Electric car, our first experience with a PHEV

Authors experiences Special Interests

We made the decision to switch to an electric car after our reliable 14-year-old Suzuki SUV stopped working. Although I had my heart set on a pure electric vehicle like a Tesla, the charging infrastructure in our area doesn’t work well with the 400 km electric range they offer. While it would be suitable for city driving, our rural cottage frequently takes us beyond that range. 🚗⚡

Plug in Hybrid

The newer PLUG-IN hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), with both Electric and conventional gas (ICE) engine, are starting to offer longer range in the batter only range. In the end we settled on the Toyota Prius Prime, which has a 72 Kilometer (45 mile) electric only range, plus very good combined gas mileage 52 mpg (4.5 L/100). Some owners I spoke with have gone for months on one tank of gas, because they drive mostly in the city, and charge at home. Sadly, their popularity has created a 18 month order timeframe, so I decided to start with a used 2022 version for now.

Since the building we live in does not have EV charging, we use neighborhood chargers for our Prius. Charging at home would be the cheapest electric option, but even the neighborhood chargers are reasonable, coming in at an average of $1 per charge.

Electric VS Gas cost

Comparing our Prius with my previous Suzuki SUV the electric only cost is 80% less. (e.g. 100km trip would have been $21, but now is $4 for electric only, or free). With the gas mode of our new Prius, electric only savings are about 50%. The hidden bonus, is that some places actually offer FREE EV charging, but they are harder to find.

Charging Time considerations

On the road charging time is typically about an hour for our Prius. Tesla’s use a faster charging technology and would take maybe 15 minutes to stop at a charging station. So, yesterday we stopped for lunch and plugged in for an hour and saved money. Sometimes I just sit and read in the car. Unfortunately many of the charge stations are NOT conveniently located near a coffee shop or restaurant. Hopefully future charging stations adapt to this need. Obviously charging at your home is the best overall option, since you can leave it overnight at the lowest electric rates.

The dashboard has a bunch of new information that helps you understand the battery level and also the hybrid driving conservation features. Battery shown at 35% full, charging while driving.

Battery Life Considerations

The big fear is replacing the expensive battery when it gets over 10 years old. Toyota provides a 10 year warranty on the battery, but seems to have a very good track record claiming 96% of their electric customers over the past 20 years have not had to replace their battery! A new battery is in the $10K range from the dealer, but there are 3rd parties providing alternatives for about half that. We will cross that bridge when the time comes.

Government Grants

There are government grants for “green” initiatives in Canada, both Federal and provincial in the $8000 range. Even though we bought used, some of them we applicable. We received $1000 rebate from the province, and even the banks are offering 2% lower interest rates for many green vehicles.


Electric cars are not for everyone, but as a retired person, it is actually a little easier to deal with the “waiting for it to charge” issue, when on the road.


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