack of the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera expanded last year with work on a demonstration fleet of Chevrolet Cruze electric vehicles. These vehicles were used as official vehicles of the G20 summit in Seoul are now in the phase of market-testing to learn more about capabilities and requirements.

GM is not putting all of its eggs in one basket. The new pure-electric 2013 Chevrolet Spark EV will use A123 lithium-ion nanophosphate prismatic cells.

Ford Switching to Lithium Batteries for All Hybrids

FORD C-MAX ENERGIFord will only use lithium batteries in all 2013 model Ford hybrids which start selling in the middle of calendar year 2012. Ford is currently second only to Toyota in global hybrid sales, thanks to vehicles like the Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid.

Although the Renault-Nissan Alliance is most likely to be first with 100,000 lithium-battery cars, Ford may be the first car maker to sell 100,000 cars annually that includes lithium batteries. When I lasted interviewed Nancy Gioia, Director Ford Global Electrification, she said that Ford has a 2020 goal of 10 to 25 percent of its vehicle sales including lithium batteries. Her best guess is that 70% would be hybrids, 20 to 25% plug-in hybrids, and 5 to 10% battery-electric. Everything from technology innovation to oil prices will affect the future mix.

Ford Motor is admired for refusing bailout money and returning to strong profitability. Ford’s electrification plans have the potential for better profit margins as it builds many vehicles for the global market on a common platform. For example, we will see a growing number of hybrid and electric vehicles on the C platform including the Ford Focus Electric, Transit Connect Electric, and new C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi.

With the C-MAX, we will see that Ford powersplit hybrids and blended plug-in hybrids share about 85 percent of the same components including electric traction motor, generator, inverters, DC/DC converters, electric accessories, transmission, and engine. Both the C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid models, with a common chassis, will be built alongside the all-new 2012 Ford Focus and Focus Electric at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich.

Ford, however, will use different pack design and cell chemistry for its hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electric. While some of Ford’s competitors focus on joint ventures with a single battery company, Ford controls pack design and assembly. Different cell manufacturers are considered for different vehicles. Lithium cell providers include LG Chem/Compact Power (CPI) for the Ford Focus Electric and Johnson Control for the Transit Connect Electric.

Toyota’s Incremental Approach to Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Car

Toyota Prius PHVToyota Motor Corp is bringing to market four vehicles with lithium batteries – the Prius PHV, the RAV4 EV, the Scion IQ EV, and rumors of a Camry Plug-in Hybrid. These electric vehicles give Toyota a shot at selling 100,000 vehicles with lithium batteries in 2013, but Toyota is not likely to be first with 100,000. It will be Nissan, GM or Ford.

Toyota has over 3 million hybrids on the road with NiMH batteries. Why fight success? Toyota will be careful in switching to lithium-ion. Economics, reduced vehicle weight, and more interior room will eventually make the switch compelling.

Toyota is not afraid to partner with potential competitors if it accelerates time to market for the right vehicles. Toyota, which owns 2 percent of Tesla, contracted with Tesla for lithium battery packs and drive system integration for the new Toyota RAV4 EV. Toyota has a long history with battery giants Panasonic and Sanyo. Recently, Toyota and Ford announced that they would equally collaborate in the development of advanced hybrid systems for rear-wheel drive trucks and SUVs.

Clean Fleet Report Forecasts One Million Vehicles with Lithium Batteries

Production of electrified vehicles is gearing up all over the world, and automakers are planning to launch an increasing variety of new models over the next few years.  Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) will all share the market stage as electrified vehicles continue to capture a larger portion of the total vehicle market.

Clean Fleet Report forecasts that in 2014 over one million vehicles will be sold with lithium battery packs and electric motors as demand grows for electric cars and hybrids. With manufacturing volume and technology improvements, lithium battery pack costs continue to drop. Three years ago, automaker pack costs were around $1,000/kW. Today, they are around $500. By 2020, they could be at $250/kWh. If oil prices rise, we could see the tipping point in this decade where electric cars are less expensive than gasoline and diesel powered cars.

According to a new report from Pike Research, cumulative sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), the category that includes both PHEVs and BEVs, will reach 5.2 million units by 2017, up from just under 114,000 vehicles in 2011.  By the same year, cumulative sales of HEVs will represent an additional 8.7 million vehicles, for a combined total of 13.9 million units in all electrified vehicle categories.

Energy storage is a $30 billion industry with steady growth. Michigan is now home to 17 advanced battery companies in various stages of construction and production, representing nearly $6 billion in capital investment and expected to create an estimated 20,000 new direct jobs over the next 10 years. The state is expected to make approximately 20 percent of the world’s lithium ion batteries. The Battery Show will be held October 25-27 in Novi, Michigan.

Some automakers want to be first to market with electric cars and advanced batteries; others want to be first to volume. As Nissan, GM, Toyota, Ford, and other automakers compete for hybrid and electric car leadership we will continue to see technological advancements and cost reduction in advanced batteries, electric motors, and electric drive system components. The race is on and the car driver is the sure winner.

Top 10 Electric Car Makers

Ford and SunPower Solar Charging Electric Cars

Ford and SunPower Solar Charging Electric Cars

ford focus electricBy John Addison (8/11/11)

Ford and SunPower offer a rooftop solar system that will allow Focus Electric owners and other electric car drivers to “Drive Green for Life” by providing renewable energy to offset the electricity used to charge the vehicle. The SunPower rooftop solar system also will be compatible with the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid electric vehicle Ford is rolling out in 2012.

This pre-configured solution makes solar charging easy for new customers.  Many of the first 50,000 U.S. buyers of electric cars have been early adopters of solar power and renewable energy. Music legend Jackson Browne lives off-gird and charges his Chevrolet Volt with his own wind and solar power.   Johnson and Johnson installed 1.1MW of SunPower solar covered parking structures that includes 5 Coulomb electric car chargers. The U.S. Marine Corp at Camp Pendleton showed me their solar powered parking structure that charges their 291 electric vehicles. Solar Parking Structures

The 2.5 kilowatt rooftop solar system is comprised of the SunPower® E18 Series solar panels that produce an average of 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. These high-efficiency solar panels generate approximately 50 percent more electricity than conventional panels and utilize a smaller footprint on the roof. The system was sized to accommodate an electric car owner who drives about 1,000 miles per month.

The complete SunPower solar system is offered at a base price of less than $10,000 after federal tax credits. Local and state rebates, along with other incentives, may drive the system cost down even more, depending on a customer’s location. Included in the purchase is a residential monitoring system, which includes the ability to track the performance of their solar system on the web or through an iPhone application. Affordable financing options for the solar system are available through SunPower.

When Ford customers order their Focus Electric or C-MAX Energi they will have the option of indicating an interest in the SunPower system. SunPower leads the industry with more than 400 dealers in the U.S., and can support the initial Focus Electric roll out in all 19 markets. A participating SunPower dealer who will visit their home to begin the installation process will contact interested Focus Electric customers. Ford also has an agreement with consumer electronics leader Best Buy to offer a 240-volt home charging station for the Focus Electric and future electric vehicle owners.

I was impressed with my test drives of early versions of the Ford Focus Electric, which will challenge the Nissan LEAF. In 2013, NISSAN opens its new Tennessee plant with the ultimate capacity of making 150,000 LEAFs each year. The Ford C-MAX Energi will challenge the Chevrolet Volt’s leadership of plug-in hybrids. Chevrolet will make 65,000 Volts and Opel Amperas next year.

Electrification is an important piece of Ford’s overall product sustainability strategy, which includes the launch of five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and in Europe by 2013. Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010 and will launch the all-new Focus Electric later this year. In 2012, these models will be joined in North America by the new C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. This diverse range of electrified vehicles allows Ford to meet a variety of consumer driving needs.

Electric car critics and many oil industry executives claim that there will only be coal power charging electric vehicles. In my two years of interviewing electric car owners and fleet managers, I have yet to met someone who only uses coal to power their electric vehicles. Most use zero coal power. Many use 100 percent renewables. One oil giant who does not make the false coal claim is Total, which is buying the majority of SunPower stock. Total sees a billion dollar opportunity to charge cars with renewable energy.