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The Great Hybrid Battery Debate

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  • kernickkernick Posts: 4,072
    Sorry Jon. I see nothing insulting about YOU, ME, or THEY. What curse or derogatory words are they? Certainly not banned by the FCC. ;) I think it keeps it pretty clear what statements are from whom. I've been posting like this for years, and it seems to work pretty well. No personal offense, but I will continue with my "style".
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    You don't think that Toyota is risking a lot with Hybrids?

    Actually no I dont think they are putting themselves, the market or anyone at risk financially. Hey I plunked down $22K based on the fact that over the last 15 years and nearly 700,000 miles none of my/our Toyotas has needed anything major ( strutcaps on one Camry and an water pump on another under warranty ). Having been involved on a daily basis with them since 2001 I would have heard from someone who was having major problems. I've sold nearly 100 of them. If there was anything going on out there the customers always want to come back to the origin ( me ) of the problem to let the sales person know.

    Nothing.. nada. Seriously. In this market the buyers are doctors, NASA engineers (4), Navy nukes, and a wide variety of very very opinionated people. Nothing. Several have 're-upped'.

    But even if there is an upper limit I'm comfortable with it being in the 200K to 300K range which is what I'm looking for out of the Prius. It's what I drove all my other Toyota's. They have won the right in my experience to tell me it's so and I'll believe them.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    But even if there is an upper limit I'm comfortable with it being in the 200K to 300K range

    That is a lot of miles. I would be happy getting that out of any car. The most miles I ever put on a vehicle was a Dodge van. It was 10 years old with 107k when I had the engine and transmission overhauled. I sold it 2 months later for exactly what I spent on the overhaul. It is the 10 years I am most concerned about. I may never keep a car that long again. It would be nice to know that it would last that long with no major problems. I will be skeptical until I see the Prius without battery problems at 10 years.
  • According to various internet parts sites, the MSRP for the Hybrid battery in a 2005 Prius (which is what I own) is $2995. The discount price from these places are anywhere from $2200 to $2500.

    Compare that to the MSRP of $3200 for a new automatic transmission for a 2005 Camry. Or $2800 for an 2005 Avalon automatic transmission.

    Obviously labor to install the new battery (or a new transmission) is something to be considered. But it's apparent to me that the replacement cost of the hybrid battery is not nearly as expensive as some have stated.

    I browsed the following 2 sites to get prices

    www.toyotapartsales.com
    and
    www.1sttoyotaparts.com

    Tiny URLS pointing to the exact pages:
    http://tinyurl.com/9nsq5
    http://tinyurl.com/9gj2d
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    Good reference. Notice the Prius transaxle is $3700 and the exhaust pipe $1200. Sounds like the battery may be the least of a Prius owners worries. We know several owners have had to pay $2000 or more for a new Catalytic Convertor. I think that is the $1200 exhaust pipe listed.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    Then we have the battery pack, that heavy lump of nickel-metal hydride juice boxes that presumably improve fuel efficiency (but not that much, according to our road tests). Although the warranties are for eight years or 100,000 miles, battery replacement will cost $5300 for the Toyota and Lexus hybrids, and the Ford Escape replacements run a whopping $7200.

    Moreover, the industry types aren't talking about total battery life. Will they actually last 100,000 miles? How will this affect resale value? Will the systems stay at full efficiency, or will they slowly drain power as they age or operate under heavy use? These are questions that remain to be answered, understanding that storage batteries, be they dry cells in your flashlight or exotic Ni-MHs, all have finite lives and store less power with age.

    This brings up an undiscussed issue: At some point, all these hybrid batteries will die and have to be disposed of somewhere, somehow. These are hardly biodegradable items like spoiled vegetables. They are in fact self-contained toxic waste dumps. How and where millions of these poisonous boxes will be deposited in the new hybrid nirvana has yet to be considered, much less resolved.

    And speaking of the environmental component (the glamour issue centered on the brave new world of hybrids), a number of EMT and fire crews have announced that they will refuse to rescue victims trapped in such vehicles, openly fearing electrocution or fatal acid burns.

    As with the now-defunct electric-car miracle, where it was quickly realized that the national power grid could not energize millions of vehicles without massive expansion of horrors—nuclear generation—the dark side of the hybrid miracle is now beginning to surface.


    Hybrids??
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    I'm pretty sure all these items have already been addressed in these forums.

    Toyota says it will recycle the batteries, though I haven't seen any details.

    The EMT scare was temporary; the high voltage cables are brightly colored and run under the floor, hardly a likely location for "jaws of life" cutters to hit.

    The first issue, battery life, is the big question. Toyota maintains that, because they keep the batteries between 20 and 80% charge, the batteries will last "the life of the car". Not too sure myself.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Posts: 158
    "Then we have the battery pack, that heavy lump of nickel-metal hydride juice boxes that presumably improve fuel efficiency."

    Hi Gagrice,
    Brock Yates is jumping the gun on non recycling of NiMH batteries, there is probably not enough business to warrant a major recycling plant for them yet. In the meantime I think legislation is needed first to persuade merchandisers to collect used Li-ion and alkaline cells at point of sale like they do in Scandinavia. Established technologies such as lead-acid batteries have in lead the highest recovery rate of any metal, about 80%.(Cominco Ltd).

    I am more concerned that battery warranties don't spell out what minimum performance is required to get replacement. I hope that there will be an aftermarket of partially aged batteries to replace packs with a dried out or shorted cell. No-one wants to put $3000+ into a 10 year old vehicle just to take it another five or six more years. I too dislike the notion that some unsuspecting person would suddenly find themself owning a vehicle with a large negative value.
    T2
  • devsiennadevsienna Posts: 69
    I don't think it's unreasonable to spend a few grand on a 10-year-old car to give it another 5 or 6 years of life. Of course, this assumes that that is the only major component that will have to be replaced to give it that extension on life. In the case of my '96 RAV4 and my wife's '98 Grand Caravan, I felt it was worth it to spend that kind of money on each car in order to get more life out of them. Even if I only got another year or two out of them, that was still way cheaper on a month-to-month basis than payments on 2 new cars.

    As with any car, the age/milleage of the car needs to be taken into account along with those items that typically need to replaced at that age/milleage. And with the case of hybrids, we don't know yet what components will need replacement. I'm pretty confident that the hybrid components will last the length of time that I own the car. And Toyota seems to think so too, based on the length of the warranty for those components. Given that I had my RAV4 for 8.5 years and 147K miles, I'll easily be covered here in California (where the warranty is 10 years/150K miles).

    I wonder if these same kinds of concerns came up when new technology like disc brakes, fuel injection, and automatic transmissions started showing up on cars.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    wonder if these same kinds of concerns came up when new technology like disc brakes, fuel injection, and automatic transmissions started showing up on cars.

    Sure they did. And the early adopters were many times rewarded with big repair bills when the warranty was up. In the case of the mandatory emissions warranty on the hybrids you can feel a little safer. It would be nice to know that the HSD or IMA portion is covered under that additional warranty. There is about 35% more parts to break in a hybrid than a non-hybrid car. Not all of it is covered under that mandate.
  • midnightcowboymidnightcowboy Posts: 1,978
    ARG! The comes a time to replace, Like when my refrigerator was 15 years old and the compressor went out. I asked if I should spned $500 to replace the compressor and the guy said you can replace it and you will still have a 15 year old refrigerator.

    Ther have been significant improvements in features, technology and safety in the last 8-10 years. And, even carefully maintained, 8-10 years driving on a car takes its toll and begins transforming it into a junker no matter how much TLC is applied.

    The jury is still out on Hbrid components especaily the traction battery. There are already some reports that the batterys haven't delicne enough to warrant free replacement, yet the vehicle owner is beginning to suffer decreased performance and decreased battary charge time.

    But again to each his own, we need some pioneers to find out how long it takaes for a hybrid to become a junker ?

    Cheers,

    MidCow ( Could not make the Hybrid Sacrifice at this time!)
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Posts: 158
    "Given that I had my RAV4 for 8.5 years and 147K miles, I'll easily be covered here in California (where the warranty is 10 years/150K miles). In the case of my '96 RAV4..."

    I hate to break the news here, but wouldn't your '96 already be outside of such a warranty ? :=) But go on.

    "I don't think it's unreasonable to spend a few grand on a 10-year-old car. Even if I only got another year or two out of them, that was still way cheaper on a month-to-month basis than payments on a new car."

    Look Devsienna, and please don't take this personally, but if I was presented with the choice of replacing a $3000+ battery or investing in a similar 10 year old beater (which comes with a good battery) to drive around for a couple of more years then I would have to decide whether I should ever consider myself to be a genuine candidate for buying a new car in the first place. A pending $3000+ spendout on such an age'd vehicle would be my cue to place such money into a new vehicle and start the cycle again. My Corolla went almost 14 yrs and I unloaded rather than invest in replacement of a new muffler that in so doing could compromise an already corroded fuel line.
    T2
  • devsiennadevsienna Posts: 69
    "Given that I had my RAV4 for 8.5 years and 147K miles, I'll easily be covered here in California (where the warranty is 10 years/150K miles). In the case of my '96 RAV4..."

    I hate to break the news here, but wouldn't your '96 already be outside of such a warranty ? :=) But go on.


    Heh. Good point. Good thing I sold the RAV4 last year (got 4 grand for it, too).

    "I don't think it's unreasonable to spend a few grand on a 10-year-old car. Even if I only got another year or two out of them, that was still way cheaper on a month-to-month basis than payments on a new car."

    Look Devsienna, and please don't take this personally, but if I was presented with the choice of replacing a $3000+ battery or investing in a similar 10 year old beater (which comes with a good battery) to drive around for a couple of more years then I would have to decide whether I should ever consider myself to be a genuine candidate for buying a new car in the first place. A pending $3000+ spendout on such an age'd vehicle would be my cue to place such money into a new vehicle and start the cycle again. My Corolla went almost 14 yrs and I unloaded rather than invest in replacement of a new muffler that in so doing could compromise an already corroded fuel line.


    I don't take it personally, and yes, your points are very valid. And more than likely what I'd do, too. But it would partially be determined by how "invested" I was emotionally with the car. And how compromised the other components might be in the car. In the case of the RAV4 and the Grand Caravan, the cars were only about 5 or 6 years old at the time when I plunked the money into them, so they had plenty of life left in them at the time. And at the time, replacing either of them wasn't doable. So we extended their life a little bit more until we could replace them.

    I highly doubt that the battery will be 3 grand by the time it actually needs replacing. A lot can happen in the next 7 or 8 years before I have to cross that bridge. Battery technology can improve a lot. The car could get totalled. I could win the lottery and buy a Hummer. :-)

    A 3 grand repair bill on a 9 to 10 year old car is gonna make you think twice about keeping the car, whether it's a conventional car, hybrid, or a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
  • devsiennadevsienna Posts: 69
    The jury is still out on Hbrid components especaily the traction battery. There are already some reports that the batterys haven't delicne enough to warrant free replacement, yet the vehicle owner is beginning to suffer decreased performance and decreased battary charge time.

    I've seen some of those same anecdotal reports, too. As I recall, they're mostly Honda Insights. The one report I saw about a Toyota Prius indicated that the battery-pack was replaced without question and presumambly sent back to Toyota for a full tear-down and analysis of the failure.

    But again to each his own, we need some pioneers to find out how long it takaes for a hybrid to become a junker ?

    I'm willing to be a pioneer in this regard. I believe in the company that produced my Prius and I believe in the generous warranty they are providing to gurantee that the hybrid components will last the life of the car or at least as long as I own the car, which will probably be the same amount of time.

    If everybody followed the advice of "Don't buy a new model the first year it comes out" or "Wait until other people have bought the car and seen how good it's reliability is" or "The new technology is unproven and you shouldn't buy it" then a lot of advances in cars and technology never would've made it out of infancy and we'd still be driving manual shift cars with carburetors and drum brakes and no emission controls to speak of.

    Car makers have gotten a lot better at perfecting the technology before it's released to the public, and they're willing to back it up with better warranties on that new technology. Taking that leap of faith is a lot easier to do these days. Is it perfect? No. Will there be problems? Of course. But I think things are in place to mitigate the problems. Certainly better than they were 30 or 35 years ago when advancements like the automatic transmission, disc brakes and fuel injection came out.
  • I just had my 60K maintenance done on my 2004 Civic Hybrid last month and asked the dealer to check battery capacity.
    The car got a clean bill of health with at least 95% capacity left.
    I've never not yet had the IMA do a battery recalibration, but it is a concern as I hope to take my car over 300K miles.

    At 60K miles the car runs, drives and performs as if new.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    This guy ignored some obvious warnings. Still waiting for his battery to arrive from Japan. Warranty replacement.

    http://www.evworld.com/blogs/index.cfm?page=blogentry&authorid=12&blogid=226&arc- hive=0
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,684
    A month and a half is a long time when they have daily flights from Japan.

    Toyota and Honda are both gambling that the hybrid batteries will last as long as the government has forced them into guaranteeing it. I will repeat myself. A battery starts decaying the minute it is charged and starts to discharge. It is a calculated risk on how long a given battery will last. I have laptop batteries that are 5 years old and still carry a reasonable charge. I have one Dell battery that barely lasted one year. Plus all batteries are not created equal. You can buy some real cheap replacement batteries that are near worthless. Most not warranted past 90 days. It will be interesting to find out how well these hybrid batteries hold up over 6-7-8-9-10 years. I don't think so good. I believe Toyota is going to have some massive replacement costs in states that require 10 years on the warranty.
  • devsiennadevsienna Posts: 69
    It's a little unrealistic and unfair to compare a laptop battery to that of the battery in the Prius. While the basic elements might be the same: one or more cells in series/parallel to create the appropiate amount of voltage and amperage available), the way the batteries are used/managed in Toyota's hybrid cars are completely different.

    What tends to kill most rechargeable batteries these days is deep-discharge/full-charge cycles. Toyota's battery management system is setup to avoid that by keeping the battery in a state of charge that is between 40% and 80% of the total capacity of the battery pack. Given the fact that there are Prius' in Japan that are over 8 years old, I think Toyota already has a good idea of how long the battery packs will last in the cars.
  • eaaeaa Posts: 30
    NiMH batteries can last 10 or more years. They are carefully used and not run low on charge so they last very well. Lithium batteries are even better.
    I've read where some Prius MiMH battery packs have been tested for over 300,000 miles. These are not the 100 year old lead acid technology used in battery starters on internal combustion vehicles. It's a new world, welcome to the 21st century.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 17,729
    >last 10 or more years

    Sooooo, you're saying my cell phone batteries and laptop batteries are a whole new world. They're not your father's lead acid batteries any more.

    We'll see.

    This message has been approved.

This discussion has been closed.