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The short-lived Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid was never a popular vehicle, and the subject of one man’s lawsuit could answer why.
In its advertising, Toyota claimed the model (built from 2012 to 2015) was good for 13 miles of all-electric driving, after which the vehicle switched to normal hybrid operation. Richard Rosenbaum claims his Prius Plug-in only achieved eight miles of range, and that number sometimes fell to three miles, even with an all-night charge.
Rosenbaum said bought the car to commute 12 miles, and hadn’t expected to use gasoline during the trip. In May of 2015, he took his vehicle to the dealer to address the low range.
According to CarComplaints, “Rosenbaum says a test was conducted and after the test the Prius started getting 10 miles on a single charge, causing the plaintiff to believe Toyota did something to alter the car.”
The automaker denies it did anything to alter the vehicle. However, Rosenbaum’s beef with Toyota goes deeper than just warm-weather range. He claims the automaker never told him the vehicle would burn gas continuously during the winter. Below 55 degrees, the Prius Plug-in operates solely as a hybrid, using the gasoline engine to provide warm coolant for the heater.
Rosenbaum never saw the gasoline savings he had hoped for. His suit alleges the automaker violated Michigan consumer protection and breach of warranty laws, as well as breach of contract violations.
In 2014, the plug-in model’s best sales year, Toyota sold 13,263 Prius Plug-ins to the regular Prius’ 122,776. The model is set to return as the 2017 Prius Prime, offering 22 miles of all-electric range, though the automaker recently pushed back the launch date.