Toyota Motor Corp. launched the second phase of the Prius Plug-In MPG Challenge as part of its bid to increase awareness of the Prius Plug-in hybrid's fuel economy. A Toyota spokeswoman told Automotive News in an e-mail that they have discovered a general lack of understanding about electric and hybrid technologies in the general marketplace as well as anxiety about range.
The 30-day contest will see seven eco-friendly groups and individuals targeting to achieve the highest overall fuel economy. Competitors have to travel at least 300 miles total and 75 miles each week. The winning participant is the one that could log the highest fuel economy after 30 days, based on the vehicle's trip computer.
Each winner of the phase gets a $2,500 donation to the charity of choice. Second- and third-placers get charitable donations of $1,000 and $500. Each participant also gets a $200 gasoline card. The Prius Plug-in hybrid is EPA rated at 95 MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent and competes in the small but growing alternative power segment.
According to the Automotive News Data Center, the alternative power segment posted a 12-percent gain in sales in the United States in the first half of 2013 to 173,464 units. Toyota, however, logged a 5-percent decline in sales of all of its Prius units in the first half of 2013 to 120,214 units.
On the hand, Prius’ main rival, the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid saw its U.S. sales surge 12 percent in the first six months of 2013 to 9,855 units.
Other main rival, the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle saw its sales in the US more than tripled in the first half of 2013 to 9,839 units. Sales for the Volt soared after Chevrolet offered cash rebates of $4,000 on the 2013 Volt and $5,000 on the 2012 model, and while sales for the Leaf surged after Nissan trimmed its price.