Prius Plug-In price announced at $32,000 before rebate

Toyota announced today that the Prius Plug-in, set to debut in March 2012, will be priced at $32,000 before an approximate $2,500 tax rebate. An upmarket version is available $39,500.

The total difference in price between the baseline Prius Plug-in and a Chevy Volt is about $2,100 after the full tax credits…

Chevy Volt 2012 – MSRP: $39,145 – 7500 = $31,645
Toyota Prius Plug-in 2012 – MSRP: $32,000 – 2500 = $29,500
Difference:  $2,145 (does not include any destination charges or other dealer add-on fees)

After realizing this, my initial position of leaning towards the Prius is starting to change back to the Volt because there is only a $2,100 difference in price. The difference goes up to $3,100 if you count the difference in cost between the $1000 base 240V 3.3kW charger for the Prius and the $2000 240V 3.3kW Volt charger. This choice is determined by several factors.

  1. Prius top electric speed The Prius plug-in has a top full electric speed of 62MPH, while the Volt is always electric when there is capacity in the battery. For me, this means that my 70MPH commute on the highway to and from work and to and from most of my friends’ houses means I’m using gas in the Prius because of my top speed. In the Volt’s case I’ll always be on electricity if I have the charge? Because of my large amount of highway driving the Volt holds some advantage here.
  2. Electric range is 15 miles With the Prius, the electric range is 15 miles and probably lower in cold and hot weather (e.g. most of Vegas weather). My commute is 15-16 miles, most of which is on the highway. So I’m inclined to think I’d have to charge at work in addition to home, so I’d have to work with the building manager to get a charging station.
  3. Weird charging port location This isn’t a deal breaker, but it does get under my skin a little – everyone else is putting their charging port up front near the drivers door.  The Prius puts its in the back right. So I’d have to walk around to the back of my car to plug it in twice a day. Plus in commercial shopping centers the charging stations are usually at the front of the car. Do cars always get backed into parking spaces in Japan?
When it comes to purchase or lease, again I’m leaning towards lease, however it really depends on the details of the lease. Some individuals are reporting lease rates of $500 or more, which isn’t such a great deal, while GM’s stated lease rate is $399/mo for 12,000 mi/yr.

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