Cars Toyota prius

Published on July 16th, 2013 | by Tim Tyler


Toyota Prius Plug-In MPG Challenge’s First Winner Averages 356 MPGe

July 16th, 2013 by  

The first wave of the Prius Plug-In MPG Challenge has been completed, and the winner is The Helping Hands Food Pantry. While competing against some stiff competition from other non-profits, the Helping Hands group managed to achieve the highest overall MPG with an astounding 356 MPGe over the 30-day period.

Toyota prius

Image: Prius Plug-in via Toyota

If you’re not familiar with the Prius Plug-In MPG Challenge, it is a new annual contest created by Toyota to raise environmental awareness and to help promote maximizing fuel efficiency of the Prius Plug-in. Toyota, which has just seen sales of its Toyota Prius line surpass 3 million, has committed to $20,000 in prizes to organizations that end a 30-day driving period with the highest MPG while driving a borrowed Prius Plug-in from Toyota.

The Helping Hands Food Pantry is a “donation-run group established by a local councilman and minister in Teaneck, N.J., that provides free, supplemental groceries to needy residents.” In order to qualify, contestants had to drive at least 500 miles in the 30-day period.

Helping Hands came in with 506 total miles driven and averaged 356 MPGe. That is 261 MPGe more than the vehicle’s official estimated average in EV Mode. To celebrate their accomplishment, Toyota is awarding The Helping Hand Food Pantry with a much-needed $2,500 contribution, which I’m sure they will put to good use.

The second wave of competitors has officially begun. This wave will consist of seven prolific environmental influencers from NY, NJ, and Connecticut. Just like the seven participants from the last round, the second wave of eco-conscious competitors will borrow a Prius Plug-In and see if they can achieve the greatest overall MPGe in the next 30 days.

The second wave of ecologically conscious competitors participating as MPG  Challengers includes:

  • Earth Day New York, a nonprofit organization promoting environmental awareness and solutions through partnerships with schools, community organizations, businesses and government
  • EcoKaren, a chiropractor-turned-green-living-consultant and blogger focused on the connection between the environment and health
  • Green-4-U, a resource for people who want to know more about green living but do not know where to start
  • Green Divas, a radio show and blog offering listeners information on green and sustainable living
  • Green Living Guy, author and editor of the “Green Guru” series
  • Inhabitat, a blog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future
  • New York Green Advocate, a blog authored by environmental activist Paul McGinniss focused around the latest news about the world environment, sustainable living, renewable energy and green building

Notably, Eco Karen and the Green Divas have run sites in the Important Media network, while Green Living Guy is a friend and wonderful fan and supporter of CleanTechnica.

To bring some real-time information to the event, participants will be able to log activity via several social channels.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

Holds an electronic's engineering degree and is working toward a second degree in IT/web development. Enjoy's renewable energy topic's and has a passion for the environment. Part time writer and web developer, full time husband and father.

  • Jon

    You need to look up the definition of MPGe

    • VoltOwner


      Also agree that it would be great to see the data from all the cars on the road.

      It would be nice to see if this mileage number is near the maximum, or if it’s just average.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    It would be more interesting to know the boundary conditions. That is:
    1) Actual energy needed to overcome wind and rolling resistance at 90mph and at 5mph.
    2) The energy needed in the best, worst, and normal case scenarios to power the mechanisms like battery heaters and creature comforts built into the car.
    With the above numbers as honesty guidelines PR campaigns could get much better mileage out of their stunts.

  • Got this from a representative of the campaign: “Each one is being evaluated by a combination of EV and gas electric driving. The vehicle computer measures the combined fuel consumption of both EV and gas electric hybrid driving modes and expresses it as an average MPG. The winners of the Challenge will be selected based on the highest overall MPG over the course of the 30-day period.”

  • Omega Centauri

    As a plugin owner, I find this more than a little irritating. First I assume this is mielage per gallon of gasoline consumed, the electricty is considered free. So basically if your ONLY use for the vehicle is short trips -they can often be totally electric, you are in the running. If you got to drive beyond the EV range, you don’t have a snowballs chance in the afterworld…

    During warmish weather, with a careful driver (no jackrabbit accellerations), its not hard to be 100% electric. If you need to use the defroster even a little bit, sorry Charlie the ICE comes on (you can still do >100 mpg). But if you have to go more than 12-15miles between charges, you will use gasoline.

    I have done 60mpg, even without a charged battery, so I think this car seriously beats the Volt.

    • What do you mean, you “find this more than a little irritating?” Do you mean the challenge or the plug In?

      • Omega Centauri

        The challenge. Its pretty arbitrary. If you have a usage pattern that consists of a lot of ten mile drives, with charging opportunities of a couple of hours to wait, in between, you are in the running -otherwise you need not apply.
        I know Toyota is just looking for an anecdotal testimonial for PR purposes “Joe Green gets 999mpg” [If you didn’t use any gas, the car reads 999mpg for the trip].

        Love the vehicle. Just not the gee whiz marketing. Hope they are able to increase the battery capacity.

        • Of course, the challenge is not realistic! It’s not how an average person would drive, especially since the only charging station is at my house and I can only go about 5 mile radius if I want to use only #EV mode! But I can tell you from driving the #EV for last five days, I’ve learned a ton about my normal driving habits on my own car….accelerating, stopping, going under the speed limit, braking, etc…So while it is a marketing/PR campaign, I’ll be talking about the educational aspect of how you should drive no matter what kind of car you have. #EV’s have a long way to go. The technology, affordability, infrastructure and education are all necessary components before people can embrace it completely. But I’m glad I’m getting the experience in the challenge, no matter how unrealistic it might be. The winner of the last wave clearly had an agenda. The others just drove normally, getting the ‘normal’ MPG. I’m already getting the benefit, even if I’m not getting 999MPG….education about what #EV truly is.

          • Excellent. That’s great to hear! Hope you are able to spread that message to a lot of non-techies. 😀

          • Yup! That’s my goal! 😉

          • You rock! 😀

          • Omega Centauri

            The vehicle is clearly set up to encourage efficient smooth driving technique (at least if the driver values that). With that power meter, you learn precise measured use of the accelerator. This is quite the opposite of some overpowered ICE vehicles, like the Toyota Tundra, which seems to encourage pulsed acceleration. I think it provides for a smooth ride -others probably think its wimpy. It does have oumph when you need it, you just have to really push on the peddle to get it.

            I try to have long even braking, which limits the recharge rate to the battery. This requires careful reading of the traffic conditions and a steady foot.

    • I had some of the same initial reactions. But the challenge has to be fairly simple to serve its purpose — reaching the common citizen. Any thoughts on a better challenge like this?

    • “Each one is being evaluated by a combination of EV and gas electric driving. The vehicle computer measures the combined fuel consumption of both EV and gas electric hybrid driving modes and expresses it as an average MPG. The winners of the Challenge will be selected based on the highest overall MPG over the course of the 30-day period.”

    • Jon

      Prius Seriously beats the Volt? Hundreds of Volt drivers average well over 350 mpg. A 60 mpg day is a bad day as far as my Volts MPG goes. I would have to drive well over 100 miles to get down near 60MPG. A 100 mile trip yields 66MPG in a Volt. Most people drive less than 50 miles a day so that would put most Volt drivers in the multi-hundreds of MPG. Someone above complained about not counting electricity, go ahead and add it i, for me its 2 pennies/mile. My 36 mile commute is about 70 cents in electricity. My coffee costs more than my commute does. The Volt is the most misunderstood car ever. Only a traveling salesman would do better in a Prius. You would have to drive more than 100 miles in a day. If you can charge at work then you would have to drive more than 200 miles per day to make the Prius better than the Volt. These are just the facts and simple math

      • tmac1


        Volt actually show over 1000 volt drivers whose mpg is well over 100 mpg
        I challenge Toyota to show real time data on real life commuters who routinely break 100 mpg.
        Don’t get me wrong I have 2005 Prius and a volt and I am all for mor plug in vehicles.
        I agree the volt crushes the pip for most drivers, for some PIP would be better but suspect small minority.

  • jburt56

    1 gallon = 121.32 MJ so they are getting 2.93 miles per MJ.

  • Marion Meads

    I was wondering as to the method of measuring MPGe in the contest. Does it log all kWH charges including the regenerative braking and total miles driven in EV mode? Is the energy captured from regenerative braking counted as charging the battery, or is it a bonus and not counted, thus boosting the MPGe very high? It explains that the high scorers have frequent stops and go in delivery services, the more you accelerate faster in city traffic, and then coast for regenerative braking, the higher will your accumulated EV miles should be, even if your gas consumption is the worst.

    If you accelerate quickly to high speed, then coast for regenerative braking, and drive in EV mode at optimal speed, you’ll boost your EV miles without wall charging. The MPGe should be calculated alongside the gasoline use, they are usually inversely proportional.

    • Yes, regenerative charge gets added to the total charge so let’s say, you have 10.5 miles left, after your braking, it may go up to 10.7 due to regen charge. I haven’t seen a huge regen charge, enough NOT to charge on the wall. And the car calculates MPGe as well as MPG so you can see both.

    • Got this from a campaign rep: “Each one is being evaluated by a combination of EV and gas electric driving. The vehicle computer measures the combined fuel consumption of both EV and gas electric hybrid driving modes and expresses it as an average MPG. The winners of the Challenge will be selected based on the highest overall MPG over the course of the 30-day period.”

  • I am so thrilled to participate in this challenge as I always wanted to drive a plug in but never could decide which model. After attending the International Auto Show in Detroit in Jan, I was even more confused – that there are so many options now!! So I am thrilled to have been picked to participate in this #Pluginforcharity Prius Plug In MPG Challenge to try out Toyota’s Prius Plug In. And with the recent Harvard Univ. study that linked Autism to air pollution, I felt it was appropriate to support Autism Speaks with my winnings, if I win. It just makes sense to reduce emission even more now.

    Thanks for the shout out Tim!

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