Prius Plug-in the First Week



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Sunday August 11, 2012 - Prius Plug-in the First Week - On Saturday, August 4 I finally got my Prius Plug-in.  I figured I if consumer reports could do a long term evaluation then why not  The evaluation is to see how a plug-in hybrid would fit into an apartment dweller's lifestyle.


I placed my order for a white base model with Dianne Whitmire from Carson Toyota.  Dianne was the person who sold me my 2005 Prius so I knew the transaction would be handled with no surprises.  My first challenge was getting to Carson to pick up the car.


Since my wife had her back surgery she hasnít been able to drive and I had no other person available to give me a ride.  Dianne graciously offered to drive up to LA and pick me up.  Talk about going above and beyond.


Dianne walked me through everything including getting the application set up for the California rebate.  After a long wait for the finance guy I was ready to take the car home.  The car came with both a full tank of gas and a full charge so when I headed for the freeway I was in EV mode.


I quickly found the first thing I didn't like.  The NAV the system does not mute the radio when it issues directions.  This makes the NAV instructions very difficult to hear if you are playing the radio.


Once on the freeway I accelerated up to 65mph and the Prius automatically shifted into hybrid mode.  Still, with an almost full battery the car favors battery power and the car turned in an impressive 60mpg for the trip.  The 405 came to a stop just after LAX so I took La Cienega instead.  This put me back in EV mode but I found that the ICE would still come on if I pushed the accelerator hard.


The battery finally gave out as I approached the 10 freeway overpass.  This causes another thing that looked odd to me.  The batter charge indicator went from showing no charge to showing a fully charged battery.  What happened was that the switch from EV mode to HEV mode also switched the battery indicator so the indicator showed state of charge as it would for the regular Prius.


On Sunday morning I decided to go check the supplied 110V charger.  It really isn't a charger, it is a power management device that supplies the correct protocol to the onboard charger so that it knows it is receiving 110V not 220V.  Everyone calls it a charger though so I will continue to use this term for it.  I plugged the charger into the 110V outlet in the parking garage to see if it was working but the outlet appeared to be totally dead.


In the afternoon I went to Century City Shopping Center to try the public chargers there.  These chargers are $1 per hour which is a little expensive but not too bad.  When I got to the chargers I found they were locked so I went to find another parking space. 


After lunch I dropped by the Coda store - the chargers actually belong to Coda.  Apparently the procedure is to park in front of the charger then go up to the Coda store and pay then the money for the number of hours you wish to charge.  Then someone will go down to the charger with you, unlock the charger and lock it again after you have plugged in.  When it's time to leave you go back to the coda store and someone goes down with you again to unlock the charger so you disconnect.  Sounds like a huge PIA to me.


Monday was my first time driving the PIP to Work.  With no charge in the batteries I was running in HEV mode so that would give me an idea how this compared to the old Prius which averaged 46mpg over the round trip.  When I got to work on Monday morning I found something I really like, when you power down the car gives you trip information for how long the trip was, how long it took, and what the mpge was.  For this trip I got 8.4 miles and 38mpg - not very impressive but this leg is mostly uphill so not too surprising.


The trip home on Monday was mostly downhill and as I came down from the top of the Hollywood Hills I was surprised to see that I had EV range again, 1.2 miles by the time I hit level ground.  The car stayed in HEV mode though but still drove battery only most of the time.  When I got home I found that I had managed 62mpge for a trip average of 50 mpg; 4 mpg better than I would expect for the 2005.


On Tuesday I searched around the parking garage at work and found an outlet that was conveniently located near a parking space.  On Wednesday I was able to grab that space so during lunch I had a chance to test the 110V charger.  It worked great and a 15 minute charge gave me 1.3 miles of EV range.  On the drive home I again left the car in HEV mode but the charge was still gone by the time I got to the freeway. 


Then a funny thing happened, on the trip down from the top of the hill I didn't get any EV range.  That was the only day of the week I didn't get EV range.  Still, the trip home logged 68mpge so I did see some benefit from the brief charge.


On Wednesday night I went to the Beverly Hills Public Library to try out the public chargers.  These are Chargepoint chargers and I didn't have an account so I tried to call the toll free number on the charger.  My phone seemed to be having problems getting a signal and when I finally did get through I got an ad for some sort of diet system followed by the call disconnecting.


I have a blink charger card but the closest Blink Charger is in Santa Monica. I am still awaiting the arrival of my Chargepoint card and once I get that I should be able to try out some of the chargers in this area.


Yesterday I was doing some running around; mostly very short trips.  During these trips my average fuel consumption was down to 39mpg.  For the first week of ownership I have driven 147 miles at an average fuel consumption of 51mpg.  My range to empty is still reading above 300 miles so I guess it will be a while before I need to add gas.