Some Hard Figures on Hybrid Battery Replacement ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Some Hard Figures on Hybrid Battery Replacement

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some Hard Figures on Hybrid Battery Replacement

Although hybrid batteries are covered under the warranty for 100,000 miles (150,000 miles in California and a few other states), fears of battery failure abound. Rumors fly around on how much hybrid battery packs cost on hybrids. I've also seen some interesting ideas about how to 'recondition' the battery. And there's a minor market going on at E-bay selling hybrid battery packs.

Both Toyota and Honda have said they expect the battery packs to last 'the life of the car.' But when you seriously begin to consider whether to buy a used hybrid car, you start wondering a great deal about how long a lifetime really is.

But now we have some hard figures on how much it would cost you to replace the battery pack, if it fails beyond the warranty period. We also have some hard numbers on how many failures Toyota and Honda have seen.

Failure Rate of Hybrid Battery Packs
Honda says fewer than 200 of their 100,000 hybrids (0.2%) have had their battery fail after the warranty expired. Toyota says their battery failure rate (after warranty) for their second generation Prius (2004 model year and up) is 0.003 percent which equates to 1 every 40,000. The first generation Prius had a failure rate of 1 percent post warranty.

If we take a look at the worldwide sales of Prius, we can figure out (approximately) how many Prius have seen a failure post-warranty:
Pre-2004, Toyota sold around 153,000 Prius. At a failure rate of 1 percent, around 1530 Prius saw battery failures post-warranty.
2004-current, Toyota sold 767,800 Prius. At a failure rate of .0003 percent, around 23 have had a battery failure post-warranty.

Of course, you need to keep in mind the pre-2004 Prius have been on the road longer and therefore have had a better chance of reaching post-warranty time.

Hybrid Battery Replacement Cost
On June 1, Honda is cutting it's replacement costs from $3,400 to $1,968 (excluding installation costs) for a Insight up to $2,440 on an Accord Hybrid. Toyota is also looking to cut it's $3,000 replacement costs (excluding installation cost). Originally, replacement costs were around $5,500.

So, while costs are coming down, it's still not an easy sell. When you may be paying $2 thousand or more to replace a significant car part on a used vehicle, you would be wise to think seriously about that. But given the low failure rates on the latest models, plus the increase in battery plants, which will likely lead to further cost reductions in the next few years, you may feel your fears have eased a little bit.

Source: Hybrids: The High Cost of Low Batteries

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Anonymous said...

The rate of Hybrid battery "failure" offered by the manufacturers is somewhat misleading to the public. As a former factory tech rep be suspicious of the wording. For example an engine can "wear out" or it can "fail". When something wears out, the part is below specification for intended design use. When it "fails", the component abruptly quits working. The same with Hybrid batteries. Few will "fail" (as in abruptly quit working). However, a great majority will "wear out" after 100,000 miles. The real answer we want from Honda and especially Toyota is to publish the average life cycle of the batteries. That answer is a lot different that the "failure" stats offered by them. My guess is "worn out" at an average 110-125 miles.

Mike said...

I can understand your skepticism. But I believe they, in this case, mean the same thing. They are talking about having to replace the battery pack, not having an abrupt failure.

According to the story, Toyota expects the battery pack to last the 'lifetime' of the car, or about 180,000 miles. I know that there are cars out there that have lasted way past those numbers. But at the same time, there are cars that are failing before the warranty runs out, too. They are few and far between, but it does occur.

Which means, I believe the batteries have an expected lifetime of 180,000 miles.

Anonymous said...

If "Both Toyota and Honda have said they expect the battery packs to last 'the life of the car." they should give warranty for "the life of the car".

If they limit to 100K miles, this is what they really expect....

William Johnson said...

Just like the give a 5yr 60k mile warranty on some cars but that doesn't mean the cars will wear out within that time- toyotas, hondas, etc will go for 300k+ miles but will obviously need some after warranty repairs.

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