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The Great Hybrid Battery Debate

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  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    I had not heard of this before:

    Insurance policies for hybrids are the same as for any other car, however, some insurers will automatically replace a hybrid's battery if it has been damaged in an accident – a cost of up to $3,000 – rather than risk the repair of this new technology.

    From this link
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    This dude is my hero. This is about 248,000 miles for those wondering about the conversion.

    Just dumb luck, or superior engineering?

    In addition, he said the vehicle costs only one-third the usual expenses on maintenance over a 24-month period because it has fewer wear-and-tear components. His current Prius recently surpassed 400,000 kilometres with no hybrid component failures.

    As the highest mileage 2004 model on the road, it will be shipped back to Toyota in Japan shortly to be stripped down for research, just as with the 2001 model that Mr. Grant turned to taxi duty back on Nov. 1, 2000.

    Mr. Grant also suffers less when gas prices climb.

    "Every 10 cents a litre that gas goes up, we're looking at a $1.20 to $1.50 per shift increase in fuel costs," he said. "A regular cab driver is looking at between $3.30 a shift and $5.50 a shift. That is just phenomenal."
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    I wonder if he charges less for the loss of comfort in the Prius vs a Full sized cab? I would expect a good break.

    I don't think 400k kilometers in 3 years is a good indicator of battery life in the Prius. We are getting people with failed batteries in the 2001 Prius. The real test is the next 5-7 years when the average Prius user has had the vehicle 7-10 years. You can see a dramatic price drop when the used hybrids get close to 100k miles. No one wants to get stuck with an out of warranty traction battery.

    Extreme cases are not an indication of what the average user can expect. Why did he give it back to Toyota unless is was wore out. Or do they keep giving him new ones to test for them?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    What "loss of comfort" are you talking about? Have you sat in the backseat of a Prius? I have. There is nothing "uncomfortable" about it.

    My point about the 250,000 miles is that all these people who have said the Prius will not last that many miles - well, here is your first example of how wrong you will be.

    He gave it back to Toyota probably for the same reason he gave his other one back to them - so they could test it. It's a great test case for their technology and they can learn what went wrong and can learn what (if any) components were doing extremely well or were on their final legs.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    I doubt it is as comfortable with the leg room of a Town Car.

    Mileage is only one element in the life of a vehicle. My concern has always been years of trouble free service. Not miles. When I see the Prius II running around for 10 years without battery failures I will believe Toyota was correct. I would also like to know at what point of deterioration will Toyota feel compelled to replace a battery?

    Batteries in laptops are subject to a different kind of abuse. deep discharge and fully recharged. They start losing their ability to give full service very soon after you buy them. Most are only warranted for 90 days.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Toyota's software does a very good job of maintaining the life of battery and extending it as far as possible with the available technology.

    Nickel Metal Hydride Battery

    World's top level input/output to weight ratio - light weight, long life.

    In addition to being light-weight and having a long service life, the high power output nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery used in the HYBRID SYNERGY DRIVE system provides a high input/output to weight ratio (power output in relation to weight). It does not require recharging from an outside power source, nor does it require periodical replacement.

    The connection structure of the cells (individual batteries) has been redesigned and different materials are employed for the electrodes resulting in lower internal resistance. The battery unit integrated into Prius delivers approximately 540 W/kg, one of the highest input/output to weight ratios in the world.

    Furthermore, the system maintains the battery charge at a constant level at all times by monitoring and computing the cumulative amount of discharge under acceleration, and recharging by regenerative braking or with surplus power under normal running conditions. This avoidance of excessive battery draining/recharging is another reason for the long life of the battery.


    The battery cells are now connected to each other at two points to reduce internal resistance in the battery pack. The computer can use the generating force from all three MG units to recharge the batteries and is programmed to keep them between 80% and 40% charge. As the Toyota specialist says, this makes for a "happy battery".

    It's not a Duracell battery, Gary. It's designed and implemented with long life in mind.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    gary says, "I doubt it is as comfortable with the leg room of a Town Car."

    Well, you are in a short cab ride. You are not there to take a nap and relax and see how far you can stretch your legs.

    No one I have heard about who owns or has ridden in a Prius thinks the rear leg room is inadequate for a normal-sized person not taking a nap.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    I will check it out for myself. I have not found a mid sized car I would want to go far in. I would not ask someone else to do that either. You pay more for a Limo, you should pay less for a mid size cab. Why would they not want to pass the savings on to their customers?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary, do you know of any normal sized, normal budget (middle class or below) person who rents a Limo because the legroom is too small in a Town Car?

    People don't rent a Limo for legroom. Normal (i.e. not NBA players) people rent a Limo for a lot of reasons, but legroom is not one of them.

    You are not renting a cab for the voluminous room inside. You are renting it to carry your stuff and you from point A to point B as quickly as possible. I've been in countries where all the cabs are small cars. The people there aren't clamoring for Town Cars.

    There are hundreds if not thousands of hybrid cabs in the world in use right now. If they were inadequate, we would be seeing stories about cab companies reducing their hybrid fleet and going back to big ole gas guzzlers.

    Have you seen any of those stories? No, I have not either. So it's not happening.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    I'm not sure of your point. Hybrid cabs are very rare. The only place I have seen the Prius used as a cab is in Victoria BC. There the trips are blocks long. Not 25 miles as mine from the airport to home. I always negotiate the price prior to setting foot in the cab. I don't like to be taken the long way home by a crooked cabby. By the same token I pick a cab that is big enough for my luggage and passengers. 99% of the cabs in San Diego are full sized cars or vans. The price I pay I expect comfort. It is usually $50 one way to my home. I would refuse to ride in a cab that my knees are against the back of the front seat. I don't care how much the cabby saved a year by owning a little hybrid.

    PS
    If I was not so tight I could get a Limo for $75.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    My points are:

    1. Hybrid cabs are in use in a LOT of cities. The list includes at minimum Boston, San Fran, Chicago, New York, San Antonio, and as you mentioned Victoria BC.

    2. No one is complaining (either cab riders or cab drivers or cab companies) that hybrid cabs are too small.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    From me a cabby with a Prius gets 25 bucks not a penny more. They can take or leave it.
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,808
    GM has a solution of sorts to the problem of battery overheating in electric and hybrid vehicles, and I've made it the subject of today's Alternate Route.

    Chill Out

    PFFlyer@Edmunds

    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Maybe Toyota or GM ought to buy this technology:

    This battery seems to Rock

    The odometer of a low emission hybrid electric test vehicle today reached 100,000 miles as the car circled a track in the UK using the power of an advanced CSIRO battery system.

    The UltraBattery combines a supercapacitor and a lead acid battery in a single unit, creating a hybrid car battery that lasts longer, costs less and is more powerful than current technologies used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

    “The UltraBattery is a leap forward for low emission transport and uptake of HEVs,” said David Lamb, who leads low emissions transport research with the Energy Transformed National Research Flagship.

    “Previous tests show the UltraBattery has a life cycle that is at least four times longer and produces 50 per cent more power than conventional battery systems. It’s also about 70 per cent cheaper than the batteries currently used in HEVs,” he said.
    By marrying a conventional fuel-powered engine with a battery to drive an electric motor, HEVs achieve the dual environmental benefit of reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption.

    The UltraBattery also has the ability to provide and absorb charge rapidly during vehicle acceleration and braking, making it particularly suitable for HEVs, which rely on the electric motor to meet peak power needs during acceleration and can recapture energy normally wasted through braking to recharge the battery.
    Over the past 12 months, a team of drivers has put the UltraBattery to the test at the Millbrook Proving Ground in the United Kingdom, one of Europe’s leading locations for the development and demonstration of land vehicles.
    “Passing the 100,000 miles mark is strong evidence of the UltraBattery’s capabilities,” Mr Lamb said.

    “CSIRO’s ongoing research will further improve the technology’s capabilities, making it lighter, more efficient and capable of setting new performance standards for HEVs.”

    The UltraBattery test program for HEV applications is the result of an international collaboration. The battery system was developed by CSIRO in Australia, built by the Furukawa Battery Company of Japan and tested in the United Kingdom through the American-based Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium.

    UltraBattery technology also has applications for renewable energy storage from wind and solar. CSIRO is part of a technology start-up that will develop and commercialise battery-based storage solutions for these energy sources.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    Now that battery sounds like it has promise. Where I have little faith in Li-Ion ever working. Even if it does the cost factor makes it prohibitive. This battery at 70% less cost might be what is needed for a good EV. A break through was needed. This may be it.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    So we'll probably start seeing these lead-acid batteries in laptops, cell phones, power tools pretty soon. I don't think so.

    Lead-acid batteries will improve, like all batteries. You can't escape their fundamental chemical limitations. They don't now or ever will have the potential that Li-ion batteries have in terms of energy density.

    Your posts imply that you have some unique insight into this matter that escapes all the major auto manufacturers. I suspect that you have a laptop that remains plugged in even when you're away from the house, like most people. Maybe I'm wrong but if that is the case aren't you afraid of this battery burning your house down? Maybe you consider the possibility so remote that the risk is acceptable, again, like most people.

    Just recently Renault/Nissan announced plans to introduce an EV around 2010, which uses a Li-ion battery pack. Maybe they should be consulting with you before they squander too much money on this dead-end endeavour.

    With all that said I do think that lead-acid batteries have a future, albeit limited, in terms of low cost EVs. And incorporating ultra-capacitors will allow them to maximize their efficiency and utility. So I view this particular advance, if credible, as a good thing.

    Transitioning to EVs will be a long term process. If in 10 years 5% of the vehicles on the road are EVs I'd consider that a big success.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    Not sure of your point. You seem to be saying the overpriced Li-Ion technology will be used in mainstream vehicles. I disagree. It is always 2010 or 2-3 years hence. I have watched the Prius talk since they hit our shores. A plug in version was going to be the new revolution in automobiles. Well it is 8 years later and not much closer.
    I do leave a laptop plugged in from time to time. And my latest is Li-Ion. I guess I am depending on the charger technology too much. I have never felt the battery get warm which is a sign of overcharging on any battery. To me the killer for Li-Ion is price even more than fire hazard.

    I think we are both hoping for the same thing. That is a break through to a truly usable energy storage system that is cost effective. The older I get the less likely I will see EVs as mainstream transportation. I may be disappointed but not distraught.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    You seem to be saying the overpriced Li-Ion technology will be used in mainstream vehicles. I disagree. It is always 2010 or 2-3 years hence. I have watched the Prius talk since they hit our shores. A plug in version was going to be the new revolution in automobiles.

    So in 2004 were people talking about EVs powered by Li-ion batteries by 2006-2007? I sure don't remember this. In fact if you asked the average person back then what the chances of a major automanufacturer producing an EV or PHEV by 2010 their answer would probably be there is almost zero chance and what's a PHEV? Ask the same question now and the answer would be very different. So if anything the timeline for EVs and PHEVs has accelerated, it's not something that's always been 2-3 years in the future. My guess is there will be a limited number of EVs, PHEVs by 2010 but by 2011 the availability will increase substantially.

    Toyota's Li-ion batteries
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    So in 2004 were people talking about EVs powered by Li-ion batteries by 2006-2007?

    Actually they were saying they would be available earlier than that. The conversions started shortly after the Prius II came on the market.

    Turning the Prius into a Plug-in Hybrid
    14 December 2004

    The California Cars Initiative (CalCars), a non-profit startup dedicated to jump-starting the market for plug-in hybrids (PHEV), is building a prototype Prius (the Prius+) capable of functioning as a plug-in hybrid and running in full EV (electric vehicle) mode for longer distances than possible with the original Toyota equipment.

    The CalCars team is adding a different battery pack and grid-charging capabilities. The group has started with a prototype using lead-acid batteries that delivers less than 10 miles of EV-only range at low speeds. They hope to upgrade to a custom-built NiMH pack for an expected range of some 20 miles. CalCars would like to build a second prototype using a Li-Ion battery and hope for a 30+ mile range.


    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2004/12/turning_the_pri.html

    PS
    I was looking for an EV or Diesel small PU when the Prius came out in 2000.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I'm very familiar with CalCars. They proved a concept and their site provides some links to these small companies that do conversions, some using Li-ion batteries. In that regard they were never saying PHEV's were 3 years away. They were stating that the technology exists now and they had a handful of conversions to back up that claim. However I don't get the sense that CalCars ever believed these conversions would become a vehicle for the masses. They focused their efforts on getting the major manufacturers on board with the idea of PHEVs. It's only in the last 18 months that companies like Chrysler, GM, Ford, and Toyota have bought into this concept. These are the companies stating they can bring PHEV's to the market in 2-3 years and they weren't saying this in 2004. Now if 2010 rolls around and these same companies are now saying PHEV's will be available in 2013 then you've got a point. I don't believe that will be the case. These companies seem to be in a race with each other to see who can be first. As far as the batteries being ready I'm hearing more positive comments than cautionary ones.

    Will these vehicles be affordable for the masses? Maybe not at first but that's irrelevant since the production capacity might not even be enough to satisfy the early adopters who aren't all that sensitive to price. Hopefully by the time this group has been saturated prices will have come down. If the first Chevy Volts sold for $25k the buyer would probably just turn around and sell it on ebay for $35k. So there really isn't much point in this vehicle being affordable when it first comes out.
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