By on July 18, 2016

3rd Generation Toyota Prius HEV Battery, Image: Toyota

Many industry reporters and enthusiasts attached stigma to early mass market hybrids because of the unknown reliability of their batteries. Potential owners worried that a failed battery would stick them with an expensive, out-of-warranty repair bill.

The first generation of hybrid vehicles hit the streets right around the turn of the century, right at the same time the domestic market was in love with SUVs. Anecdotes abounded about how dangerous and expensive hybrids would be to fix and maintain. Now that they’ve been on the road for over a decade, data shows — for the most part — there was no reason to fear these electrified fuel sippers.

The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid were some of the first hybrids to hit the road and many are still running on their original batteries today. Those battery packs are made up of many individual Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery cells. As Alex Dykes explains here, NiMH battery chemistry is not extremely power dense, but it’s fairly stable. These cells are most likely to lose battery life if they are fully charged or discharged, so manufacturers came up with safeguards that force the batteries to only use 60 to 70 percent of their rated capacity. These safeguards have helped keep many of these batteries in usable condition for hundreds of thousands of miles.

Even with the safeguards in place, there are some that fail or lose capacity. Many of these systems have passive cooling, which relies on the air in the cabin to cool the battery pack. If the batteries are exposed to heat often, the cells may degrade resulting in a decrease of usable charge. Leaving these batteries sitting unused for longer periods of time can also be detrimental, as some can fully discharge and become unrecoverable from that state. Most manufacturers recommend running the cars at least every couple of months to maintain battery health.

Initial reports from automakers stated that most of these batteries were surviving well past the warranty period. Honda initially reported that battery failure rates outside of the warranty period were around 0.002 percent for all of its cars. Toyota stated that about 1 percent of first generation Prius batteries failed out of warranty. That failure rate dropped to around 0.003 percent for second-generation hybrids. Consumer Reports conducted owner surveys that counted all battery replacements and found that first and second year Prius models had around a 5-percent replacement rate, which dropped closer to 0.1 percent during the end of the run for the second-generation Prius.

Honda models did not fare as well in the survey with 21 percent of first year Civic Hybrids requiring a battery replacement at some point. The replacement rate dropped into the single digits by 2008, but quickly spiked to over 30 percent for 2009 and 2010 models. The main issue at play with Honda IMA batteries was the original programming did not work well in stop-and-go situations. Taking the car for short trips while the battery was low on charge would not allow it to ever fully charge up, which would shorten its usable state of charge and cause it to fail.

In response, Honda rolled out software updates that changed the logic for battery charging and reduced the amount of time that the battery would be in use when low on charge so that it would be able to get back to healthy state. It also issued warranty extensions, which can cover some vehicles for up to 11 years or 162,000 miles, to extend coverage of the IMA battery. Most of these models are still under the standard 8-year/100,000 warranty, so owners do not incur any costs for a battery replacement. My experience with a 2003 Civic Hybrid echoed some of these issues. I purchased the car after it had sat for some time and it showed various battery errors and an unequal state of charge. Luckily, I was able to build a grid charger and bring it back to life.

General Motors ran into issues with some of its earlier hybrid vehicle batteries.

In 2008, it first recalled about 9,000 battery packs for internal leaks that could disable the battery packs for some of its Chevy and Saturn models. This was followed by another recall in 2010 that saw GM replacing all battery packs for 2007 to 2010 hybrid vehicles due to risks of cracking that could cause external leaks. There has not been any word of widespread issues with the replacement packs and my personal experience with the Saturn Vue Hybrid has shown the replacement battery remains reliable, showing a factory state of charge on my basic OBDII tool as it approaches 100,000 miles.

Ford has fared a little better on the durability front. Its failure rates are lower than other manufacturers and early results showed that there were only a handful of failures among the first 190,000 batteries built. Taxi fleets all over the country use Escape Hybrids and many are reaching 300,000 miles without any battery issues. Ford did have some issues with auxiliary components and ended up recalling the Motor Electronics Coolant (MEC) pump that cools the power electronics. The affected pumps could fail and cause the car to go into limp-home mode with reduced power.

Most hybrid vehicles have warranty coverage for eight years or more for their battery packs, so out of warranty replacements are still fairly infrequent. The older vehicles on the road may see some failures as the batteries age and degrade, but there are now rebuilt battery options on the market that can keep these cars going.

[Image: Toyota]

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140 Comments on “Original Hybrid Batteries Still Charged Up 15 Years Later...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Good stuff, thanks for the update. I’d heard anecdotal evidence that hybrid batteries were reliable, it’s nice to get some actual data.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Yeah. I remember all those B&B posters telling us how the batteries in the Prius were going to die early and cost so much to replace. I guess, in the end, all that hooey was founded more in their own biases than reality.

      Well, I’m sure they all learned from the experience. It’s not like anyone attacked Ford over aluminum F-150s or Cadillac over turbo engines or Tesla over, well, everything.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        Good Morning, VoGo

        If I recall the arguments, and I was one of the naysayers, it included the cost saving as well. Not sure about the ave breakdown today, but the added cost for the hybrid was way over the top. If you needed to spend 4K more for the tech…that was a whole lotta gas.

        The next failure I was/am worried about is the disposal and long term health in very cold climates.
        I know you have responded before stating it is all recycled.
        However, I know of no real details of the recycling of these huge batteries OR of the waste from the recycling. Nor have I seen any strong test long term in very cold weather…which is all of N America…and of course, our northern brethren.

        (is brethren now considered wrong and anti anything?)

        If you are a fan if the Bull Shit show by Penn n Teller, you will recall their recycling special.
        It was both hilarious as well as depressing.
        Recycling was causing more environmental waste than simply throwing away.

        So, as a last note, I am a lover of the hybrid…much more so than the all electric with its limited drive range. But the after damage and cost per mile is what I am most concerned about.

        This all said, I almost purchased a Cmax, but did not like that ridiculous raised floor. I am so looking forward to the Pacifica plug in…but will truly miss the stow n go.

        But the Pacifica seems like a perfect car for us Oldie Moldies…we love our minivans down in Florida.
        Seems us old farts have gone from Big cruisers to Big Minivans cause we can still take up a lotta space in the fast lane doin 30.

        A minivan is the perfect size for one old person.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          TT,
          Here are 3 articles on how Prius batteries are recycled. None of them from a liberal mouthpiece (like me).

          http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/what-happens-to-ev-and-hybrid-batteries.html

          http://www.autoblog.com/2012/01/05/replacing-prius-batteries-can-be-good-for-the-environment-and/

          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lithium-ion-batteries-hybrid-electric-vehicle-recycling/

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            well, ok, VoGo…
            So you are gonna use such liberal left wing commie sites as Edmunds, autoblog and scientific american to back your position!!!!!????

            But anyways…the issue I have is, and hopefully I am wrong as I previously told you I am hopeful for hybrids, is that the only company even thinking about recycling has been given push money to invest in it.
            And right now all estimates are that it will not even be seriously worthwhile until many years into the future.
            Until then it’s off to the landfills.

            Not that this is all bad, after all…we send everything we have there now. I am a big believer in consumer economies.

            I won’t be a hypocrite here as my garbage can runneth over.

            PLus, the important thing here is the environmental damage caused by recycling. This is the dirty secret nobody talks about when bowing to the Gods of Whole Earth and Recycling. Many recycling methods actually are very destructive and produce ridiculously horrid nasty side things…much worse than the material they are trying to save the earth from.

            All I ask is for a little forethought,.A little more truth in the recycling story might be expecting to much. Today, movements and group thoughts and feelings rule.

            Not truth.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @TrailerTrash – brethren is by definition “fellow Christians or members of a male religious order.”

          That would mean you have to be banned for not being inclusive ;)

          I’ve had the concern about how they fair in extreme cold. Our local taxi fleets seem to have no issues.

        • 0 avatar
          mattwc1

          I am admittedly was in the camp of naysayers when the 1st gen Prius started showing up. I now own a well used, Honda Insight (or what I call a Prius light) that has regularly outperformed the EPA figures. Many older hybrid battery packs can also be extended by grid charging/discharging. This essentially conditions the battery packs to almost OEM levels.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        My problem with the Cadillac turbo engines isn’t that they are unreliable. It is that they are worse than what Ford and Ze Germans offer and in general are just lame compared to the V8 family.

        That when turned up to V8 power levels they get the about the same fuel economy as the LT1 is just added insult.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatist

      Part of the success seems to be the sustained 60-70% charge. Plug in use and full electric driving loses that advantage.

      How come Apple and Samsung can’t make batteries that last ( not to mention power tools manufacturers)

      • 0 avatar
        mik101

        I’d suspect a lot boils down to the complexity of the battery itself (mostly just due to cost, in part by the monitoring/regulating electronics) but the other question becomes how much extra capacity one is willing to carry around and never be actually able to use. As the article states, that has been a huge factor in these hybrid batteries longevity. They never actually fully charge or discharge. (Neither do phone batteries actually, but the spread likely isn’t any where near as large).

      • 0 avatar

        Cost and usable capacity. In a small device you really want that last 10-20% capacity it’s a little easier to leave it behind in a car extending the life.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike47

      Hey all. I have been reconditioning NiMh batteries for Honda civics for many years now and I can tell you honestly that Honda’s battery pack is a poorly designed one in the 2000-2010 Civic hybrids. Specifically, there is no way to keep the cells balanced like in the Toyota and Ford designs. Also Honda’s ventilation design is a bunch of crap in those years as well. No way for the fans to keep cells cool enough especially in hot weather and very especially true of 2006-2009 models Civics with electric AC. Avoid those if you can! However they do perform well enough if driven almost exclusively highway (lots of cooling air moving and low battery loading). City driving is a totally different matter for Honda hybrid packs. Hot city traffic is death for a Honda civic hybrid battery.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I am still surprised that turbocharging has won over hybridization, at least in the short term. Hybrid systems don’t weigh much more than turbos + all the changes to accommodate them, and are way less complicated. The latest Prius engine is still port injected and uses a simple, cheap, throttle-less VVL system. It’s battery pack and electric motors weigh like 120-150lbs I think. And now with the durability myth put to bed (think about how far battery tech has advanced over the last 20 years!) it really seems like a no brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

      I think it’s temporary. I think we’ll start to see more and more hybrids as CAFE targets increase and gas prices rise.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I suspect a lot of carmakers were scared off by the wall of patents Toyota and Ford racked up (now the patents are starting to come off the books). At the same time, turbos were relatively easy to install, as there were Tier 1 suppliers happy to share knowledge and sell them to you.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      In Ford’s case, so much of its volume is in CUVs, SUVs, and trucks, and I don’t think current hybrid systems are robust enough for a vehicle that will be towing a trailer.

      Another issue is that too many people equate “hybrid” with “Prius”, and are put off by the Prius’s deserved image as a non-car.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        “I don’t think current hybrid systems are robust enough for a vehicle that will be towing a trailer”

        No they’re not, which is kinda weird and sad because electric motors are perfect for towing heavy loads. Even the old GM Two-Mode hybrid had a hobbled tow rating.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          It’s not wierd. Hybrids with power split devices for transmissions only use the electric mode in reverse. Depending on the powertrain and circumstances that may be inadequate. Also, hybrids with this setup lack powerful engine braking. Which could be a safety hazard such as when descending long steep grades on mountain highways with a trailer. So the Escape Hybrid has a tow rating of only 1000lb. However, there are no reports of either problem on Escape Hybrid discussion sites.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Yes the eCVT hybrids use only the traction MG for reverse so that could pose some problems with an extra load on the system from a large trailer. I know I had our Hybrid in a situation where we had to back up a very steep hill and it barely made it.

            As required by law those cars have an “L” setting on the shifter and that will provide significant boost in engine braking.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Scoutdude, that’s why I said hybrids lack “powerful” engine braking. The “L”, or “B” on the Prius helps, but is inadaquate for the most severe descents, even without a trailer. You end up riding the mechanical brakes, with no regeneration because the hybrid battery is full to allowed capacity. I agree few would ever drive on such roads. But I drive a few of them that I would never tow a trailer down with the Escape Hybrid.

          • 0 avatar

            They could add dump loads or heat syncs for regeneration braking with a full battery to get around this. Could be as simple as a few large heat elements under the car.

        • 0 avatar
          RS

          Battery weight was probably a factor in tow ratings for some.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Good point, but typically tow ratings for hybrids are far less than the battery weight compared to equivalent non-hybrids. The non-hybrid Escape had a tow rating at least twice the Hybrid’s 1000lb.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        If hybrid systems are good enough for city buses I’m sure they can work for CUVs. If/when gas prices shoot back up being able to advertise that your 5 seater CUV gets better combined mileage than a Corolla/Civic will be key.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Personally, I’d prefer a hybrid over a turbocharged alternative. Especially if the hybrid means I could keep a V8.

      The Q50 is the only vehicle I can think of right now that offers both options.

      The hybrid is ~$47K with 360hp and a 31 MPG rating. The Red Sport is ~$49k with 400hp and 22MPG, and the Q50S has 300hp with 23MPG at ~$41K. So the hybrid seems competitive. Unfortunately, the Q50 hybrid no longer offers any sport package and has that weird “steer-by-wire” thing standard.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        This is what I am talking about… I’d rather have a port injected NA V6 with simple cheap old VVT/VVL tech and a “torque fill”/emissions and fuel economy helping hybrid system than a 2.0T 4 banger teched and boosted within an inch of imminent death. The 2.0T in the GTI hits a peak boost of 20+ PSI if I’m not mistaken. DI fuel pressure systems are out of this world. Hybrids are much simpler and robust, and for us enthusiasts allow for nicer powerplants.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          GTDI engines are nowhere near “imminent death.” it’s rather FUD-dy to imply they are. their mechanical strength is more than capable of dealing with the power levels from the factory; I’ve witnessed some of the durability tests done on engines; they beat the ever-loving s**t out of them. far harder than practically anyone in the real world.

          What kills boosted gas engines is if they lean out under load. That leads to detonation which is what damages the engine. 20 psi boost is not a problem so long as adequate fuel is supplied. Plus direct injection gets you a “chamber cooling” effect as the gasoline evaporates in-cylinder instead of in the intake port, which also helps prevent detonation.

          besides, if boost pressure and fuel rail pressure was such a problem, diesels would be blowing up left and right.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            When following turbocharged Hyundai/Kia and Ford products onto the freeway, I occasionally see a little puff of black smoke. This explains it: running rich (throwing in extra fuel) under load to protect durability.

            This also maybe explains why fuel economy is worse than expected for these little puffers; Americans love jackrabbit starts.

            Sort of like the old RazORcomb pocket grooming tool, perhaps they should call these mills EcoORboost engines: don’t expect it to do both functions at the same time.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            all spark ignition engines will run rich at or near wide-open-throttle. which yes, is done to prevent detonation.

            BUT, there are grumblings that DI gas engines produce a lot more particulate matter (probably due to the shorter time available for the gas to evaporate and mix with the air charge) and the catalytic converter can’t burn off solid particulates. we’ll probably be seeing diesel-style particulate filters on GDI engines pretty soon.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            OK, I was being a little hyperbolic. But still, I’ve never heard of something like LSPI actually lunching a naturally aspirated engine. But it’s a known issue for the Mustang Ecoboost for example.

            Even if the engine can withstand the load, there’s still more modes for failure, more stress, more complexity, more cost than there is for a simple cheap NA engine, a battery and an MGU. I’m thinking the widespread adoption of turbos has more to do with displacement laws than turbos actually being a better solution.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            JimZ – There have been studies released on fine particulate saying they are comparable if not worse than diesel so I do believe that you are correct.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            The GDI particulate filters are definitely coming:

            http://www.tenneco.com/tenneco_develops_gasoline_particulate_filter_technology_for_european_light_vehicles/

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Yep, run rich all do with lots of throttle. My LT1 engine leaves quite a bit of black carbon on the outer exhaust tips when used locally…that long, steep, limited access hill leaving the Home Depot parking lot is a nice spot to exercise the engine….

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      That’s why I’m looking at the C-Max to replace my TDI. Those cars are still using the Ford 2.0 port injected engine (no DI worries), combined with their hybrid drive train which is warrantied for 10 yrs/150K in CARB states.

      After the TDI emissions debacle and people discovering that DPFs and HPFPs can be wear items on them, a Ford hybrid seems like a somewhat safe choice for long-term ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      deleted comment,

  • avatar
    JimZ

    the Escape had an air-cooled battery. the MEC pump cooled the power electronics (DC-DC converter, VF motor drive) underhood.

    • 0 avatar

      Good call, fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      To be exact, to cool the battery pack, the 2005-2009 Escape Hybrids used refrigerant from the main a/c system routed to separate hvac system in the cargo area. The later 2010-2012 Escape Hybrids eliminated that system, and on the basis the battery likes the same temperatures as people, use cabin air to cool the battery. For trivia fans, this is why the later FEH’s don’t have the rear side window vent seen on the 2005-2009. Battery operation is sufficient to heat the battery when needed. The MECS pump problem involved the first generation FEH’s.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I think a lot of the “long term reliability ” fears, come from us folks living in a cold climate. I know what happens if you leave your I phone in the car over night at -30 F. I realize that tremendous advances have been made, with battery technology. However, years of experiencing the impact that our climate has on all things automotive , has made me somewhat sceptical .

    Personally , ill take my chances with a Turbo, over a Hybrid/EV…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I think your fears are justified.

      Batteries like room temperature best, and extremes the least. Leaf batteries got a lot of bad press due to failures in hot climates, but little mention of how they suffered in cold climates (I’m in the Pittsburgh area). The cold not only affected the chemical performance of my 12 Leaf battery, it also forced it to deep-cycle – both bad juju for lithium ion cells. And this was on a car that was garage kept, commuting only 9 miles each way.

      • 0 avatar
        HeyILikemySaturnOK

        I do not personally own a Leaf, but I think those earlier experience of capacity loss (and long-term degradation due to heat) will be minimized with the newer batteries that are coming out. For one thing, having a liquid temperature management system seems to have minimized degradation if you compare the battery lives of the air-cooled Leaf vs. liquid-cooled Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Can you provide links to reports of Prius or Escape Hybrid owners complaining about problems in cold weather? Bear in mind that these hybrids use the big traction battery and an elecrtic motor to start the gas engine. So compared to a non-hybrid, they have very powerful starting systems.

      Hybrids can get poor mileage doing short trips in very cold weather, but non-hybrids suffer from this at least as badly. If not, can you explain why that would be so?

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        With the release of the 2016 Prius, there was word that the Li-ion battery is not functional below -29 degrees. I found out later that was centigrade. Oops, that is only -22 F.
        Presumably in Alaska or Montana one would opt for the base two model with the NiMH batttery.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Deep cycling is bad for most battery chemistries.

    Lithium ion batteries fare much worse, as my – and many others’ – experience with a 12 Leaf showed. One reason Teslas do better in this regard is that they are not deep-cycled due to their long range.

    As for hybrid batteries, it will be interesting to see how today’s lithium ion versions do long-term (such as the one in my 13 Optima Hybrid). I’ve often figured that a degrading hybrid battery (of any chemistry) would be masked by gradually increasing fuel consumption, and slightly lower EV-mode performance. Any experience with this, B&B?

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I have been looking at old SC Lexus lately, thinking of trying a Toyota V8 on for size. Looking at that artistic hinge system makes me realize that engineering has made great leaps in the last 30 years, in a two steps forward, one back kind of way. That the beta testers of hybrid have done well speaks to what is possible when only the STEM people are in charge. I will never own one but I am guessing all my grandkids will. I will miss the sound track of IC engines the most – just listen to those damn truck-sounding things powering F1 these days. Sure isn’t anything like a V10 @ 20k rpm.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    “Most manufacturers recommend running the cars at least every couple of months to maintain battery health.”

    So, since I am one of those snow birds and leave a few cars in locked down homes on drip charges for 6 mo, does this cause damage?

    • 0 avatar

      As long as you don’t leave it with an almost empty hybrid battery you should be able to get by. I recommend following the procedure from the manufacturer to fully charge up the hybrid battery before parking it for your break.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        this seems like a strange request.
        Don’t hybrids keep their batteries at a best level?
        I mean, do folks driving hybrids actually have to monitor battery levels?
        I thought that was the whole idea of a hybrid vs all electric.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          In any normal usage, there is no need to monitor the battery, it’s only an issue if you are going to leave the car in storage for an extended period of time.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s correct, no need to monitor for normal usage. As an example of long term storage recommendations, here is the Toyota TSB for dealers about storing hybrid cars: http://goo.gl/ktIiRP

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            so bozi

            if I read correctly, it is not a good car for me to buy since I just have to leave for a minimum of 6 months.
            If I do own a hybrid, and I am certainly looking forward to the Pacifica HB, then I will have to store.
            I just live in two places for half a year.
            The only way around this s to have somebody open the garage and take the car out for a spin every two mnths as the Toyota advice states.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          TT – you can run your hybrid battery down if you use all electric for the last portion of your drive. The engine keeps the hybrid battery between a minimum and maximum state of charge. As long as you aren’t asking anything more than what the electric motor will provide, it will run down to that lower threshold. As soon as that threshold is hit, though, the engine starts running to get the state of charge back up.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            See…my bad.
            I thought the system kicked in much earlier to charge the battery.
            I actually thought the modern hybrid was always charging the battery(s).
            Not happy to hear this.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Trailer Trash, Constantly charging the hybrid battery would defeat the purpose of the hybrid system and shorten the life of the traction battery.

            The target SOC for the traction battery is 50%. On a long steady state drive that is what the system will put the battery at. That way you have the boost to get up hills and/or accelerate from a stop. It also gives you a place to put that energy created from the regen braking.

            There are a couple of conditions where it will take the battery to a ~90% SOC and that is on cold start. Once the engine is started for emissions purposes it will not be shut down until it reaches a minimum operating temp. So during that cold start and the associated fast idle the extra energy is directed to the battery to store it up for later in the trip.

            Another scenario is if you are idling for an extended period and climate control is demanded. If it is AC that is needed the battery SOC will be allowed to fall to 20~30% and once that occurs the system will charge it up to ~70% and the ICE will turn off. The process will repeat as needed.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            Thanks, scottdude.
            very informative and I think, keyword think, I understand the programming.

            So I’m gonna guess you are saying the outside temps are monitored and as such winter climates are recognized and sort of managed.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            I don’t think so. Although hybrid battery management is complex, they tend to try to maintain a 50% charge. If demand is low and charge is low, they will run the ice a bit harder to move tward 50%. If charge is high and even if demand is low, they will slack off the ice a bit and use a little electric boost to move the charge level toward 50%.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The temp monitoring is no different than for a conventional car. They look at the coolant or cylinder head temp and adjust the operating strategy based on that. So start that Hybrid when it is say 0 degrees and demand heat from the ICE immediately and you’ll see that battery SOC gauge peg before the car is allowed to enter EV mode or shut down while stopped or coasting. Start it at 5pm in the summer in Vegas or Phoenix when the “cold soak” is 100 degree and immediately demand AC and it is likely that the engine will reach the min temp before the battery SOC gauge is pegged.

            One of the reasons that Hybrid MPG suffers more in the winter than conventional vehicles is the fact that it does take longer to reach min operating temp and you can suck a lot of heat out of the engine heating up the cabin. So even though it has already reached the min temp it can get back to the point where the engine will start to maintain that min temp and still provide heat.

            So the thing that differs from a conventional car is that the current HVAC setting has a significant influence on the operating strategy, while in a conventional car the influence is limited to adjusting the idle “step” to account for the added load of the AC compressor.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            About the only thing a hybrid has to heat in the winter that a non-hybrid does not, is the traction battery. Hybrids also typically have smaller lighter ice engines to heat up. The traction battery doesn’t have to be nearly as hot as an ice, and being partially inside the interior, is easier to keep warm than an ice.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @brandloyalty, the point is that with the hybrid the engine is shut off when ever possible to save fuel and in cold climates heating the cabin can require more BTUS that is being put into the system by burning fuel. With our former Fusion Hybrid we experienced the engine running just to maintain its min operating temp due to the heat being removed to heat the cabin.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Yes, mine does this too. It also has to keep flimsy exposed things like the catalytic converter hot. Don’t non-hybrids have to burn extra gas to keep the interior etc. warm in colder weather also? Engine shut-down is only a small portion of how hybrids save gas. And again, what it boils down to is that the only extra thing needing some heat, and probably only at cold startup, is the hybrid battery.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            No cars powered by standard ICE engines (those with shut down excluded) do not burn extra fuel to heat the cabin. Because those engines run all the time there is a lot of fuel burnt to keep the engine running all the time so more heat is put into the system that is needed. (assuming that we aren’t talking about operating in 20 below.

            Take two Escapes, one hybrid and one with the conventional power train. Say the temps are 30-40 degrees. In that situation most people are probably going to be running the heater.

            So take them both out on the freeway and get the engine up to the normal operating temp of ~200 degrees. Now come to a traffic jam where you come to a complete stop with maybe a little crawling at under 5mph.

            The Hybrid will shut down the engine because running is not necessary to motivate the vehicle. Once the engine temp gets down to ~150 the engine will start up and thus put heat back into the system to provide cabin heat.

            Now with the conventional vehicle the engine will sit there and idle. The cabin heat will remove heat from the system but at a lower rate than the engine idling will put into the system. So sit there long enough and the temp will climb until it reaches the point where the car will turn on the radiator’s fan to bring the temp back down to the desired range.

            Engine shut down is the primary factor in the reason that Hybrids get significantly better MPG in city type driving than conventional cars.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          TrailerTrash, either you’re trolling or you didn’t carefully read the answers to your question.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            What?
            Go away.
            Sorry, Mark, but this is idiotic.
            Had to kick my cat again….

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            I have found that my car no longer allows heavy charging at the tail end of my 2 hour commute if it is hot out. The charge indicator stays at zero, even if the SOC guage indicates “room” for more. If it is not too hot, the gauge shows a deep charge. Also, with the hot soak, the car toggles in/out of EV mode during that tail end as well as I drive down the hill with my foot lightly on the brake. It never did that until the car hit about 100K miles. Now at 132K.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Regarding leaving vehicles on a “drip charge” whether that is bad or good depends on the charger being used. If you have a proper battery maintainer then you are doing the battery a favor. If you are using a “trickle charger” then you are harming the battery more than just letting it sit for 6 months disconnected from the vehicle. A battery maintainer will vary the charge rate to bring the battery to a full charge and keep it there. A trickle charger will continue to pump its 1~2 amps into the battery regardless of its state of charge.

      For a Hybrid the only way an owner can charge the traction battery him/herself is to run the engine, and yes that should be done every two months or so. Yes there are ways to charge the traction battery off the grid but the average driver doesn’t have access to such things and it isn’t worth it for them to do that.

      That Toyota TSB has more to do with the fact that they put such a crappy 12v battery in the vehicle from the factory and the vehicle has a high parasitic drain.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        And 12volt battery degradation in a hybrid can be masked by the fact the 12v battery is not used for starting. No slow cranking to let you know the battery is weak. A weak 12v battery may first show up as failure or wierd operation of systems running off the 12v battery. Which may lead to costly and futile troubleshooting. All the charge the 12v battery needs to sucessfully start a hybrid is enough juice to close the relays that connect the traction battery to the rest of the systems.

      • 0 avatar
        TheEyeballKid

        The 12v battery may be small and low capacity, but it is not crappy. I had strange issues with my 2004 Prius last summer, once in a while it would refuse to start saying it needed to be parked on a level surface. Then one time the screen came on but with low illumination and the car wasn’t started – and I couldn’t turn it off either! And I couldn’t lock or unlock the doors electronically. A little googling found the cause – the 12v “accessory” (it doesn’t start the motor, it unlocks doors and starts the computer) battery. Since that battery is in the back and the liftgate only opens electronically, I can to climb over the back seat, open a panel, and fiddle with the locking mechanism to open it. Called around for a compatible battery, returned with it in my backpack on my bicycle (very glad it was small!), and managed to install it. I did skin a knuckle doing so – the bolts were quite hard to move since they had never been loosened before. This was the original “crappy” OEM battery installed in the factory – it had lasted 11 years.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The TSB was regarding certain years of the Camry Hybrid that had the problem with the crappy battery.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          My Nissan Altima Hybrid came with a 12 volt Panasonic battery and it is still original…7 years old…

          • 0 avatar
            DrGastro997

            Panasonic batteries last very long. I have one in my 2007 4Runner. Original and still strong!

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Late to the party, but I thought that by now, an AGM battery of any type isn’t going to be crap! (Maybe ten model-years ago, not now!)

          Good to know that these hybrid systems are built like the proverbial brick outhouses. Obviously, Gotham is a great torture-test, but how do these do in Toronto, Montreal, or points further north, where winter conditions exist for seven months of the year?

          The Accord Hybrid may be a real possibility for me if Honda dumps the V6, as I understand the system in the new one is very well done.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    It will be interesting to see if this positive trend continues with the new battery technologies. Laboratory tests will be able to demonstrate if the new technologies have more energy density, are quicker to recharge, lighter in weight, cheaper to produce, etc., but it is difficult to know ahead of time whether the new chemistry will hold up after 5-15 years of cold Minnesota winters or hot Phoenix summers. I also wonder if 100% EV batteries will hold up as well as hybrid batteries, because the batteries in most hybrids don’t work nearly as hard or often as a full-EV – a Prius can only go about 2-3 miles at most on pure battery power before the gasoline engine kicks in. We only have about 5 years of EV experience, and EVs tend to get driven a lot less than regular cars because of their short range. Will we hear about 300,000 mile Leafs and Teslas running on their original batteries 10 years from now?

    • 0 avatar
      HeyILikemySaturnOK

      Here’s an article about the highest-mileage Leaf that I have ever heard of:

      http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1089091_owner-of-100000-mile-nissan-leaf-electric-car-to-be-honored-monday

      …and here’s an article about a ’12 Volt that’s up to 300,000 miles, but that is not a pure EV.
      http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1102736_durable-2012-chevrolet-volt-300000-miles-no-battery-loss

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Yeah, that Leaf is still functional at 150k miles, but his range is almost useless because his battery capacity is down to 52%. That is approximately the same trajectory my 12 Leaf’s battery was on.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          A good thing about a hybrid vs an ev is that because the battery/regen system is only part of the ways hybrids get higher mileage, eventual battery degradation in a hybrid will result in only a small loss of mileage. Probably 40% maximum loss for a total battery failure. 4% mileage loss for a 10% battery loss of capacity.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Total battery failure in a Ford or Toyota means that the vehicle won’t operate. In most Hondas the vehicle will still operate even with the battery pack in the off position and since the system provides even less MPG gains than the Ford/Toyota the MPG loss is not that significant.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          It all depends on your use pattern. I keep thinking about the sub $10K Focus EV and Leafs for my kids who are away at college. Where they live a ~30 mile range would give a 10 mile buffer for my Daughter and my Son would only need a ~40 mile range to have a 10 mile buffer. In both cases that is allowing for a moderate detour on the way home to stop at the store ect. Now coming home is another story as they need over 100 miles for that. If they could share and switch cars w/o complaining it would work for one of them to have one and the other to have an ICE.

          Now if my wife and I lived in that town there is no question that we would have one EV in the fleet and it would be the primary around town vehicle and commuter for whoever had the longer trip that was still in 80~90% of the then usable range. I could see getting another 10 years and 100-125k miles out of it. Even with a net value of zero at the end of life $1000 per year depreciation isn’t bad and the cost of gas vs electricity will recoup some of that.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      When it comes to EVs, eventually maybe we’ll see different chemistries for different applications. For example, Bollore’s Bluecar uses a unique solid state battery coupled to a supercapacitor. Compared to conventional Li-ion batteries, it’s much more tolerant of high heat and is said to provide longer range for the same size battery–but it also has more rapid self-discharge. So if you’re running a car-sharing service in southern Arizona–where it’s hot as hell, driving distances can be long, and the cars go right on a charger after each drive–then the Bollore solution is perfect, not despite but because of conditions that would stress a conventional battery.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Excellent article.
    Need an article similar for Li-ion batteries.

  • avatar
    King of Eldorado

    I had one of the original Honda Insights, bought new in 2000 in the lime green color that was only sold that year (at least in the US). Doomsayers suggested that the batteries would need replacement after five years at an estimated cost of $4,000, so I traded it in after 4 years and I’m sure took a hit on the deal. Twelve years later, I still see it (or one exactly like it) running around town looking just fine, and I’ve wondered if the batteries ever got replaced. (I’m told they drive just fine, albeit slower, even if the batteries are dead.) Now I wish I had kept it, as they’re becoming rare curiosities if not exactly collector material.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      King of Eldorado: I kept my 1st year green Insight – but I’m on my 3rd IMA battery. 150K miles and three batteries is INEXCUSABLE and the last one was out of my own pocket, a hand-built $2700 item from Bumblebee Batteries. Adding to my distrust with Honda: they replaced my IMA computer – which immediately resulted in a reduction of range, fuel economy and power. It’s an open secret that Honda did this to increase the longevity of the terrible and fragile batteries they used – but I call it fraud. When I bought the car it promised 70mpg hwy 60 city and was quite fun in a CRX kind of way. When a car company sells a car that behaves one way, then reprograms it after you’re on the hook for five years of payments to behave another, that’s a swindle.
      I write this because as much as I wanted to like the CRZ, as much as I think it’s a very handsome design, I’ll NEVER trust a Honda hybrid again.
      I did fix the horsepower deficit on my 2nd Insight by installing a 220hp K20a that tends to put a hurting on other cars at SCCA events …

  • avatar

    Wow, the comments are civil. This is nice. Nice indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I don’t think this topic is very controversial. Let’s see what happens when one of the posts pushes somebody’s political buttons.

      • 0 avatar

        Fair enough. Though this would have been controversial about 10 years ago. Funny how things change.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Many years ago, I was very critical of hybrid technology, their risk of battery replacement, and of the Volt (GM + bailout politics, etc), and clashed with some folks here on these topics.

          Now I have a different tune: I’ve previously leased an EV, still own a hybrid, and am very supportive of the Volt’s approach to alternate fueling. This is partly thanks to the B&B at TTAC, plus real data as the market evolves.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          The first gen hybrids were typically purchased (at least those here in CA) by the stereotypical hippies. Who lived 10-20 minutes from where they worked. Who were sanctimonious about their purchase.

          When reports suggested that recycling costs and manufacturing costs made hybrids damaging to the environment (big carbon footprint to gather all the materials to make), it was fun sport to remind said self-righteous Prius buyer of their inattentiveness to such matters.

          Funny thing though. The technology was pretty well baked in it’s first iteration and those early fears of battery failure turned out to be nothing but fear. Toyota was well out in front and has been rewarded for taking the risks they took.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            You will note that the so-called hippies who supposedly bought Prius’, did not infest discussions of performance cars with tripe about personality issues, durability and payoff periods.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            It also turns out that those initial studies that suggested that hybrids had a higher total carbon footprint were wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            brand,

            The sanctimonious 1st gen Prius owners were everywhere. Not sure if you’re referring to TTAC or not, but they were here. There were a lot of them in West Los Angeles and they were happy to share their opinions with you. And by share, I mean full court press.

            Over time the Prius buyer changed to include much more than the narrow niche from where it started. Thankfully.

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Mama

          Not that long ago the manlier manly men on TTAC would rant endlessly re. how hybrids and electric cars were for mincing, gormless liberals, pedophiles and communists. The worst offenders from that time now try to position themselves as Tesla advocates.

          At no point did they ever admit to being wrong. Obviously they subscribe to the precept that admitting fault is a sign of weakness.

      • 0 avatar
        Blackcloud_9

        You mean like:

        IT’S ALL OBAMA’S FAULT THAT WE HAVE HYBRIDS AT ALL!!!!

        Please note: This is sarcasm, a joke, I was just kidding!

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          Obama, and the Clintons, actually had Ford Escape or Mercury Mariner Hybrids.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I didn’t know that about the President, but I’m doubtful on the Clintons simply because they would have to travel in vehicles with threat protection even in the mid 2000s. Maybe some photo ops in one but I don’t see it as regular transportation in their motorpool.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            Obama also had a Chrysler 300C until he was called out on it.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I even said good morning to VoGo!!!

      Then I kicked my cat.

  • avatar
    mason

    Do vehicle manufacturers share the same battery supplier?

    Interesting to see such a broad range in failure rates between the manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      No, but the variation in failure rates seems to be primarily due to thermal control (or lack thereof) and the charge cycling algorithms the manufacturers chose.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    For everyone else, I think that if these batteries are lasting 15 years and beyond, then the technology has proven itself worthy. As we’ve had multiple discussions in the past, most cars don’t make it that far unless they’re coddled by their owners or hooned into rolling wrecks.

    For myself, I live in a part of the country that always has just about the lowest gas prices, so for me a hybrid just isn’t necessary. $1.80 a gallon for 87 octane as we speak, and with US production up and fleet MPG’s going up, I think lowish gas prices will persist for some time.

    As for turbos, I only recently obtained my first turbo charged car, and my impression of it is that it’s a little like having my cake and eating it too. The car’s not crazy fast, but it’s certainly not slow. The 8-speed auto and the engine are pretty much in perfect harmony, and on the interstate, when she’s already turning between 1,500 and 2,000 rpms, I can just roll on the power and scoot in a way that reminds me of a much more powerful car (and I’ve driven a handful). Never get less than 30 mpg out of a tank, so I don’t care a wit that it requires premium fuel. Only annoyance is some slight lag from a stoplight, but I’ve learned to mitigate that some with how I roll on the throttle.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      An 8 speed auto that gets 30 mpg highway, hooked to a “not crazy fast” turbo engine? I’m going to guess a small luxury car. Possibly Audi A4/A5, Lexus IS200t, BMW 2/3/4, or Benz C300.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “These cells are most likely to lose battery life if they are fully charged or discharged, so manufacturers came up with safeguards that force the batteries to only use 60 to 70 percent of their rated capacity.”

    You can guess which company doesn’t do this. (Its name rhymes with Tesla.)

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      how do you know this?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The default charge for Tesla is 90%, and you can manually override it and charge it even more if you wish.

        It’s not as if Tesla has magic batteries that no one else has. Tesla gets that range by providing a large battery pack (at a loss) and by encouraging the customer to overuse it.

        It’s funny. Initially, Tesla offered a 40 kWh Model S with a claimed range of 160 miles. Meanwhile, the Toyota RAV4 EV with a 42 kWh Tesla drivetrain had a range of only 103 miles, even though it weighed less.

        People should ask themselves what happened. Are Toyota engineers such morons that they couldn’t figure out how to do better, or is there some gamesmanship at work at the less experienced, all-EV automaker?

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The fact is that Toyota and Ford do charge their traction battery to a 90% SOC and they do it at least once every time the vehicle is subject to a start from a cold soak. Once a Hybrid starts its engine it will not shut off until it meets a min operating temp, where it exits the warm up enrichment and high idle strategy. That includes continuing to idle even if the vehicle is at a stop. That excess energy generated from keeping the engine on when it is otherwise not needed is directed to the battery along with any regen braking. So it is normal for at least the first start of the day to cause the battery to be charged to that ~90% mark.

          They use up to ~70% of the packs capacity. IE they will if appropriate let it discharge to 20%. Though discharging below ~30% is not a common operating scenario.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            The most common information on the Escape Hybrid’s battery pack is that it is limited to between 40% and 63% of a full charge. Occasionally it does a ‘conditioning’cycle to a higher charge, but it doesn’t do this every time it’s driven. In 3+years with the Escape Hybrid, I’ve never noticed this cycle.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Brand loyalty, Yes Ford’s target SOC is that 40-60% range during normal driving. Once the ICE is up to temp that is where you will see the battery gauge holding most of the time. However if you look at that gauge when you have done a true cold start you’ll often see it peg before the engine shuts down. That full battery gauge indicates a ~90% SOC. If you are pulling a long hill or if you are good about invoking EV operation you will see it dip to that 30% or even 20% range.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Scoutdude, I watch the charge indicator carefully, and it never goes near either end of the scale. In any case, it is a power flow indicator on the Escape Hybrid, not a battery charge level indicator. The few FEH’s with the nav unit would display the latter, but mine does not have the nav option.

            I have used a bluetooth ODBII gizmo with the Hobdrive diagnostics app on my smartphone. Hobdrive displays paramaters such as hybrid battery SOC (state of charge) and I’ve never seen SOC outside 40%-63%.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          The “40kWh” Tesla actually had a 60kWh battery, it was just software limited. So you could “overcharge” it to 100% of “capacity” to your heart’s content without damage. That’s why it had longer range than the 40kWh Toyota (which did ~100 miles in standard mode or ~130 miles in overcharge mode).

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Due to their sole reliance on battery power, EVs aren’t as conservative with deep cycling and filling.

      The 11-14 (I think) Leaf recommended 80% filling, but Nissan abandoned that and more recently set the charging to 100% by default.

      I wasn’t aware of Tesla normally going to 90%, but they’re not the only ones to go beyond what a hybrid battery should do.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Due to their sole reliance on battery power, EVs aren’t as conservative with deep cycling and filling.”

        Well, they don’t have much choice but to oversell it, since being honest about the lack of range would only scare away customers.

        I suppose that Tesla is betting on the fact that most of its customers won’t drive far enough to deep-discharge the battery, so day-to-day ownership won’t pose an issue for most people during the first several years of ownership.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Is it really any different than any other high performance option? You trade performance for durability.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s similar to the Autopilot issue: Tesla wants to claim that it is a fantastic, innovative, cutting-edge firm, but the reality of it is that Tesla is willing to expose the customer to levels of failure that other automakers will not, then either blame the customer or else ignore the failure when things don’t work out.

            Toyota’s brand is built on reliability, so it will generally err on the side of reliability. Tesla is more concerned about hyping itself, and that necessarily comes at some customers’ expense.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      The carmaker will not allow the driver to put the battery in a condition that it considers damaging, at least during normal use. For example, let’s say that the manufacturer decides that the battery pack is to operate between 90 percent and 20 percent of its rated capacity. When you tell the car to fully charge the battery, the battery management system will charge the cells to the 90 percent level, not to the 100 percent level. The same is true when discharging the battery, once you get to the lower level, the car considers the battery pack to be completely discharged and it will stop.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Well, I’m sure that every automaker can rationalize whatever product choices that it makes.

        That isn’t the issue. The issue is why Tesla’s choices invariably veer toward the aggressive end of the spectrum.

        Let’s remember that this is the company that claimed to have received a 5.4 star crash rating for the Model S, even though no such rating exists. No other automaker would have such hubris that it would lie about something that (a) involves a government rating and (b) can be exposed as a lie with about ten seconds of Googling. (At the very least, have the good sense to lie about something that is difficult to disprove.)

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          I’m pretty sure that the reason for the 80%-20% “rule” is that the voltage modules of the battery have a multitude of series-connected cells. (These “voltage modules” are then connected in parallel to raise the amperage rating.) Since the cells cannot be manufactured identically, some allowance has to be made for cells that have differing capacities – therefore, the further you are from 100% or 0% for the whole pack, the less likely that you’ll have an individual cell reaching the damage level of 0%-100%. A damaged cell inhibits the operation of the entire pack (possibly disabling it if no bypass mechanism exists for a “limp-home” capability).

          This also allows less-than-perfectly matched cells to be used in a pack, which is more economical, and allows the cells to be “mixed” to achieve the pack’s rated capacity.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Batteries naturally degrade over time even if used properly, but there are three things that one should not do with a lithium-ion battery: top it up, deep discharge it, and rapid charge it.

            Wouldn’t you know it, but Tesla’s range claims and Supercharger network are predicated on doing ***all*** of those things.

          • 0 avatar

            pch it depends on the definitions of those 3 items. Lithium depending on chemistry tends to have a better usable capacity. Usually 70-80 percent which is slightly better then nickle cells and way better then old lead acid which was closer to 50 percent. The charge rates are also higher but pushing them has issues.charging the last few percent on large packs does appear bad and current research seems to suggest staying out of the last 3-5 percent at least on large traction packs. This is the opposite of what is good on old lead acid. One of the issues in a large pack is battery balance between cells, lithium is very sensitive to this so in order to do high speed charging and using the most capacity you need very good cell level balancing. I was figuring Tesla would fail here and I believe some of the roadsters did fail because of it but the model s seems to manage the battery fairly well but a lot maybe people not using the full range. Time well tell.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The 2013 Plugin America survey of Roadster owners found that 19% of cars required at least some battery pack replacement.

            Consumer Reports has found the Model S to be below average in reliability, with drivetrain and battery cooling pump issues being among the problems.

            It’s pretty obvious why Tesla doesn’t manage its battery pack conservatively — doing so would reduce the range.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah I have heard about the power train modules etc. But I haven’t heard much about battery failures on the S , roadster yes but not the S not yet at least. I’m actually really surprised if someone knows of one I would like to read about it.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Give me a small displacement turbo any day over a hybrid. If Volvo can do it, why can’t others?

    PS. I own a XC70 with over 200K and the turbo is still going strong.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    There’s a security company in the US called Bayer. They have a 2008 Escape Hybrid with over 500,000 miles on it. It has the original battery, and seems to get the same mileage as when new.

    Ford Escape Hybrid owner forums do not have reports of reliability, performance or starting issues from owners in cold climates.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    A couple of key things to note is the Toyota says “replaced out of warranty”. The fact is there was a silent service action for the first generation Prius because the cells were prone to leaking. If it wasn’t bad and they caught it early enough the procedure was to remove the pack disassemble it and seal the individual cells. In certain cases they replaced the pack. If you had one of those cars and took it to the dealer for regular service they would have done it to your vehicle and never told you. Now if you never took it to the dealer and the pack failed because of the leakage it is highly likely that you got a new battery pack from Toyota even if you were past the warranty period.

    The other thing to consider is that a cottage industry quickly popped up to provide “reconditioned” and “rebuilt” battery packs. Dorman quickly joined those ranks. So how many were replaced out of warranty that Toyota doesn’t know about.

    Now the Escape took a little longer but it too now has aftermarket batteries available.

    All of that said other than Toyota’s first generation the Hybrid battery packs are very reliable and will usually last the life of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      “If you had one of those cars and took it to the dealer for regular service they would have done it to your vehicle and never told you.”

      So you’re saying that when a customer walks in for routine service, lets say an oil change and the car isn’t done hours later, they aren’t going to tell the customer that they’re messing with the battery pack?

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Given that asking prices for used Escape Hybrid batteries on Ebay are around $700,with few being bought, suggests the supply from wrecked Escape Hybrids exceeds the need for them.

      I’m willing to bet the hybrid battery reconditioning businesses are not very busy.

      The few failed batteries contain valuable materials that can be recycled. But so few fail that hybrid car battery recycling facilities never got established. The batteries contain numerous standard “flashlight”cells, so they can go through the normal recovery channels.

    • 0 avatar
      kit4

      I always love when people spout off conspiracy nonsense like this. Under no circumstance is anyone allowed to legally do work on your car that you do not sign off on. You can’t go in for an oil change and have the company then do recall work under the table.

    • 0 avatar
      jadziasman

      And there is the DIY crowd who repair their HV batteries by replacing failed modules (Prius/Camry/Highlander) or sticks (Civic/Insight). Toyota and Honda have no way of knowing how many hybrids are on the road with HV batteries which have failed and then been resurrected.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        I’ve reviewed a YouTube video of replacing bad cells in an Escape Hybrid’s battery pack. I doubt a significant number of people are attempting this. Where there may be some traffic is with the businesses that offer to do this.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Could we have a voluntary list below of those who have in the past claimed hybrid battery packs are failure-prone, and who will no longer post such.

    The problem with these myths is that no matter how compelling the evidence to the contrary, some will persist in posting the myths. That some find this article is an eye-opener, when there has been for many years plenty of proof of the longevity of most hybrid batteries, is evidence of, at best, carelessness.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Myths die hard. See the ‘recycling is terrible’ rants above.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        OK.
        So, I am trying not to kick the cat again.
        But cn you point out the ‘recycling is terrible’ rants above?????

        See…I think you are, like HotPotato, a cat hater and am hoping I eventually kill it.

        Otherwise why would you join him in the TT bashing?

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    It’s a funny little dilemma: letting Toyota make the first high-volume hybrid meant that we’d all associate hybrids with being terrible to drive – mostly because it was a Toyota. But it also meant that the first successful hybrid would be reliable and practical. Was that a good tradeoff for hybrids? Probably, but it made them more divisive than they ever needed to be.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I’ve test driven about 5 Prius’ and while obviously they’re not sports cars, there’s nothing in particular wrong with how they perform. “Appliance car” snobbery is another form of arrogance this site would benefit from being free from.

  • avatar

    I have been looking at hybrids lately as early versions are falling to cheap car prices 3000$. The Toyotas have few problems the Hondas as mentioned much more. I haven’t looked at GM yet as I haven’t seen one come for sale locally. I really like the escape hybrid and the battery seems well done but I keep reading reports of 4000$ brake module failure combined with past Ford experiences I just can’t pull the trigger.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      The hybrid systems on my Escape Hybrid have been reliable, but non-hybrid components have failed at a disappointing rate that would point to a cheap build. I may have a bad one, since truedelta average reliability ratings for the Escape are better than what I’m experiencing. While unhappy with the build quality, and having scorned Escapes before I bought one (the only smallish hybrid awd suv available at the time), I’ve come to appreciate the design. The mileage is just plain excellent. I frequent a couple of Escape Hybrid forums, and don’t recall seeing the brake module failure you mentioned. Where is this being reported?

      If you want a $3000 Escape Hybrid, you’re looking at an early year of their 2005-2012 model run. Expect to deal with some standard issues and join the FEH forums for guidance on those issues.

      Early Prius’ should be extremely reliable. Personally I wouldn’t touch an aging GM hybrid. They don’t have full hybrid systems anyway, unlike the Prius and Escape that have full hybrid systems.

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