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The Great Hybrid Battery Debate

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    I would not consider the batteries a non issue. If in fact they last the 10 years that CARB has forced Toyota to warrant them, I would be forced to agree. That is a long time for any battery to last. We shall see. The current batteries in the oldest gen 2 Prius are not 5 years old yet. My understanding is the batteries in the gen 1 Prius were recalled. Something to do with terminals. There were only a handful of the original Prius sold. Hardly a good representation. If the first Gen 2 Prius are still going strong at 8-9-10 years without battery deterioration I will admit to being wrong.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    The Federal Govt and Toyota each separately have tested the hybrids to 160,000 mi and 180,000 mi respectively with neither finding any significant deterioration in the batteries or their performance. Need citations? At these mileage levels, as with most vehicles, the vehicles are essentialy used up. Beyond 180,000 who cares. If the batteries are going go at least 180,000 miles, or 15 yrs at normal driving, why is this even an issue.

    Go right on this site and look up any high volume passenger vehicle with 180,000 mi and/or 15 yrs on it. It's worth less than $500! Who cares if the battery goes out at 180K or 200K or 220K miles? The vehicle is worth nothing anyway. This objection that's constantly being raised over and over again is truely a tempest in a teapot.
    93 Camry 150,000 mi = $455
    94 Accord 180,000 mi = $250
    95 Taurus 130,000 mi = $190
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary says, "If the first Gen 2 Prius are still going strong at 8-9-10 years without battery deterioration I will admit to being wrong."

    Well, it's not MAGIC Gary. There will without a doubt be "some battery deterioration" and that FACT is unavoidable.

    But how much it affects the mileage will be the key point. Most of the older, highest mileage Priuses which have been reported on show little or no loss in MPG as they age.

    After a battery has 8-10 years on it, the performance of the battery cannot help but be affected.

    I'm the one saying "Prius batteries will not FAIL EN MASSE" over time. There will be a few failures out of warranty, for sure. I think that number will still hover around minuscule to barely a blip.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    I do understand your logic in thinking the mileage is the most important figure in calculating a vehicles life. We on the other hand look at Years of life. Our 1990 LS400 has not reached 95,000 miles yet. It is still running. We just replaced the 12 volt battery that was warranted for 7 years. It made it with one month to spare. I realize that lead acid and NiMH are different and have different life characteristics. For you to say that the Prius battery will last 150K miles is just crazy talk. When you look at the average 15k miles people drive that is 10 years. We have no data backing up what you are saying. Miles mean nothing in the scope of time.

    You also like to show that any vehicle that is 10 years old is worthless to the owner. It is worthless to a dealer. It is possibly all the owner can afford. If after 10 years he has to replace an expensive battery that will make the Prius WORTHLESS. So I guess by your definition the Prius is a 10 year throwaway vehicle. I would probably agree with that.

    Our 19 year old LS400 runs and looks better than many 3-5 year old cars. If we had to replace a $4k to $6k component I would give it to Father Carlucci as a donation. The point being I don't want a car that has that kind of built in expensive component that is deteriorating whether it is being used or not. That is the nature of batteries. It will be the Achilles heel of all EVs in the future. Fine for high mileage drivers not so good for low mileage long term owners.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary says, "For you to say that the Prius battery will last 150K miles is just crazy talk."

    Ditto from me for anyone who says it won't. We already have Priuses with that many miles. :) ( However you slice your comment, it's merely an anti-hybrid, biased opinion, is it not? )

    The Prius might be a 10-yr throwaway vehicle for some owners. Just as many gasoline cars also are treated. But about 90% of the Prius can or will be recycled - so who loses?

    A solution which will please you Gary: "Long term low mileage drivers" can just keep buying gasoline cars as long as they are available.

    Battery technology WILL SOMEDAY reach the point of lifetime batteries and/or an affordable replacement for the 10-yr owner. Book it. It's gonna happen.

    If not, then non-fossil-fueled cars will adopt some other sort of alternative power technology.

    There are too many smart people in the world for this to not be figured out.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    Well, it's not MAGIC Gary. There will without a doubt be "some battery deterioration" and that FACT is unavoidable.

    That has been one of the sticking points in my mind since the hybrid hit the streets. For those of us conservative drivers will the hybrid be a good "green" long term purchase? If it needs a new battery after 10 years the answer is a resounding NO! Which brings up the real issue. At what point will the automaker be forced to change the battery? At 50% 60% 70% 80% of original capacity. I would say when it drops below 80% it should start losing mileage. That is just an educated guess.

    I noticed about a year ago that the Lexus starter seemed sluggish. Truth is it was the deterioration of the battery. It finally failed in front of the Costco gas pump. Called AAA and they came and installed a new battery. That sluggish starter sound is gone. It is like we have a new car for $124 including tax and installation. I don't think the person with a 19 year old Prius will be so lucky. All that smugness at the gas pump when they are filling for less than I am will go away. If there ever is such a thing as a 19 year old hybrid.... I just doubt it. Sad isn't it?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    Ditto from me for anyone who says it won't.

    That is the 10 year average driver. We shall see if you are right after 5 more years. The fact that my car would be worthless and 90% recycled is very comforting indeed. :sick:

    I know that our LS400 is probably worthless to a dealer. It still runs great and is how I think all vehicles should be built. Sadly they are not and we are tossing them after just a few years. I dare say the new Lexus will not hold up as well as the first of the breed. What does that say about Toyota and Lexus as automakers. Green does not come to mind. A green car to me is one that is still good after 20 years. There are many environmentalist that share my view. Auto salesmen are definitely not in that group. Mercedes has probably built the most green cars over the last 30 years. Last I read they were awarded greenest car on the planet award. Though it probably would not pass my test for longevity. All people think about is emissions from the exhaust. That is not all we should be measuring.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary sarcastically says, "The fact that my car would be worthless and 90% recycled is very comforting indeed."

    All cars reach "worthless" at some point, unless totaled or retired early.

    Cars which are driven as commuter cars are not an investment (other than collector cars, we know) - they are a consumable which eventually gets consumed down to nothing.

    Gary says, "A green car to me is one that is still good after 20 years."

    Lucky for the rest of the world that is only one man's opinion.

    Gary says, "Last I read they were awarded greenest car on the planet award."

    Where did you see that? I'd like to see someone who put them ahead of Honda.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    For you to say that the Prius battery will last 150K miles is just crazy talk. When you look at the average 15k miles people drive that is 10 years. We have no data backing up what you are saying. Miles mean nothing in the scope of time.

    Sorry this is not accurate. As I noted both the Federal Govt, Idaho National Labs, and Toyota have separately tested the Toyota hybrids to 160,000 and 180,000 miles respectively with no significant deterioration in performance. As a matter of fact in the Feds test I believe that the Gen2 got slightly better FE after 160,000 miles ( break in ) than it did in the beginning. There is data and it's published and done scientifically.

    Now that the mileage question is put to rest, you are only surmising that age has to overwhelm the batteries because that's the only arrow left in your risk quiver. But that's only your personal viewpoint. Nothing else. There is no proof at all that age up to 10 or 15 yrs has any significant effect on the performance of the hybrid batteries. There are no vehicles that old yet. Nonetheless the CARB warranty is 10 years. Up to that time there is no risk.


    You also like to show that any vehicle that is 10 years old is worthless to the owner. It is worthless to a dealer. It is possibly all the owner can afford. If after 10 years he has to replace an expensive battery that will make the Prius WORTHLESS. So I guess by your definition the Prius is a 10 year throwaway vehicle. I would probably agree with that.

    And at 10+ years old ALL mass market vehicles, not hand made LS400's, are next to worthless. At 15 yrs of age they are in fact worthless. An owner may have an unreasoning love of his or her teenager but that doesn't eliminate the fact that it is worthless. It may have some utility but it has no cash value if an attempt were to be made to turn it into cash other than for parts.

    Our 19 year old LS400 runs and looks better than many 3-5 year old cars. If we had to replace a $4k to $6k component I would give it to Father Carlucci as a donation. The point being I don't want a car that has that kind of built in expensive component that is deteriorating whether it is being used or not. That is the nature of batteries. It will be the Achilles heel of all EVs in the future. Fine for high mileage drivers not so good for low mileage long term owners.

    This may be true but there's no proof one way or another. It's all wait and see at this point. But the key point I believe here is that while I will grant that there's no guarantee of a 20 yr problem-free life, neither can the doubting Thomas's impute an automatic cost of replacement at the end of the warranty period. There simply is no absolute proof of age longevity.

    There is however beginning to be a volume of proof that mileage has no bearing on the performance of the batteries. 250,000 miles or 300,000 miles seems very very likely. We shall soon see with my friend Mr Carbot who just turned over 203,000 miles. That's the 2nd Prius he purchased from me. I'm chasing him but I'm far behind at 30 months ( 81,000 mi ) while he's at 54 months ( 203,000 mi ). He will likely reach 250,000 - 260,000 by the time his Gen 3 arrives next summer.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    There is however beginning to be a volume of proof that mileage has no bearing on the performance of the batteries. 250,000 miles or 300,000 miles seems very very likely. We shall soon see with my friend Mr Carbot who just turned over 203,000 miles. That's the 2nd Prius he purchased from me. I'm chasing him but I'm far behind at 30 months ( 81,000 mi ) while he's at 54 months ( 203,000 mi ). He will likely reach 250,000 - 260,000 by the time his Gen 3 arrives next summer

    All nice mileage figures. There is a 900k mile Mercedes Sprinter still going in Germany. That again has nothing to do with aging gracefully. I don't think the hybrids will have that luxury.

    Now that the mileage question is put to rest

    Mileage has never been a consideration in my buying a vehicle EVER. It has always been longevity. It was longevity on this forum when the Prius first came to San Diego. When we see Prius of any ilk still going strong with good MPG when they are 10 years old I will be convinced. Nothing you or Larsb have said gives me a warm feeling about the longevity of a hybrid. The only thing I see with a vehicle that is 3 years old and 100k miles is some poor slob that spends too much of his life behind the wheel of a car. Risking my life 10k miles per year is plenty.

    We can come back to this in 5 years if you like...
  • avalon02whavalon02wh Posts: 726
    "That has been one of the sticking points in my mind since the hybrid hit the streets. For those of us conservative drivers will the hybrid be a good "green" long term purchase? If it needs a new battery after 10 years the answer is a resounding NO! "

    You are not a conservative driver/purchaser. You need to check the definition of the word conservative.

    You bought a Sequoia which uses
    $4102 dollars of fuels per year,
    Needs 22.8 Barrels of oil per year,
    Emits 12.2 tons of CO2 per year, and
    Has an air pollution score of 3

    And you are worried about the batteries on a Prius lasting 10 years!

    How much value is left in that Sequoia now that fuel prices are high?
    Trade in 2007 Sequoia, 15,000 miles = $18,200
    Trade in 2007 Prius, 15,000 miles = $25,225

    If I was a Prius owner I'd be shaking in my boots about spending a few thousand dollars on batteries in ten years. [Bob Newhart :D ] Those of you that bought a Sequoia, on the other hand, watched your SUV drop $15,000 to $20,000 in depreciation in just two years.

    Let's get down to the root issue about the Prius. There is a whole segment of people that just can't handle saving fuel because, well let me quote the following;

    "Now, more than ever, we need Hummer, in all its defiant, obnoxious, thoroughly American glory. "
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/11/AR2008071102535.- html

    The battery issue is just a smoke screen brought up by people that just cannot stomach a fuel efficient or environmentally friendly vehicle. We can't have the "Terminator" driving around in a battery powered car, can we? Its just not American, or at least their definition of American.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    You bought a Sequoia which uses
    $4102 dollars of fuels per year,
    Needs 22.8 Barrels of oil per year,
    Emits 12.2 tons of CO2 per year, and
    Has an air pollution score of 3

    And you are worried about the batteries on a Prius lasting 10 years!


    You do make a lot of assumptions in your posts. First our Sequoia only has 5700 miles after 10 months of use including one trip to AZ and several trips to the desert. The car we use the most is our 1990 LS400 that is nearing the 95k mile mark on the Odo. What are the odds that we could have kept a Prius for 19 years with nothing major failing?

    Let's get down to the root issue about the Prius. There is a whole segment of people that just can't handle saving fuel


    Again you are assuming that is me. If you could go back on this site to 1998 you would have found my first posts were in search of a more fuel efficient PU truck. Ten years later there are still NO decent fuel efficient PU trucks sold in the USA. Every other country in the world have diesel PU trucks getting 30-45 MPG except US. So maybe it is contrarian position when we buy big SUVs in this country. It just may be we are trying to tell our flaky government that we are unhappy with their ignorant regulations and tariffs (aka as chicken tax).

    Yes the Sequoia dropped $10k before it ever left the dealers lot. And they are the ones that took that loss. I am patient and will find someone that just has to have a 2007 Sequoia Limited 4X4 that is loaded after I get a diesel SUV that I like. I beat the odds with the GMC Hybrid PU by waiting. It was worth $7000 more than the GMC dealer would offer me.

    So I am not worried nearly as much as I would with the clock ticking on that Prius Battery life.

    We will know more in 5+ years about hybrid battery longevity.

    Gas to date on 07 Sequoia $1248.73. Just filled so good for a safe motoring 300 miles :shades:
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Prius Battery replacement costs announced:

    Not $4000

    Also at the seminar, Toyota announced a price cut for replacement battery packs for its Prius hybrids. Built in a joint venture with Panasonic, the replacement battery for the first-generation Prius costs $2,299; for the second-generation model, the cost is $2,588. The replacement nickel-metal-hydride batteries previously cost $2,985 for either variety. There are more than 600,000 of the hybrids on the road. Prices are for replacements after the warranty expires. The original-equipment batteries carry a 10-year/150,000-mile warranty in California-compliant states and an eight-year/80,000-mile warranty elsewhere.

    So now the "out of warranty" owners can start budgeting.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    I hit 90,000 miles yesterday in 34 months. VA is a Fed Warranty state.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    Does that price include the core rebate? If it is like most dealers, you will get a different price at 10 different dealers. Plus what is the labor charge to replace and re-program the computer? Based on the cost of an oil change at Toyota, that could be a grand or more.
  • I hope someone can help. I just read this short article at ButteryBlend.com that talks about new Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries that will revolutionize hybrid cars. What do they use now? Lithium Cobalt Oxide batteries? Awesome article none the less. Thanks for the time.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Those prices are the walkup full retail prices at the Parts Desk, sans labor or old battery rebate ( $200 ). Over on PriusChat I read that a swap in and out takes about 4 hours or about $500 in labor. Also over there I read that one dealer is offering the batteries under $2000 already.

    If the cost of labor for the swap is based on the cost of oil changes here then the price would be FREE... ;)
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    Not at my dealership. It cost $64.60 for the 5000 mile oil and filter change. Using cheapo 30 weight dino oil. It was $70 more for synthetic. It will be my last service at Toyota for sure. GMC across the street sent me free oil change coupons on my GMC PU truck. In 13k miles I never paid a penny for service.

    So in CA I would expect a battery change for a Prius to top $5,000 easy. Maybe more.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    Has anyone actually figured the "Break Even" cost of Hybrid vs Conventional with equal amenities.

    Talking about initial difference of purchase price. A while back I compared the MSRP of a Civic Hybrid vs a comparably equipped conventional engined Civic. Seems the difference was in the $5k range. Another factor to consider is that dealers are most likely more willing to "deal" in a conventional engined car. But for the purposes of this post, consider a $4k difference.

    Example: At 7%, Financing a $24K car loan for 72 months would cost $447.59 monthly, $32,226 total cost. While financing $20K would be $373 monthly, $26855 total cost. $5371 extra total for the Hybrid.

    At 15K miles a year, Simple math says over the 72 months the 45 average mpg hybrid will use 2, 000 gallon of fuel. While a 32 mph conventional car would burn 2,812 gallons. Hybrid saves 812 gallons of fuel.

    At $4 per gallon the hybrid would save $3248 in fuel cost. At $5 the hybrid would save $4060 in fuel. So it seems the break even point would be much longer than 6 years and 90K miles for the typical driver.

    This is assuming nothing goes wrong with the batteries or any of the other components that operate the "Hybrid" system. So far we have only been told that the batteries last a long time. What about the other "Hybrid" components?

    Obviously more complicated math than I've used here would fall into play. Figuring in if the fuel saved each month was used to buy CDs and so forth.

    Kip
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    First there is no such concept as 'Break Even' in this analysis unless you use the vehicle for some business purpose and generate income from its use. What you mean to say is ...
    "If I keep a vehicle for 'X' number of years ( pick a number ) then which of the following two vehicles will cost me less over that timeframe and miles driven factoring in fuel costs, maintenance, insurance and resale value"

    Has anyone actually figured the "Break Even" cost of Hybrid vs Conventional with equal amenities.

    Yes this has been done so often it's very old news and the problem is ALWAYS posed incorrectly ( see above ). CR does it about once or twice a year. They just published an article with that info in it.

    Talking about initial difference of purchase price. A while back I compared the MSRP of a Civic Hybrid vs a comparably equipped conventional engined Civic. Seems the difference was in the $5k range. Another factor to consider is that dealers are most likely more willing to "deal" in a conventional engined car. But for the purposes of this post, consider a $4k difference.

    Your math is WAY OFF here in regards to the Civic gasser vs HCH. At most it's about $3000. The Prius is $4000 more than the Matrix. The TCH ranges from $1500 to $3000 more than the gasser Camry depending on trim level.

    Example: At 7%, Financing a $24K car loan for 72 months would cost $447.59 monthly, $32,226 total cost. While financing $20K would be $373 monthly, $26855 total cost. $5371 extra total for the Hybrid.

    OK you were talking about adding in the financing costs. Your numbers sound about correct.

    At 15K miles a year, Simple math says over the 72 months the 45 average mpg hybrid will use 2, 000 gallon of fuel. While a 32 mph conventional car would burn 2,812 gallons. Hybrid saves 812 gallons of fuel.

    At $4 per gallon the hybrid would save $3248 in fuel cost. At $5 the hybrid would save $4060 in fuel. So it seems the break even point would be much longer than 6 years and 90K miles for the typical driver.

    This is assuming nothing goes wrong with the batteries or any of the other components that operate the "Hybrid" system. So far we have only been told that the batteries last a long time. What about the other "Hybrid" components?

    Obviously more complicated math than I've used here would fall into play. Figuring in if the fuel saved each month was used to buy CDs and so forth.


    Your math on the fuel savings is accurate also even to the point of factoring in an inflation estimate. Most don't do this ( including Edmunds ).

    But what all the analyses miss is RESALE value, especially if fuel does go north of $4 or $5 a gallon.

    That $4000 premium initially paid is partially recovered when the vehicle is sold. The shorter period that the vehicle is held the more of the 'hybrid premium' is recovered at resale. A 6 y.o. hybrid is worth more than a 6 y.o. gasser of the same model. How much more depends on the vehicle, the market at the time and a lot of other factors. As an example last July USED 1 y.o. Prius' which originally has an MSRP of $22000, with 10-12000 miles on them, were going for $26000 - $28000 at auctions. Not only was there no depreciation but the buyers actually had 25% appreciation. Now if you say that you're a 'keeper' normally staying with a vehicle for 10-12 years, then the fuel savings will accumulate for another 6 years or another $3000-$4000 in savings. Yes it's a close decision as to whether the costs equal each other

    Regarding the maintenance on the hybrid systems....there is NONE. As in ZERO! It's all electric so there's nothing to be done to them. Since they've been on the market now for 11 yrs it's becoming apparent that the hybrid electric components might be the MOST reliable parts of the vehicle. It's one reason why there's so much interest now in PHEVs, E-REVs, EVs, etc.
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