Amid the hoopla over the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 a new plug-in sales leader from Toyota emerges.
The Chevy Bolt is the North American Car of the Year as well as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year (do we really need both?). It is also one of Popular Mechanics’ top picks for 2017. The only trouble is that it isn’t selling well. Dealers have already starting discounting the Bolt and it is less than six months into its launch.
The Tesla Model 3 is the hottest new car in America according to many electric vehicle advocacy publications. News reports on how the Model 3 undercuts Chevy’s price and has better performance are easy to find.
The trouble is, there is no Tesla Model 3. It is not for sale, and it has never been tested. By anyone. It is not yet a production car.
Meanwhile, over at Toyota, the newly updated 2017 Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) has quietly risen to be the number one selling electric vehicle in America in April. Don’t take our word for it. Check our Inside EVs’ monthly sales chart. The writing on the wall has been apparent all year. Like pretty much every Toyota product launch, the Prius Prime was delivered on time, is what was expected, is able to be produced in reasonable numbers, and it aced all its crash tests recently over at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Something no Tesla has ever done. And perhaps most important of all, it is actually for sale.
How could a car that hardly anyone outside of the green car media even knows about be the top selling car in the EV segment? Simple. It does all the things green car owners want it to do. It can operate in most states’ HOV lanes including California’s. It comes with a federal tax deduction and state incentives just like the Bolt and Tesla models do and will. And it has an extremely low cost of operation per mile. Importantly, unlike the Bolt and future Model 3, the Prime can be refueled anywhere in under five minutes. The folks at Toyota also cheat a bit. They offer no-cost maintenance for two years. Tesla Model S owners are paying $1,150 for that right now.
If you looked at the sales chart link we referred to earlier, you may note that the number two EV in America for April was the Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle (EREV). The Volt has been a contender all year long for the top selling EV in America. The reasons are just like the Prius Prime’s. Perfect crash test scores, very low cost per mile, no range hassles, federal and state incentives, and it is a real car you can buy at any Chevy dealership near you.
Maybe the formula for a successful electric car isn’t that complicated?