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The Great Hybrid Battery Debate



  • 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: 31,080
    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: 31,080
    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: 31,080
    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: 31,080
    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.

    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: 31,080
    From me a cabby with a Prius gets 25 bucks not a penny more. They can take or leave it.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,716
    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

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  • 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: 31,080
    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: 31,080
    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: 31,080
    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.

    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.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    What you may have been reading over the past several years is a vocal demand,. from a relatively small driving segment, for a plugin version. In fact Toyota has been relatively cool if not down on the whole subject. Dave Hermance who was killed several years ago was Toyota USA's top hybrid guy. He wasn't in favor of them at all.

    I believe that there are two reasons.
    1) The technology is not there yet, whether Li-ion or NiMH. One is unproven and the other is somewhat limited in capability.
    2) How big is the market really for this technology and who will be the buyers?

    Toyota is at least as good a Marketing company as it is an auto-building company. I believe that they are studying how to market this. Consider:...
    Nobody living in a city who parks on the street will get any benefit from PHEVs. These owners won't be able to run a wire from two blocks down the street to their building and up 47 floors.
    If you are taking a long trip, say from CA to FL then only the first few miles have any benefit the rest are all on the 'base' technology.
    There is no infrastructure - yet - to recharge except at your home.
    How much extra will a 'double battery' or new Li-ion pack add to the current price of say a Prius?
    How much will this relatively small segment of buyers be willing to pay for the technology upgrade?
    Can the Li-ions be warranted for 10 yrs / 150,000 mi? Who knows.

    Lots of marketing decisions not to mention the technical hurdles to overcome.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Nobody living in a city who parks on the street will get any benefit from PHEVs. These owners won't be able to run a wire from two blocks down the street to their building and up 47 floors.
    If you are taking a long trip, say from CA to FL then only the first few miles have any benefit the rest are all on the 'base' technology.

    I think you've pretty much covered the typical motorist and his typical drive with those two examples.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,080
    What you may have been reading over the past several years is a vocal demand,. from a relatively small driving segment, for a plugin version. In fact Toyota has been relatively cool if not down on the whole subject.

    I was going by all the hype from Toyota of a 100 MPG Prius. Maybe it is not a PHEV. It will be interesting to see them get more than double the current mileage without charging them up first. This was projected by Toyota for 2009 MY back in 2006. That means they should be in showrooms in the next few months. see article:

    I thought people living in apartments in the city were supposed to ride the bus.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Actually Toyota hasn't said a single word about anything on the new Prius except that it wouldn't have Li-ion batteries when the next model comes out. Typically Toyota.

    That link from Edmunds was a restatement of an off the wall article by some writer in Europe with no connection to Toyota at all.

    All the hype you read was supposition by various 'experts' and pundits, primarily in Europe, on what the next one might be. Officially it's not even due out this year. Literally we don't have a single word on it.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,080
    I know our hybrid friend Larsb has touted the 100 MPG Prius that was shown in Europe over and over again for a couple years. I personally thought it was some kind of trick to fool the EU into thinking a Prius was competition for a diesel car. Which we all know is not the case. It is pretty much all that is given to the US buyer. As we get the dregs of the Automotive industry here.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,024
    A reporter is hoping to talk with hybrid owners who have had to replace the hybrid's battery. Please respond to before Friday, May 16, 2008 with your daytime contact information and a few words about your experience.
    Jeannine Fallon
    Corporate Communications


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  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    This has a lot of good info:

    Hybrid Battery

    Despite eBay's booming battery bazaar, Toyota, Honda and Ford all say hybrid battery failures are extremely rare. Out of more than 100,000 Honda hybrids on the road, the automaker says fewer than 200 have had a battery fail after the warranty expired. Honda, like Toyota and Ford, covers the cost of battery replacement for the first 100,000 miles in most states and 150,000 miles in California and a few other states with tough green car laws.

    Toyota says its out-of-warranty battery replacement rate is 0.003 percent on the second generation Prius that debuted in the 2004 model year. That equals about one out of 40,000 Priuses sold, says Toyota spokesman John Hanson. That's a vast improvement over the first generation Prius, which had about 1 percent of the batteries fail after the warranty expired. Hanson says today's Prius batteries are designed to last "the life of the car," which Toyota defines as 180,000 miles. (Toyota and Panasonic announced Friday that they will build a new $200 million factory to produce more hybrid batteries to meet the automaker's goal of selling 1 million gas-electric cars a year.)

    For those unlucky few who have to replace their own batteries, the cost is coming down. On June 1 Honda is slashing the cost of its batteries from $3,400 (excluding installation) to as low as $1,968 on an Insight or as high as $2,440 on an Accord hybrid. Toyota also plans to substantially cut battery prices, which now stand at $3,000 (excluding installation), down from $5,500 on the original Prius. Both automakers attribute the price cuts to improved technology and lower production costs. But some analysts think Toyota and Honda are really trying to get ahead of consumer concerns about battery replacement. "PR is a very important factor in the hybrid market," says J.D. Power's Omotoso. "Honda and Toyota have the oldest hybrids on the road. And when a hybrid gets to be that old, you have to factor battery replacement costs into your purchase decision."
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,080
    What do you think the dealer will charge for installation if you are the one in a hundred that needs a new $5500 battery? I would guess about $1000 to install. Making the car worthless when the battery dies.

    Used Prius for sale, BYOB (bring your own battery) :shades:

    It is good that Toyota and Honda are fessing up to the dead batteries after warranty. I would still like to know how many they have replaced while under warranty.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Batteries don't die, they degrade. A battery that can only hold 79% of its charge is only worth slightly less than a battery that can hold 80% of its charge. Regardless, a used Prius with no battery is still not worthless. It's got to still have the utility of a used Corolla.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    everytime this issue comes up the single most important question of all is NEVER asked....

    "What's ANY car worth that has 180K - 225K miles on the ticker?"

    I know what the answer is, I see it every week. It's worth less than $300. No moron is going to put a $2000 or $3000 or $4000 battery or a tranny or any other major repair like that into a vehicle that's worth only $300.

    This discussion always deteriorates into the absurd. If the hybrid battery only goes 327,459 miles....How many angels can fit on the head of a pin? The batteries don't break down except in the nightmares of the 'flat worlders'. The rest of us just drive them til we want to get rid of the vehicle. That's reality.
This discussion has been closed.