It's no secret that one of the obstacles automakers must overcome to sell hybrids is the apprehension consumers have about driving range and how far they'll be able to go before refueling...

Now Toyota is bragging that its Prius plug-in hybrid hit the equivalent of 581 miles per gallon on Germany’s famous Nürburgring Grand Prix-style race track, known as the “The Green Hell” for its challenging curves and steep climbs in the forests 75 miles northwest of Frankfurt. 

According to a video posted on Toyota’s YouTube channel, automotive journalist Joe Clifford ran the 12.9-mile loop almost exclusively on the car’s electric power, using gasoline only on the uphill climbs.

Toyota  was the first automaker to mass produce a hybrid, and the Prius remains the most popular one on the market even as competing brands are beginning to grab market share.

Granted, this Prius was decked out in weight-saving features from Toyota Racing Development, such as low-resistance tires and aerodynamic front and rear bumpers. Clifford also kept the average speed of his run to 40 miles per hour, making the loop in an agonizingly slow 21 minutes, more than three times longer than a typical run.

International Business Times says the purpose of the publicity stunt was to underscore the Prius plug-in hybrid’s ability to handle a commute using almost no fuel, at least by European standards, where people tend to drive more slowly and live closer to their jobs than Americans.

First introduced in 2010, the Prius plug-in hybrid is rated by the U.S. Department of Energy at 95 miles per gallon equivalent in combined city and highway driving. The U.S. rates the car’s range at six miles on electric-only power. A feather-footed driving practice called 'hypermiling' can squeeze out extra efficiency by driving at a slow, moderate pace and coasting on hills.