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The Great Hybrid Battery Debate



  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    If I buy a hybrid, I want a warranty given in years, not meaningless mileage.

    Well, 8 years is the shortest hybrid battery warranty in the US for most states whereas 10 years is the warranty in the CARB states.
  • bobadbobad Posts: 1,587
    A 10 year unconditional guarantee is good enough.

    Now that the batteries are guaranteed long enough, the prices will have to come down. I don't see any re sale value on a 10 year old hybrid that the battery is out of warranty.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Yep that's exactly what it is in the CARB states. 8 years elsewhere.

    The resale on a 10 y.o. hybrid is likely to be the same as the resale on a 10 y.o. non-hybrid, about $1000-$2000. Maybe if it's in good shape and runs and the miles are not ridiculously high. At 15 yrs they both are worth the same...Nothing.
  • The unconditional guarantee isn't exactly that. Yoou can quote all you want about coporate information as kdhspyder has but you then have to look at the real environment. There have been failures of the batteries whereby the car is basically unuseable, howver the Car Vendoor has stated thtat the battery has not failed to the level that it warrants replacement. So what do you do? The car vendor says the battery is good becuase it hasn't fallen to its replacement threshold measurement but the consumer has a sup-par car.

    Failure is in the eye of the beholder.

    Think about rechargeable batteries; I am sure you have bought them. They state they can be recharged up to 1,000 times. But after awhile well, well below a thousand charges the battery losses its charge very,very quickly. Does it still work? Yes Has it failed? No is it really useable? NO.

    Honda Insights have had failures. Toyotas Hybrid owners have reported failures; but Toyota says there have been no failures. Who is right? Maybe it is the legal defintion of failure.

    Batterires fail. If anyone thinks a battery will last 8 years or 10 years then good luck. Just remember the words "Caveat Emptor".

  • bobadbobad Posts: 1,587
    Well stated.

    Batteries start ramping down the day they are manufacured. An NiMH cell loses capacity over time whether it is used or not. After 5 years in 100 Deg. heat, it is bound to lose a signiifcant percentage of its capacity. Individual cells can vary too. Some cells in the pack die or lose significant capacity sooner than others. The more cells in a pack, the higher likelihood of individual cell failure. I would like to see some real world tests on 10 year old packs, but that's almost impossible because there are probably none actually that old yet.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Well since we are reaching the 5,6 and 7 year mark on the the Prius' your theory will begin to be proven or disproven, although it's unlikely than anyone has driven their vehicles in the Sahara for the last 5 years.

    There are still no indications that there is any deterioration in performance in the early Prius ( there weren't many on the road initially though ).
  • bobadbobad Posts: 1,587
    There are still no indications that there is any deterioration in performance in the early Prius

    How do you know? It takes cell capacity tests to prove that. The absence of widespread complaints prove nothing.

    One doesn't have to drive in the Sahara for underhood temperatures to reach 120F. Not only that, but NiMH cells are notorious for generating internal heat from normal charge and discharge.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,379
    NiMH cells are notorious for generating internal heat from normal charge and discharge.

    There are several documented cases of the Prius traction battery catching on fire. One was while the car was parked in the dealers lot waiting to be worked on. If that does not constitute a battery failure, what does? At least one poster I recall was battling with Honda over battery deterioration. They would not replace it even though it was at about 80% of original capacity. Are we going to need an independant company come in and arbitrate when a battery is not working at full capacity? As it deteriorates it will affect your mileage.

    One question. Does the HSD system charge to 80% of original capacity or the capacity at any given point in time?
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    The maximum SoC I've seen over 27K miles is about 80-90% and about 30% on the low side ( usually early in the morning or after a couple days of non-use).

    With nearly 400,000 of these on the road just here in the US since 2001 if there were any significant numbers of battery failure everyone would know about it. The Press would be all over these reports like ...... you get the point.

    As larsb noted previously the Honda failures on the Insight were due primarily to the fact that the vehicle was a manual transmission. Since going to an auto there are no additonal reports.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    How do you know? It takes cell capacity tests to prove that. The absence of widespread complaints prove nothing

    1. There are no reports here, elsewhere or in the Press of any deterioration or loss of efficiency.

    2. Go to GreenHybrid and look at the data generated by the GenI Prius', some of which are 4 and 5 yrs old. There is no deterioration in the fuel economy of these vehicles.

    If the batteries were deteriorating significantly then the ICE's would be running more thus resulting in poorer fuel economy. It's not happening.
  • I don't own a hybrid but I've been following the information and debates. I'm curious if a battery would lose its efficacy during the later part of its life? That, of course, would affect mileage as well. It's something I've been wondering.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    That's the new skepticism being voiced here. At first it was the batteries will certainaly die shortly as do most every battery and they will cost thousands to replace - but they are not dying or having to be replaced after 4-5 years.

    Now the question, which is certainly valid, is 'Will age ( over 5 yrs ) make the batteries perform with less efficiency thereby not assisting as much as when they were new. The result being less superior fuel economy.'

    I think that the answer from we the driving public is 'We don't know yet.' According to Toyota's bench testing their indications are that there is no deterioration in performance ( fuel economy ) for well over 150,000 miles which is normally 8 - 12 yrs of driving for most.

    Based on that I for one am confident enough to expect to drive my Prius upwards of 250,000 miles. While everyone has an opinion on the matter the results are being reported daily on GreenHybrid's mileage database.
  • bobadbobad Posts: 1,587
    Based on that I for one am confident enough to expect to drive my Prius upwards of 250,000 miles.

    Remember, age and operating environment are the most important factors in battery chemistry. Mileage doesn't have much to do with battery life. I guess old habits are hard to break. It seems we tend to think of batteries in terms of engines or tires, where mileage is the key factor.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Age never is a consideration for me since I put about 40,000 miles annually on the vehicles I drive so as long as the batteries stay efficient for 6+ years or so I feel I got the use I expected.
  • bobadbobad Posts: 1,587
    In your case, miles work, because you know how many mles a year you drive. However, others drive from 5000mi per year to 50,000mi per year, so battery life given in miles can be off by a factor of 10.

    I'm be having a birthday soon. I'll be 800,000 miles old. :)
  • Actually the reason mileage comes into play is that it directly correlates with age. Notice I said correlates, not that iti s a direct function because whiel one individual might only drive 5,000 miles a year another might drive as much as 30,000 miles a year. So if you look at a car with 60,000 miles it might be as old as 12 years or as young as 2 years. But still if you have the option to buy a 2 year old car with 100,000 miles or a 3 year old car with 21,000 which car would you choose assume cost was relatively priced ?

    I am willing to be most would take the 3 year old car.


  • bobadbobad Posts: 1,587
    Of course the battery is not the only deciding factor on a used hybrid.

    Personally, all other things being equal, I would rather a 2 YO hybrid with 100K miles than a 3 YO hybrid with 21K miles. But other things are rarely equal on used cars with a 2 year age difference. Assuming a Toyota/Honda/Hyundai engine that commonly gets 250K trouble-free miles, 100K is not a lot for me, as I only drive 5K per year.

    Don't forget, you can run up 100K miles in a lab in 6 months or less. In 6 months, the battery pack is almost like new, regardless of the mileage. It's very hard to accelerate time when testing batteries.

    I was very skeptical of hybrid battery packs at first, but I'm only skeptical now. Perhaps NiMH chemistry has been greatly improved since my testing days.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,379
    Ad placed to sell a Prius. Looks like there are batteries getting replaced.

    Approx. 94,000 miles. One owner. Southern California car – no rust. Full maintenance records. All maintenance by Toyota. Original owner’s manual.-- Carpool lane access stickers included! Use California carpool lanes when driving alone! If you drive a lot in Southern California, this is an unbelievable bonus. High voltage batteries replaced at 88,000 miles. $4,000 value. Hybrid drive still under 100,000 mi warranty. Silver metallic exterior paint.
  • bobadbobad Posts: 1,587
    I'm not at all surprised.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,775
    It's got a whole 6000 miles before the warranty expires.

    So much for the perfect battery systems on hybrids.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Hey, I don't think anyone ever said "hybrid battery systems are perfect."

    Nothing is perfect.

    What the issue has been is that the battery naysayers (who will be proven wrong as surely as the sky is blue) are saying, basically, that NO hybrid will go it's whole life without a costly battery replacement.

    And that statement is patently untrue.

    There is a gent in Canada who has a 254,000 mile Prius on the original battery, and has averaged 50 MPG the whole time.

    There are numerous hybrid cars on greenhybrid with more than 120,000 miles on the original battery.

    There are 50,000 or more hybrids in Japan, some as old as almost 10 years now, and we have heard nothing of battery failures from that country. (and with the www, we would know if that was happening)

    All this battery crying is being done by those people who for some UNEXPLAINABLE reason do not like hybrids, or are trying to dissuade the movement toward them.

    I have a friend who has leased an EV-1, owned an Insight, a Civic Hybrid, and two Priuses, and he has had ZERO problems with any of them, other than his last Prius had an air bag sensor that kept going bad. Nothing ever battery related at all.

    One member at another forum had a 68,000 mile HCH and had the battery tested at 96 percent of original capacity. Even if it loses 5 percent for every 50,000 miles to follow, which is an unlikely high number, he will still have 86 percent capacity by 168,000 miles. So he loses a couple of MPG per tank - it's still more than the competitive technology can do.

    What will turn out in the wash is that sure, there will be a few failed batteries. Just like in other cars which have failed trannies, failed this and failed that.

    But the bottom line is that the longterm benefits of owning a hybrid FAR outweigh the supposed battery risk, for everyone except the MOST skeptic and cynical people, and those are the ones who are saying batteries are going to fail left and right.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,775
    >Nothing is perfect.

    Right. Rest is anecdotal... sorry 'bout that. I realize some are rabid believers whether they think they're being green (they're not when all resources are considered), being economical (CR blew whistle on that), or just like the brand of car they're buying.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    As far as economy:

    Some hybrids pay for themselves over time

    As far as "green", well the only people who have shown hybrids to be "ungreen" was the infamous "dud-to-dud" study where they compared a 300,000 mile Hummer to a 100,000 mile Prius.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Note the phraseology.

    HV battery replaced at 88,000 miles.

    Well in CA it's under warranty up to 150,000 miles so something occurred within warranty - cause unknown - to make this happen.

    The ad poster didn't say the cost was $4000 he writes the 'value' is $4000. Unless he damaged the battery himself then he has no cost at all in the matter. His own estimate is that the value was $4000.

    There is no way of knowing what happened.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    But you know of course, and are ignoring, the fact that CR recanted it's position as regards to the Prius and HCH.

    Minor detail
  • Larsb,

    I think you have missed the point n
    entirely when you say; "that NO hybrid will go it's whole life without a costly battery replacement.

    And that statement is patently untrue. "

    You are talking in absolute terms, not real terms. As stated you are saying the at least one hybrid will go its whole life without a battery replacement. And yest that is proabably true.

    The statements made earlier ware also abosolutes that the "battery will last the life of the car", "Toyota has not repalcened any batteries" We all know there will be exceptions and that to make any aboslute statement is absurd.

    Some batterys have and will fail. Some cars will never have a battery problem , if fact you have provided some examples.

    But what will happen to tha majority of users within one standard deviation? within two standard deviations ?

    There has not been proven as far as i can see any long term benefit of a a hybrid. You pay a premium of $3-5K up front and even with the mileage savings it takes a minimum of 3 years just to break even. In the menatime, in order to achieve the 3year range you have to change your driving habbits and drive like a grandma or it takes 5 years to breakeven. Now it you compare that cost with TCO of a true econiomy car, such as a Chevrolet Aveo or an Kia Rio, you will never break even. And if TCO is a person's main objective, then they can forgo some luxury features and save a lot of money. If batteries do fail and statistically some have and some will it skews the hybrid cost even higher.

    LOL battery understanding and FUD is high. Once failure starts it is exponenetial not linear. And the understanding and definition of what constitues a failure is a legal nightmare or dream if you are a lawyer. Howe much does a battery have to fail before it is repalced under warrnaty. read the tails of woe of the Honda Insight owners whose battery has become useless, but not enough to be replaced under warranty.


  • bobadbobad Posts: 1,587
    There is a gent in Canada who has a 254,000 mile Prius on the original battery, and has averaged 50 MPG the whole time.

    Well, if you keep talking in terms of mileage, I will keep being a naysayer.

    How old is your gent's battery? You can run up 250K miles in only 4-5 years. If the battery is 8 or 10 years old, then I'm impressed.

    Remember, miles have very little to do with battery life.
    Batteries have no moving parts, and do not wear like tires or engines. They work on a chemical process that starts degrading the moment they are manufactured. High operating temperatures on hot roads and under the hood accelerate the degradation process.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,379
    But the bottom line is that the longterm benefits of owning a hybrid FAR outweigh the supposed battery risk

    There are no long term examples of hybrid cars in the USA. So your statement is without any merit. When the 2004 Prius is still going strong in 2014 and beyond you will have something to go on. Until then it is all speculation.

    If the average life of a vehicle in the USA is 8.5 years. We don't even have any hybrids that have reached the average life expectancy.

    The only reason that ad caught my eye was the replacement battery. The statement has been made many times that there is NO record of a Prius high voltage battery going bad.

    I have emailed the fellow selling the Prius, asking for particulars and will pass the information along when he responds.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    gary said - "The statement has been made many times that there is NO record of a Prius high voltage battery going bad. "

    I'd like to see who said that. MY contention has been that no owners are paying for them - YET. And the failures have been very very very tiny in comparison to the total numbers sold.

    And those batteries are MODULAR, meaning they can be replaced in part and do not have to be replaced entirely just because some of the modules have stopped holding a charge or whatever the problem was.

    We know for a fact that up until just a couple of years ago Toyota nor Honda had replaced a single ENTIRE failed battery.

    Let do a hypothetical: Even if they have replaced 50 batteries, a huge number which we know is too high, how many hybrid cars/trucks/vans/buses are on the road in the world? 800,000 by now, all manufacturers combined?

    50 out of 800,000 is a failure rate of 0.0000625.

    Name me another expensive automotive technology which fails less than that........

    And your Prius 8.5 years example - we know there are Priuses in Japan which are that old. No reports of massive failures from the island of the Nipponese. :shades:
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,775
    >Even if they have replaced 50 batteries, a huge number which we know is too high,

    How do you 'know' that's too high? Do you have data?

    My thinking is the PR is so tightly controlled, the public has no idea of how many have been replaced--especially since "that no owners are paying for them" that means it's worth it to the companies pushing for the battey-powered cars to pay the cost, at least for now.

    It's only when ads like the one noted on this discussion give away taht replacements have been made that the public has any idea.

    You may recall that Toyota made a public apology in Japan for not publicizing and recalling vehicles due to a steering defect--they hid it.

    >No reports of massive failures

    You own words infer there have been 'minor' failures--just not "massive" failures.
This discussion has been closed.
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