Frequently Asked Questions

This page is intended to answer questions commonly asked by those who are not familiar with the Prius. We welcome any additional questions.

What distance can the Prius drive on a charge?

The Prius battery is charged continuously from the petrol engine or from recovered energy when the car is braking or not under power. Charging is controlled by the internal computer. There is no provision, or need, to charge the vehicle from mains power.

Toyota does have plug-in Prii in real-world prototype testing in Japan at present. There is an expectation that a plug-in Prius will be marketed in the foreseeable future, as soon as the battery technology for reasonable storage capacity is proven.

Can the car be driven purely on the battery?

The Prius is designed to use solely battery power at low-speed when there is not excessive power demand. At about 30km/hr the petrol engine will (silently) start. In normal cruise, both engines will combine to deliver power to the wheels. If the foot is taken off the accelerator, or if the vehicle is at a standstill, the petrol engine will stop, and restart unobtrusively when needed. The Prius does have a “pure EV” mode whereby the car can be driven a short distance at low speed purely on battery power.

What is “stealth mode”?

This is the term given to the situation when the Prius is moving silently under battery power, e.g. in car-parks or at low speeds.

Does the Prius lack power compared with conventional vehicles?

No, the Prius has similar power and torque to any mid-sized vehicle. The Atkinson-cycle petrol engine delivers 57 kW at 5000 rpm while the electric motors deliver 50 kW. The Hybrid Synergy Drive optimises the power and torque available from each engine to meet current energy demand. Prius develops torque (twisting power) of 400 nm…..more than many V8s. Acceleration and overtaking power is quite pleasantly surprising to those driving a Prius for the first time.

Is manual transmission available?

No. The Prius uses Continuously Variable Transmission, which means there are no gear shifts as with a conventional vehicle.

What fuel consumption can I really expect?

Prius owners in our Club report fuel consumption between 4.5 and 5.0 L/100km (as measured by the in-car computer), while the new ZVW30 models are rated at 3.9 l/100 km. This translates into about 950-1000 km from a full tank (45 litres). Fuel consumption will vary with traffic conditions, average speed and driving technique. The in-built computer encourages energy-efficient driving by providing a real-time display of current fuel consumption and energy recovery.

There is a lot of comparison with a diesel car’s fuel consumption. In truth, a modern small diesel car can achieve close to a Prius’ fuel consumption. However, an equivalent size (and carrying capacity to Prius) diesel car can not achieve those figures, nor can they match Prius’ environmentally low emission figures. However, when overall running costs are fairly compared, the figures become clearer. While Prius owners can buy petrol cheaply at the lowest points of the Petrol Companies’ weekly pricing cycles and then have nearly 1000 km of running in the tank, diesel is never discounted. It is not uncommon for diesel to be 25-30 cents/litre dearer than petrol. That equates to anything up to $13 per 45 litre tankful saving.

Servicing a Prius is similar in cost to servicing a Corolla, and Toyota dealers display the costs of each service at their Service Reception areas. Diesel servicing can, however, be expensive. Toyota in recent times is offering fixed price servicing on all its range of new cars, including Prius.

Prius can run efficiently on E10; 92 Octane Unleaded; and Premium Unleaded petrols.

On a running cost per km basis, the Prius has a clear advantage.

How long does the battery last?

The standard warranty for the NiMh traction battery in Australia is 8 years or 160,00 km, but Toyota expects a much longer life. In some countries the warranty is up to 10 years for exactly the same component. The Prius’ management system maintains the batteries’ charge at between 45% and 85%, so it is not unduly stressed in the interest of long life.

Even when it eventually needs replacing, Toyota buys the original unit back for recycling. We understand that Toyota has only had need to replace 2 Prius batteries since the model’s introduction in Australia. In reality, by the time that any owner needs to replace a main battery once the car has passed out of warranty, with technology advancing daily and prices of any electronic goods dropping drastically in proportion (witness plasma TV’s and computers), the cost of replacement could well be half (or less) than what it would cost today.

Is the Prius a small car?

The Prius is surprisingly roomy inside, and fits 3 tall adults comfortably in the rear seats. Leg-room is particularly generous. The interior is comparable in size with a mid-size vehicle, and there are numerous storage areas in addition to a spacious hatchback luggage area. The Prius is becoming very popular world-wide (including in Australia) as a taxi. As a further vote of confidence, there are Prius taxis overseas which are known to have driven over 400,000 km without major problems. Taxi owners buy vehicles which will be reliable and make them money….not cost them money.


the 2004-09 NHW20 Prius I-tech has a 5-star rating as per Australian Standard crash test standards, while the new 2009 on ZVW30 models are both 5 star rated.

In the event of a Prius being involved in a serious accident, the management system isolates the High Voltage battery instantaneously so that the car is rendered safe electrically, and all emergency services are aware of this.

Early Models

“Grey Imports” (NHW10 1997-2000) were a Japan-only model, never intended for export. Although many were brought in to Australia by importers who offered no proper service or parts support, it is very risky to purchase one…..either from a used car dealer or privately.

As they were a pioneer model, teething problems were expected to inevitably occur, and these are now becoming apparent. Toyota Australia fully supports any Prius originally sold here from the NHW11 in mid-2001 onwards, but support for the very early models is not generally offered here because they were not intended for export and accordingly, technical information and parts were not supplied from Japan.

Subsequent models have proven to be largely problem-free, particularly the 2nd Generation  NHW20 series and later, and have an excellent reliability record.

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