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The Great Hybrid Battery Debate

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Comments

  • Er, yes, but no not really.

    NiMH Battery chemistry is weird. If you exceed 90%, or drop below 60%, you stress the battery and cause damage. That's why pure electric cars have to replace every 100,000 miles... they damage their battery from overcharging/emptying.

    .

    The hybrids only use the "sweet spot" between 60-90% in order to avoid battery damage. They are only using 1/3rd of the battery, but that extends its life to >250,000 miles, and eliminates replacement cost.

    Plus like I said, hybrids barely use the battery. 10 seconds to boost 0 to 60, 1 second boost to climb a small hill, 10 seconds to slow down. The amount of time my Insight uses its battery is <1% of the total trip.

    Troy
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    quote-"If you exceed 90%, or drop below 60%, you stress the battery and cause damage."-end quote

    If that is true, then my 2004 HCH is damaging it's battery every day. I drive city miles only (very few exceptions in the first 4 months) and my battery charge indicator is ALWAYS hovering between 5% and usually around 20% unless I get on a long road with no red lights and set the cruise for a while, then I can get it up above 75%.
  • The charge indicator is calibrated like this:
    _ 90%
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    - 60%
    So you're only seeing the top 1/3rd of the battery. It's not really empty.

    .

    However, you are correct that city driving will stress the battery. Also the engine. And the oil. And the transmission fluid. And the exhaust/catalytic converter. City driving is bad all around.

    I recall my first car completely rusted out after only one year. It never got hot enough to burn off the moisture! After learning that expensive lesson, I would never shift above 3rd to ensure my engine got nice-and-hot every day & burned off excess water/pollutants from the oil/exhaust.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    quote gagrice-"the circa 1997 Japanese Priuses would be all over the news for a rash of battery replacements. There may be a lot of bad batteries. I cannot read Japanese so would not know."-end quote

    Gary, think about it for a second: In today's world, news gets around. The Japanese press would have picked up on any rash of failures since Toyota is one of the world's largest companies - that would NOT have slipped under the radar.

    On top of that, with Blogs and how much focus people have placed on the Hybrid cars, ANYTHING like a story of that magnitude WOULD have come to our attention by now.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    I've said it before, I would not be too concerned about the battery with the CA 10 year, 150k mile warranty. I think the key is to get a hybrid that is AT-PZEV. Then CA will force the manufacturer to maintain that emissions level for that 10 yr. 150k mile period. That should cover the whole drivetrain.
  • UPDATE:
    I did some research. Toyota's charge indicator is calibrated like below, and only uses 30% of the battery's range:
    _ 70%
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    - 40%

    Honda uses 60% of the battery & its charge indicator is calibrated:
    _ 80%
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    - 20%

    Notice that both avoid under-or-over-charging the battery, to avoid damage, and extend battery life = engine life. No replacement needed.

    Troy
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    Automakers hope that the growing popularity of hybrids will entice other companies to build the battery packs, increasing competition and ultimately reducing the price, which now can run as high as $5,000

    If they cannot keep up now with the small production. What is the outlook for the time when your hybrid needs a new battery? Will you have a 2 month wait till they get a spare? Does Toyota & Honda USA have a supply of spare batteries in stock?

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2004-11-21-hybrid-batteries_x- - .htm
  • bjrichbjrich Posts: 125
    dear gagrice;
    I have been told that you may replace the battery a small section at a time, for about $150.00, if and when the battery fails///told to me by a Toyota manager. I found no reference in the USA article about $5000.00 for a battery, or any shortage...Toyota has been adding production an a high rate which was not anticipated and thus caused the battery pack backup....All the conjecture really is just that;;;conecture, and what if's....
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    I found no reference in the USA article about $5000.00 for a battery,

    read the 8th paragraph. The whole article is about battery shortfalls. My experience with batteries tell me you may be able to exchange one cell at a time. However they usually go bad at about the same time, so you may be spending a lot of time replacing one cell every few weeks.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    more than 100,000 hybrids sold thus far by Toyota, they were saying a few months ago that they had NEVER replaced an entire batterry pack system.

    That ZERO may have since changed, but it's not happening in massive numbers you can be sure, or it would be all over these forums.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    I wonder how big of a job it will be to replace a cell. Have you seen one of the packs open? According to that article the Civic HCH uses the Panasonic batteries along with the Prius and Insight. I doubt they are drop in units. They may have spade clips to interconnect the cells. Then a change would be fairly easy. You would have to be able to test each cell to determine which was not holding a charge.

    You are right that we have not seen people complaining about battery failures. If they are like lead acid batteries they go bad about a month after the warranty date. :=)
  • YOU DON'T NEED TO REPLACE THE BATTERY.

    Sorry to shout, but it seems to be the only way to get people's attention. The battery in a hybrid only uses ~30% of the capacity, so as to avoid causing internal damage, and therefore extend battery life = engine life.

    You won't have a problem replacing the battery, because you won't need to.

    Troy
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    IF a pack has to be replaced it will be about the time that gary is pushing up daisies. Get over it already! The battery is a NON issue.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,793
    "Sorry to shout, but it seems to be the only way to get people's attention. The battery in a hybrid only uses ~30% of the capacity, so as to avoid causing internal damage, and therefore extend battery life = engine life.

    You won't have a problem replacing the battery, because you won't need to."

    Hmmm, have any studies to support that statement? Specifically, ones that use the batteries in the same manner as the Hybrids? Just because they aren't drained like camera batteries doesn't mean they won't fail eventually, which is what you are saying.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    I guess he supports his statement by what has been shown in the field to date. I myself have not heard of any failures. I guess it's just a waiting game now.
  • In the lab - Toyota tested Prius to 200,000 miles with no degradation of the battery.

    In the field - Insights/Priuses exist with over 200,000 miles (see ebay for some examples).

    Expert opinion - I'm an electrical engineer. I've read all the research I could find, and it shows that a battery will last indefinitely, as long as it's held within 30-70% of capacity. This cycle avoids the under-and-overcharging that kills batteries & extends life indefinitely.

    .

    Now I admit that if you abuse your car (example: drag racing) it will kill the battery. But such abuse will also kill the engine. And the transmission. And the suspension.

    I don't think anyone here would abuse their car in that fashion. For us, the battery/engine/et cetera will last well past 200,000 miles.

    In fact, I expect the battery will last longer than the engine will.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,793
    I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, but as to your examples:

    "In the lab - Toyota tested Prius to 200,000 miles with no degradation of the battery."

    I'd like to see some independent studies, rather than from the manufacturor.

    "In the field - Insights/Priuses exist with over 200,000 miles (see ebay for some examples)."


    We do not know the state of the batteries in the Ebay Priuses.

    Hopefully, your independent analysis will prove true for the Hybrid implementation.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    In the field - Insights/Priuses exist with over 200,000 miles (see ebay for some examples).

    I have tracked Prius and Jetta TDIs on My Ebay for the last 6 months. The only Prius I have seen offered with 100k plus miles is a 2002 that they have a $4250 high bid on. Of the 60 or so used Prius I have tracked only one sold. The rest were "reserve not met" That one was a 2002 that they sold for $11,994. Only a fool would buy one for blue book with a 100k miles and no warranty. There have been a few that were "salvage title" sales in the $6k to $10k range. I have only read about one cab in Vancouver BC that had over 100k miles. Toyota bought it back. I would like to see some proof of the battery longevity of 200k miles. As long as you dump your Prius while it still has warranty I think you are safe.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    In the field - Insights/Priuses exist with over 200,000 miles (see ebay for some examples).

    I think you meant to say check out the 3 Jetta TDIs with over 200k miles. A 1999 with 238k miles is up to $4511. A 1992 Jetta TDI with 259K miles at $1585. I doubt you ever see a hybrid with 259k miles still running good. If the batteries don't crap out all the other wizardry will die and not be worth the price to fix it. At this point the battery debate is hypothetical becasue NO ONE has driven a hybrid over 200K miles. At least not that has gotten into our hybrid forum. I could be wrong and will admit it when the evidence is exposed.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    That taxi operator in Vancouver went "almost 200,000 miles" according to this article. If he had battery problems, he never told anyone about it.

    "That Yellow Taxi May Be Turning Green"

    By MATTHEW L. WALD (NYT) 522 words
    HYBRID cars' first buyers were environmentalists willing to pay extra for a vehicle that was cleaner and more efficient. The next market may be taxicabs.
    Andrew Grant, a taxi owner-operator in Vancouver, British Columbia, bought a 2001 Toyota Prius in the fall of 2000, and drove it nearly 200,000 miles before he replaced it with a 2004 model. ''The car actually pays for itself,'' he said."

    So to say that there are "no" Priuses out there with that many miles is conjecture at most.

    And remember: there are 1997 model year Priuses in Japan, so those guys could EASILY be exceeding 200K miles if used heavily.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    And remember: there are 1997 model year Priuses in Japan, so those guys could EASILY be exceeding 200K miles if used heavily.

    That is conjecture. Cars in Japan usually rust away before the engine dies. That is why we get all those used engines from Japan.

    Your example of the Taxi in Vancouver has been covered many times. His is a good example of a good use for the Prius. I have never read anything of any trouble he had, so assume it was a good car. I don't think miles will be the downfall of the battery. I think it will be years of inactivity. We already have cases where people left the car sitting for a few weeks and the battery discharged and was ruined. We have a case where one sat at a dealer for too long and when it was sold they had problems and had to return it. I agree with those that claim IF you keep the battery in a middle range of charge. Not overcharged or run down it will last a very long time. I am not sure that will happen over a 10-15 year period.

    One final note. A 2002 Prius is currently on eBay with 100k miles. It is currently at $6350. It ends on Dec. 1st. I'll keep you posted as to the final price. I bet it does not reach half of the blue book value because of the mileage.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    "And remember: there are 1997 model year Priuses in Japan, so those guys could EASILY be exceeding 200K miles if used heavily.That is conjecture."

    Yes, but it is EDUCATED CONJECTURE rather than a broad generalization. Educated because by doing the math, 7 years since 1997, 28K per year = 200K.

    "One final note. A 2002 Prius is currently on eBay with 100k miles. It is currently at $6350. It ends on Dec. 1st. I'll keep you posted as to the final price. I bet it does not reach half of the blue book value because of the mileage.-"

    Sure, any high mileage 2002 car is going to take a BIG HIT. Nothing AT ALL to do with the fact that it is a Hybrid or that it has a battery. I had a 2002 Avalanche with high miles that took a $5000 hit on trade value JUST because of high miles, and it is NOT a Hybrid. That is completely based on uneducated conjecture to assume that it is because of the battery issue.

    And remember: Ebay is not a good model for selling or buying cars. Look at the Edmunds TMV to get a value based on ACTUAL SALES AT DEALERSHIPS. Ebay car selling is not indicative of real msrket values, usually. You either get a heck of a deal or you pay too much.

    Lastly: TMV for a 2002 Prius with 100K miles is 12K-16K.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    I find it odd that someone who has no interest in buying a Prius does the MOST research on it. Just curious why Gary seems to be so stuck on finding fault with this incredible car.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    Just curious why Gary seems to be so stuck on finding fault with this incredible car.

    Remember I test drove one and liked it back in 2000 when they were selling at $20k. They were also backed by a 100k mile 8 year bumper to bumper warranty. Now you cannot get a straight answer as to what is covered under the mandated CA 150k mile warranty. They are selling for way more than they are worth. There are people on the forum that want to hear the whole story not just the positive aspects of the hybrids.

    Maybe you can tell us, are you happy with your Prius or are you still kicking tires like most of us this forum.

    I don't want to buy a car that is worthless after 2 years and 100k miles. Some here think because a car is on a lot for X amount of dollars that is what it is worth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any car is worth what you can get someone else to pay for it. Does not matter if it is listed on eBay or the Trader. Cars sold in the Trader will never give you the selling price. Last car I bought through the Trader was asking $8k. I gave him $4500 cash and he jumped on it.

    Edmund's says the eBay car should sell between $15k and $18k. This is on a Toyota dealers lot in Washington DC. So if they don't pull a fast one, to save their butts on this one, we should see what the real value is of a 2 year old Prius with a 100k miles. It is at $6600 right now. If you watched car prices as I do you would see that most of the Prius never get close to the reserve. That is what makes this one unique it has no reserve.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary, how much credence do you put on E-Bay motors prices versus Edmund's TMV? I think an E-Bay expert like yourself can realize that what I said is mostly true: E-Bay is not a good model for selling a car and CERTAINLY not a good model for Buying a car. Who in their RIGHT MIND would buy a car without seeing it, touching it, driving it first?

    I think what you said about "a car is worth what you can get someone else to pay for it" is absolutely true. But the fact is that here in the good ole' USA, we have a system called "Blue Book Value" that dictates a car's worth, like it or not, agree with it or not. Smart buyers do not go by prices on a "bad model" like E-Bay. If you want to buy a car unseen, then you are risk taker and deserve to either lose your money or get a good bonus if you find a bargain.

    Here is my main point, pay attention: "Just because you can get one yokel out of 280 million Americans to sell a Prius for $6600 does NOT MAKE THAT PRICE THE NORM."

    And my second major point: Any car, Hybrid or not, with 50K miles on it per year WILL LOSE MASSIVE AMOUNTS of value. That is an incredible, unusual amount of mileage that will cause an avalanche of depreciation.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    Gary, how much credence do you put on E-Bay motors prices versus Edmund's TMV?

    They are both a point of reference. I personally have never bought or bid on a car on eBay. I have friends that buy cars all the time on eBay. It is best to look and drive a car for sure. This particular Prius has my interest because it is on a Toyota dealers lot. Why hasn't he sold it to a local? It is also the first one I have seen for sale with 100k miles. That being the battery warranty for most of the USA, it may be a sale killer. This is a very high mileage car also. 50k miles per year is excessive. I find the book value to be excessive for that amount of miles. How many 2002 Prius have been resold? I think Edmund's TMV is unrealistic. Maybe a 2004 with 100k miles would be worth $13k. Not a 2002 that sold for $20k to start with. I think we agree that 100k miles is near the useful life of many cars. You expect stuff to quit. None of our cars have 100k miles on them and two are 15 years old and the Suburban is going on 7 years old. The only thing I would buy with that kind of mileage would be a classic.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Let's attack this like a lawyer would.

    In light of the IRREFUTABLE fact that high mileage on new cars is a KNOWN resale price KILLER, I present the fact that ANY 2002 vehicle with 100K miles is going to be worth a FRACTION of MSRP, Hybrid or not. Look at ANY of the used car sites, including Edmunds, and find a 2002 with 100K miles and look at the resale value compared to MSRP.

    And in addition, it is a known fact that ANY car dealer will tell you that when a vehicle reaches that mythical "100,000 mile mark" it's resale value will plummet accordingly.

    Your hypothesis that the "battery issue" is resale price killer is based on what evidence, other that your assumption?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,870
    Enough with the ALL CAPS - it really looks hostile, guys. Also, if you're veering off the course of batteries and back to resale values, you know where that conversation belongs.

    kirstie_h
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  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Sorry about that, I often times use all caps to "stress" a word, not to hostile it. I will REALLY try to curtail, but that's my style - see my previous posts.....thanks....
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,969
    Your hypothesis that the "battery issue" is resale price killer is based on what evidence, other that your assumption?

    I based my thinking on the fact that Edmund's says a dealer should get $18k for a 2002 Prius with 100k miles. Yet we have a Toyota dealer with a 2002 Prius that he claims is in excellent condition that is selling on Ebay for less than 1/2 of what the Edmund's TMV says it should sell for. Either the Toyota dealer is lying about the condition. Or no one is interested in a 2 year old Prius with 100k miles on it. Which means that the TMV for that car is way below what Edmund's is claiming it should be. If I was looking to buy a car that had unknown reliability in the form of a battery that may cost $5000 or more to replace. Plus many other very expensive components. Remember one poster had over $15k worth of warranty work on his Prius. I believe it is the unknown that will drive the hybrids resale down until they have a history to back up the hype.

    By contrast there is a 1999 Jetta TDI with 202k miles that is up to $4600 that is close to the Edmund's value for that car.

    If people are not afraid of the battery why hasn't that dealer in DC sold that Prius? I think time will prove they do not hold their value as well as people are trying to prove on this Forum.
This discussion has been closed.