Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

The Great Hybrid Battery Debate



  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    The rest of us just drive them til we want to get rid of the vehicle. That's reality.

    I'm not the one that posted the reality that Toyota and Honda had both SOLD replacement batteries to hybrid customers that were not covered by warranty. That means they felt it was worth the money to go a little further with their hybrid. We have had Insight owners complain of deteriorated batteries that Honda refused to change under warranty. If you are not part of the 1% of the Prius owners that have drawn the bad battery, you are one of the lucky 99%. To you a vehicle is worn out at 150K miles. To me that would never happen. I am close to 95k miles on our 19 year old Lexus. If we had to replace a battery we would be unhappy with Lexus. It is still running good. I doubt any of the hybrids will still have all their original power train including battery after 19 years. Almost 5 years now on the current Prius. The first one was a gimme and part of the R&D.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary, you know the average person does not keep a car 150K miles. We went through that discussion a few months (or years) ago, and I posted stats showing that only around 5% of USA owners try to "drive it until the wheels fall off."

    I don't know of any Honda refusals of warranty battery replacements. If it was under warranty, Honda was LEGALLY REQUIRED to replace it, if replacement was the technical remedy.

    And there is no where near 1% of the Prius owners with a "bad battery." It's no where near 10,000 Priuses with battery problems. That would have been trumpeted from the highest buildings/mountains by all of 'Yota's competitors if it was that frequent.

    And you yourself have mentioned the multiple thousands of dollars you have spent keeping that Lexus of yours running. What would have been the difference if the thousands had been spent on a new battery or on whatever you really did spend it on? Nothing, that's what !! No DIFFERENCE AT ALL!!

    Thanks for bringing out the point that a replacement battery on a hybrid is just another maintenance cost, like replacing the tranny.

    And like others have said - a battery losing charge capability does not DISABLE a Prius - it just means the hybrid drivetrain contributes less to the propulsion, and the car will get worse gas mileage.

    I can't wait until a few more years pass and I get to tell/show you how wrong you have been about hybrids and longevity. Already been 10, almost 11 years now, and we are not hearing about droves of Priuses sitting dead in junkyards, are we?

    NOPE, and we never will.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    Honda was LEGALLY REQUIRED to replace it, if replacement was the technical remedy.

    Well there were two Insight owners at least that posted their Insights were losing ooomph, indicating a deteriorating battery. The Honda dealers in both cases would not replace them because they had not failed to a certain point. Whatever that may be.

    And there is no where near 1% of the Prius owners with a "bad battery."

    You posted that statistic NOT me.

    As far as the cost of maintaining our Lexus in top condition. That was purely a dealer over charging for insignificant repairs in many cases. Before my wife and I were married. When they tried that crap with me I found a great independent shop. I believe total maintenance over the 19 years is about $18k. Several $1000 routine checkups and oil changes. The Lexus dealer she bought the car from does not treat customers fairly. The car's engine and transmission is all original. The only major parts were suspension related.

    I stand with my statement. I do not believe ANY hybrid battery will last 19 years. For those of us that do our part to conserve by keeping a car a long time the hybrids are probably not a good option. That being the reason I prefer diesel. The simpler the better. I have a line on a 20 year old diesel Land Cruiser in Canada. That is legal you know.

    If you want to count the 9 year old Prius. We can bring up multiple problems they have encountered including MANY battery failures.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    Seems there is more to your link.

    Still, hybrids don't hold their value as well as their gasoline-powered siblings, batteries aside. For example, a three-year-old Honda Civic is worth about $12,000, retaining about 60 percent of its original sticker price of $20,000, according to Blair. But a hybrid Honda Civic holds only 58 percent of its original sticker price after three years, giving it a used price of $13,630, down from a new price of $23,500. "The new car buyer is more into bells and whistles, while used car buyers are all about value," says Blair. "If a hybrid is near the end of its warranty, what could creep into the mind of the used car buyer is, 'I still have a doubt about the battery, and it's just one more big thing that could go wrong.'"
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    GM seems to have done a far worse job with their little piddly battery than 'Yota has done:

    GM battery on the leaky side?

    With gasoline at $4 a gallon and the Toyota Prius flying out dealership doors, General Motors' mild hybrid vehicles are stuck in neutral because of battery-pack failures.

    GM had to use 9,000 battery packs to replace leaking ones it recalled, a company spokesman says. GM diverted those batteries from new hybrids for sale this year.

    GM planned to sell about 27,000 mild hybrid vehicles this year, possibly more given the sharp rise in gasoline prices. But insiders say GM will fall far short of that goal because of problems with its Michigan-based battery maker, Cobasys, a joint venture of Chevron Technology Ventures and Energy Conversion Devices.

    GM discovered an internal leak in the nickel-metal hydride batteries that Cobasys made for GM's 2007 model hybrids. The leak caused the hybrid powertrain to shut down. The vehicles could still be driven, but not with the hybrid system.

    The vehicles affected were the 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line and Saturn Aura Green Line hybrids. A GM spokesman says the company recalled about 9,000 vehicles to replace battery packs. That slowed the launch of the 2008 Saturn hybrids and the new Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid.

    Custom-built batteries
    Cobasys' batteries are specifically designed for GM's mild hybrid system. That means GM cannot switch suppliers until it brings out the next generation of mild hybrids in 2010, a source familiar with GM hybrid engineering said.

    GM initiated the recall in late December when it began receiving reports of battery failures. Cobasys halted production for at least a month while it fixed the problem and revalidated the batteries, a GM source familiar with the mild hybrid program said.

    "I don't know how many hybrids we could have sold, but we would have had at least 9,000 more batteries for the pipeline," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said. "It's not an insignificant number, but it's also part of what happens with a brand-new technology."

    Repeated calls and e-mails to Cobasys were unreturned. But a person who answered the phone at the company's Springboro, Ohio, plant said production had resumed. And the GM source said the automaker is now getting the batteries it ordered.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    That's very subjective, and depends on the comparison and the area of the country. I can compare a 2004 HCH hybrid versus the most comparable EX and the HCH comes out with a higher resale value.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    Remember the Prius had leaky battery terminals that had to be recalled. It all has to do with rushing into the hybrid hysteria to LOOK GREEN.

    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.

    And of those 2nd gen Prii sold how many batteries are out of warranty. That is a typical Toyota play on words. I would be surprised if 5% of the Prius sold are past 100,000 miles, the normal warranty. None have reached the 8-10 year. The oldest gen 2 Prius is not 5 years old yet. If Toyota wanted to be honest with their customers they would say how many batteries they have repaired or replaced in or out of warranty. They are too slick to do that. It would cause a panic in the hybrid market.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    That's very subjective, and depends on the comparison and the area of the country. I can compare a 2004 HCH hybrid versus the most comparable EX and the HCH comes out with a higher resale value.

    Again, it was stated in your link with half truths about hybrid batteries. I can attest to the fact that a GMC hybrid PU had very good resale. I only lost about $3000 owning it for 2 years. Not great in my book but I did get rid of it before anything quit working.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    After all you really know, to keep saying 'Yota only "looks green" is getting kind of tired Gary. You know better.

    Some people buy Priuses for business travel and put 35K miles on it a year. Someone who bought one outside a CARB state could be out of warranty in 3 years easy.

    And your definition of "being honest with it's customers" flies in the face of the reality of marketing. As a manufacturer, you don't EVER intentionally point out things you have done wrong or problems that your vehicles have had. From a marketing standpoint, that's just a Big Ole DUH.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Again, that was one example of what can be thousands. My EDUCATED guess is that in most areas of the country, especially the large city markets, hybrids are holding their value better than comparable gas-only versions. I know that's true in Phoenix because I KBBed it.

    And can you point out a "half-truth" in that article for me? I missed them I guess......
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    A friend to whom I've sold two, a Gen 1 and a Gen 2, this week will cross 200,000 miles since January 2004. He posts here occasionally as 'Carbot'. He will hit 250,000+ before the Gen 3s arrive next summer. I'll await his 'official' report.

    76,000+ miles in 30 mo's and running strong here.

    Resales? Real life situation. With the Prius being sold out across the country again, for the 4 time out of the 6 yrs it's been out, two people this week asked me if I wanted to sell them my 2005 with 76000 miles ( but then what would I drive 150 mi / day? ). At $18000 they said no...but at $16000 they both were interested in the 3 y.o. standard model with 5 yrs of mileage in it.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    And can you point out a "half-truth" in that article for me? I missed them I guess..

    Only pointing out the one in every hundred batteries replaced on out of warranty Prius. How many were out of warranty? Those figures are all so easily twisted to look good. Unless we know how many of the batteries have been replaced total we know very little about the reliability of the batteries. How many after 5000 miles or 30k miles. Like you say it would be crazy for Toyota to be honest about failures until they are forced to by a recall.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    Those figures are from those that are wasting our limited natural resources. :shades:

    Not the average driver. If the 15k mile average carries over to the Prius, most owners are not close to being out of warranty on the battery. The oldest 2nd gen Prius is just past 4 years and 8 months. If I remember correctly they were in very short supply for the first couple years. So most of the Prius on the road today are under 2 years and 30K miles.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Gary says, "Unless we know how many of the batteries have been replaced total we know very little about the reliability of the batteries. How many after 5000 miles or 30k miles?

    I'd have to say, and so would YOU, since you frequent these forums, that if there were a lot of them being replaced with that mileage, WE WOULD KNOW ABOUT IT !!

    The owners would be posting that in the forums, reporting it to news agencies, and to NTHSA on their complaint website. I'm going right now to look at complaints about battery replacements by owners and I will post again when I have data.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    No one at NHTSA complaint site mentioned a failed battery under warranty at 5000 miles or 30K miles.

    Also looking at the Prius area in this forum - none so far, other than one lady who says 'Yota told her she "jump started it wrong" and made her pay $4800 for a replacement. I doubt we have the whole story on that one.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    No one at NHTSA complaint site mentioned a failed battery under warranty at 5000 miles or 30K miles

    I am assuming there were no failed batteries on NHTSA at any mileage from your post. Those were just numbers. Though from what I have read on the ODI site. Most of the complaints are when they did not get satisfaction from the dealer and or manufacturer. An owner would have no reason to complain if he was experiencing trouble with his hybrid and went in and the dealer fixed the problem. How would they know if a battery was replaced? Unless they reset the computer and sent them on their way, as so often happens. We shall see how well the Hybrid batteries age as time goes by.........
  • gwmortgwmort Posts: 22
    I've got 101,000 on my first gen Prius and no problems so far. My local dealer said hes never even had to change the brakes on any Prius yet. Low maintenance ftw!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    Did you have a recall on the battery posts that can leak? Or was that just the ones sold in the EU? Did you switch to different tires right away? regen braking does seem to make the brakes last a long time on the hybrids. Keep us posted. There are first gens with 200k miles and still going strong.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Posts: 158
    Gary, as skeptical as ever ! You're targetting specifically the Prius I notice. Perhaps the moderators should move this to the Prius section.

    Your post #599 raises some concern. I too am not impressed with high mileage cars. It says much for the electrical and mechanical components and the fact that the car is well put together. It really says nothing about the state of the internal battery chemistry in those cars.

    The Prius population is indeed top heavy towards the younger vehicles now that you've pointed it out. Weren't they offering incentives in May of 2007 just to get them off the lots after the tax credits were no longer available ?

    But age is not the only enemy of batteries. Outside parking in below freezing temperatures (due to the Peukert effect) reduces chemical activity of all batteries.

    In all cases the Prius is only marginally effected. Battery degradation is more serious for the mild hybrids, like the Honda Civic Hybrid, where the vehicle gradually becomes hybrid in name only, as some owners have found. Of course the Civic scores well because of its smaller 1.3L engine. With regen providing only 2% advantage in City driving, mild hybrids rely solely on attempts to load level the engine output with the electric motor assist.. Although how a 15kw motor can load level a 240Hp V6 beats me and I wasn't surprised when the Honda Accord Hybrid was pulled after just two model years. But I digress.

    The thing is that major degradation is one thing that could slip under the door for many people who weren't monitoring too closely. I have written in the past that Toyota's system would still give most of the benefits of hybridisation without a battery. As they are built today however a weak battery would still be acceptable until the Check Engine Light comes on.

    With only a small population of cars at 8 years old, I have to agree with Gary. It may be too soon to say that this isn't going to be a problem. What we have a handle on right now are infant mortality problems with this battery which are pretty much non existent. GM has a 9,000 unit recall already on their Cobasys units by comparison.
    And yes I support that we will need a larger population of older models before we can say for sure that battery aging by the calendar (rather than cycling) is not going to be a problem.
    The Prius battery has been repriced down to $2000 with $1000 installation fee, if this could fall further the problem (in the light of $5 gas) could go away. Finally it is not beyond the realm of possibility that an aftermarket upconverter could be designed and fitted, at a lower price, to put 900W on to the high voltage bus from the existing lead acid - to start the engine and for very limited mobility under electric drive as per my 'virtual battery' suggestion elsewhere on Edmunds.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    I concede to your knowledge on things mechanical & electrical. I am not just picking on hybrids as the direction of all cars is toward short years and high mileage. Those of us that do not drive a lot are stuck with all the little problems that age will bring out in vehicles. It seems to me that most of the problems with be sensors and computer modules. The engines seem to be built to last longer than ever. And of course the batteries aging will be a big concern especially with Li-Ion. I am not as skeptical of the NiMH batteries as I have used them in laptops for 7 years without dying.

    So I imagine the battery debate will go on for some time. My advice is to those so unfortunate as to have a long commute. A hybrid can be a good choice. For me that will let a car sit for a month or more without driving it, hybrids are nothing but additional problems.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    That's a very nicely written and well-balanced post, as are your others on the HSD subject. Thanks for the insider expertise.
  • kwatts59kwatts59 Posts: 2
    I have a 12volt solar panel and I want to use it to charge my Prius car battery. I want to use less gasoline and rely on solar electric power. Is it possible?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    The only battery you can charge with that solar panel is the small battery that keeps things ready to go. It would be advantageous if you leave your car idle for weeks at a time. Otherwise it will do nothing to save gas.
  • kwatts59kwatts59 Posts: 2
    I was just wondering because I keep my car in the sun all the time, I dont park in a garage or covered parking. I also live in the desert in southern Nevada, the sunniest state in America. I just wanted to know if I can save a couple of miles per gallon. Every little bit helps. :)
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    The battery that you would need to charge to give you better mileage is the traction battery. It is a high voltage NiMH battery. There is no user access to that battery. You would void your warranty by trying to add anything to that system. The 12 volt battery is strictly for keeping the onboard computer active. It has nothing to do with the drive train. If you were to convert to a plug in Hybrid you could add a solar charging system and then you would save both gas and electricity. It looks like there will be some plug in hybrid options in 2010. That would be your best option.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    houdini1 says, "You are conveniently forgetting that at 8 years you have to replace the batteries in the Prius at a cost of $8,000. That adds up to $1,000 cost per year."

    This statement is very misleading to the uninitiated. Allow me to point out the problems with it so that not one person is confused by the reality:

    1. If you live in a CARB state, the warranty is 10 yrs/150K miles.

    2. No one in HISTORY has paid $8,000 for a Prius battery replacement. It has not and will not ever happen. The cost is far less than that, and it rarely if ever is paid ENTIRELY by the consumer.

    3. There is no guarantee that a Prius owner will EVER have to replace a traction battery, and in particular there is no reason to believe that the ENTIRE battery system will fail and need replacement. Replacements such as that are VERY VERY rare. So rare, in fact, that it is difficult to even find a story about it happening that can withstand fact-checking and scrutiny.

    4. I know of no one in a CARB state who has posted that the Prius battery failed outside of warranty. Not one instance of the current generation Prius having a battery replacement outside of warranty has been reported, as far as I can find.

    5. The cost of replacing a Prius battery is no different than having to pay for replacing an engine in a similar car. And everyone knows that people pay for replaced engines SO OFTEN these days !!!!!!

    So - is there a RISK of the Prius having a problem after 8-12 years of ownership in which a battery replacement will have to be paid for by the owner of the car? Of course there is a risk of that.

    But it is not any more likely than a Malibu blowing an engine after 8-12 years. At least as far as ACTUAL CASES have gone.

    There are even very few cases of the original Prius (first sold in the USA almost exactly 8 years ago now) needing a replacement battery. Those stories can be found but are also VERY VERY rare.

    Prices for used Prius batteries—which come from junkyards and auto body shops—range from $450 to $1,700, says Famous Rhodes, director of eBay Motors parts and accessories.

    Similarly, Toyota's Prius battery is down to $3,000 from $5,500.

    The good news, though, is that the chances of needing to replace the battery in your hybrid is low, even after the warranty coverage is up. Honda says that less than 200 of its hybrid batteries have failed post-warranty, despite over 100,000 vehicles on the road. How about Toyota? Its post-warranty battery replacement rate sits at just 0.003 percent.

    Modern hybrid vehicles are designed to minimize the strain on their high-power batteries. Battery management systems have been programmed to only allow a certain amount of the battery's available charge to dissipate, which greatly extends the life of the unit. So, when considering a hybrid vehicle, perhaps the battery shouldn't be too much of a deterrent.

  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    The poster to whom you replied has rarely made any posts with accurate info concerning the hybrids. He continues to refuse to do any research and verify if his misconception has any basis in reality.

    But in the limited circle to which he's responding it plays well, it doesn't matter whether it's true or not. "The Yanks are gonna take it all again this year", says one Bronx bar patron to the others... "Yeah you said it!" comes back the reply.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    The question is HOW LONG would you have to wait for a replacement battery on the rare occasion that one fails. If there is a shortage as Toyota says, how many spares are in the USA waiting that possible failure? Same goes for the first gen batteries? Or will the unlucky Prius owner have to wait until the new factory is built? :shades:
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    How many angels will fit on the head of a pin.

    Both points are so are far from the realm of reality that the answer just doesn't matter. The occurances are so rare that when and if one does ever happen, just like your Sequoia, and a customer is put out of a vehicle by a warranty issue there is replacement transportation - of equal type - available at one of the TRAC outlets.
  • avalon02whavalon02wh Posts: 785
    Good information.

    Let me also add that a battery replacement costs would need to be averaged over the total life of the car, not just the first 10 years. However, a battery replacement cost should be applied to the future life of the car. An owner replacing batteries would see a cost for years 10 to 20 (assuming the batteries are replaced at year 10 and last to year 20).

    Battery replacement, as you pointed out, really isn't much of an issue as it turns out. The same folks that bring up the Prius batteries also conveniently ignore the lack of reliability from a certain manufacturer that happens to be introducing a new diesel car this year.

    I am definitely convinced that the battery issue is now a non-issue - the NiMH batteries anyway. Not sure about the Li-Ion batteries yet. The issue was probably the only issue that was really standing in the way of me buying a hybrid in the future.
This discussion has been closed.