Those concerned about being on the bleeding edge of the EV technology curve, with a BEV or PHEV might be considering going with the Plug-In Prius . After all, the Prius is going on its 12th year of production, and has established a solid reputation for itself, and essentially the plug-in is bringing existing tech to the table, with only a slightly larger battery and the ability for the first time to charge said battery from the wall instead of the engine itself.
Those considering the PIP option, should be aware however, that the PIP operates in a way that is significantly different than the Volt. Essentially, the Volt operates as an EV for the first 25-50 miles, after which an engine/generator kicks in and extends the range another 360 miles. For the PIP there are a whole host of scenarios that can cause the gas engine to kick in, even before the battery is exhausted.
Scott Fauque over at http://www.gm-volt.com
has a great thread on those scenarios.
1)Heater in Use
2)Hybrid system too hot (left in sun)
3)Hybrid system too cold (left out below 32F for prolonged time), or if outside temp is below 14F!
4)Other expected conditions -- threashold for acceleration, speed over 62mph, etc.
Ultimately if you are the kind of driver who can get 50 mpg out of Prius than you are probably the kind of driver who can get 45 mpg out of the Volt, when in the extended range mode. In the Prius you are looking at an electric range in the 6-15 miles IF (note that is a big if) you dont trigger the gas engine, versus the 25-50 miles of the Volt.
One of the first people to review the PIP really likes the vehicle but already he laments the small electric range and the fact that the gas engine is easily triggered. This is a common feeling for most who slide behind the wheel of an EREV or PHEV, there is a sudden and strong preference for not burning gas.
Many will say to themselves at this point, I don't care about burning gas, but you will. Whether it is the notion of saving money, the environment, reducing dependence on foreign, or that certain je ne sais quoi, most find that despite a lifetime of having burned gas all their life without a second thought, slip behind the wheel of an EV of any make and suddenly there is strong to desire to avoid burning gas.
Because of the substantially reduced range and lower threshold for triggering the gas engine on the PIP many will find it disappointing compared to the Volt in that regard. Of course in a BEV like the Focus Electric burning gas is not a concern.
Based on the smaller range of the PIP and how easily the engine is triggered to come on, the conclusion over at ww.gm-volt.com was that the PIP would have to sell at discount to the Volt in order for it to make financial sense, and that is the case.
http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/prius-plu ... &trim=base
It then becomes a question of running the total cost of ownership calculators to see how those differences would effect your ownership costs over the life of the vehicle.