First Plug-In Prius Shipments Arrive in United States

By · February 27, 2012

Eminent Ace

The ship carrying the first Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid production units made a delivery at the port of Benicia, Calif., near San Francisco, over the weekend. The Eminent Ace cargo ship is now headed to the port in Long Beach to deliver more of the first Priuses equipped with a plug to thereby push its efficiency close to 100 miles per gallon.

The Eminent Ace is expected to arrive in Long Beach around 9 pm tonight. A separate shipment, on the Pyxis Leader cargo ship, recently arrived on its 20-day journey from Japan to the Panama Canal, before it makes its way to Jacksonville, Fla., and then Newark, NJ.

Customers eager to become the first Plug-in Prius drivers in the United States are closely monitoring the progress of these boats via reports on by Dianne Whitmire, the fleet sales director at Carson Toyota in Carson, Calif. Customers in the Bay Area are expecting to take deliver of their Plug-in Priuses in the next week or two.

Other plug-in cars—such as the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S—get more share of the electric car buzz. But Toyota's move to add a plug to the iconic Prius, by far the most recognized green car on the road, could shake up the consumer market for cars that use grid-supplied electricity as automotive fuel.

Toyota expects to sell 15,000 units in the first year. In 2012, sales will occur in the 14 states that follow California’s stricter emissions standards: Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and of course California. A national rollout is planned for 2013.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Texas is not on the list for 2012, but that’s not stopping Jim Bradbury of Rowlett, Tex. He’s buying one of the first Plug-in Priuses in Tucson, and driving it about 1,000 miles home. “On the drive home from Tucson, I will learn first hand how the fuel economy will work out on a trip where I won't be able to charge along the way,” he told me.

Bradbury’s order number is 1033. He said his car has not yet been built.

Bradbury, who currently drives a 2005 Toyota Sienna, has never owned a Prius. Despite his best efforts at measured driving, he’s not able to get his minivan’s efficiency beyond 21 MPG. “It will be great to possibly triple, or maybe quadruple that figure with my Prius,” said Bradbury. The Toyota Plug-In Prius is officially rated at 95 MPGe.

Bradbury teaches college 11 miles from his home—a round-trip distance that is beyond the 15 or so miles of all-electric range available from the Plug-in Prius. “But, there are now eight Level 2 charging stations between home and the school, most of which are free to charge,” said Bradbury. He plans to charge his car during the day at the local recreation center while he exercises. That will add enough energy so he can drive the eight miles home all in EV mode—without using a drop of gas.

This routine will minimize the use of gas during his usual daily driving, but then, “if I want to drive across country, I can with no worries of range anxiety in a car that is rated at 49 MPG highway,” said Bradbury. “As I see gas rolling over $4 a gallon again in California, it's nice to know that increasing gas prices won't affect me all that much with my Plug-In Prius.”

New to EVs? Start here

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