Behind the Hidden Costs of Hybrids

One journalist after the next purports the same point about hybrid gas-electric cars: they are not worth the extra cost. The writers’ lack of originality is only surpassed by their inability to get all the facts. When they proclaim that the extra cost of buying a hybrid will not be recouped in savings at the pump—as if they were the first person, rather than the thousandth, to "discover" a nefarious plot against American car buyers—the writer usually fails to consider tax credits, reduced maintenance, and historically excellent resale value. But nothing conjures up more fear and hysteria than these two words: hidden costs.

In June 2005, the L.A. Times reported that hybrid battery replacement costs dropped from $10,000 in 2001 to about $3,000 today. But three months later, Car and Driver‘s Brock Yates—no fan of hybrids—wrote, "battery replacement will cost $5,300 for the Toyota and Lexus hybrids, and the Ford Escape replacements run a whopping $7,200." Yates compared hybrid’s rechargeable batteries to the "dry cells in your flashlight…[which] have finite lives and store less power with age." He also insinuated some kind of cover-up, writing that "industry types are not talking about total battery life."

They’re talking—but Brock’s not listening. Jim Francfort, principal investigator at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, which is operated for the Department of Energy, has been talking about it. His hybrid battery tests showed that 160,000 miles of use had no effect on fuel economy. Andrew Grant, the Vancouver, Canada, taxi driver who drove his Prius for more than 200,000 miles in 25 months, tells all about his Prius, which has taken a pummeling and kept on humming. At industry conferences, engineer after engineer will tell anybody who bothers to ask that hybrid batteries are, in fact, over-manufactured for their task.

The Plot Thickens

The one item that nobody has been talking about is the replacement costs for batteries—because nobody is replacing them. That’s what I thought until I received an email from Ray Molton, who works in the real estate industry in Houston, Texas. Ray wrote, "My 2001 Toyota Prius lasted five years and 113,000 miles. And then the batteries seemed to die. My dealer estimated the replacement cost at $7,000. They recommended scrapping the car for parts."

Ray told me that Toyota had been "no help whatsoever on this issue." He called another dealer only to discover a larger estimate of $8,000 to $9,000. Even worse, Ray discovered that the Toyota shop had another 2001 Prius with a bad battery. Maybe there is a conspiracy brewing, after all. In a follow-up email, Ray wrote, "Toyota doesn’t want these battery issues to get out to the public. How could there be two 2001 Priuses in the same shop at the same time, if they have had no problems with the batteries?"

To make matters worse, Ray bought a salvage Prius battery to soften the damage to his pocketbook—only to discover that the salvage battery’s #13 cell was corroded, the same #13 cell that had a problem on his Prius.

All of this threw me for a loop. Apparently, it had the same effect on Toyota.

Ray continued to appeal to Toyota’s corporate offices, and finally got through to a customer care representative who promised to look at the Ray’s expenses. He persisted at the local level, and finally got Metroplex Toyota in Houston to clean the corrosive cell on the salvage battery and install it—at half their normal price—in his Prius. The total bill, including rental car, salvage battery, service, and gasoline during the entire ordeal, was $1,345. Ray’s Prius runs like a top again.

One month and three unreturned phone calls later, Ray gave up on getting any financial or emotional support from Toyota’s Customer Care Department.

Making the Connection?

I shared Ray’s story with my friend, Craig Van Batenburg, a master hybrid technician who conducts workshops with independent service shops around the country. "This is exactly why I am training indy techs to work on these cars," Craig said. "It is not a problem with the nickel metal hydride cells, but a corroded connection. This is common with any electrical connector on any part of any car. The dealerships don’t fix the connections. They replace the entire hybrid battery."

So Ray’s ordeal wasn’t caused by a failure of new hybrid battery technology—those batteries will last the life of the vehicle and will help save hundreds of gallons of gasoline for their owners. And the next generation of lithium ion batteries may be one of the keys to weaning America off its dependence on oil. The root of Ray’s problems stemmed from an ordinary corroded connection, the failure of a huge corporation to respond to one of their customers, and the willingness of a local car dealership to profit handsomely from a problem rather than fix it at a reasonable cost. Unfortunately, these stories are just as hidden in the media as all of those so-called “hidden costs” of owning a hybrid.


  • serf

    I like everything you have to say, it all sounds legitimate. I want to help the environment, I want to buy a hybrid car, but I am still not convinced. I would like to know how much making a battery taxes the environment, if the complete cost of the hybrid, minus gas prices and tax breaks and battery replacement after 8-10 years, really makes it a better deal.

  • Gary

    I can’t find any corroborating information so don’t know if this is unique, but I have a 2006 Prius that I use to commute 120 miles round trip to work and home. It has 55K miles and the battery pack had to be replaced. The tech says a short in one of the in-line connections. The dealer provided me with a 2007 Prius loaner and replaced the pack under the new car warranty which he said was 120K miles or 10 years. He did indicated that the replacement cost was approximately $7,000. Anyone else had this problem?

  • Michael Travaline

    Battery replacement costs would exceed my current vehicle maintenance and gas consumption cost for my transportation requirements as a senior citizen. I would not consider replacing my 1991 olds with a Hybrid; although I would gladly consider an economical total electric vehicle (even though it’s size would likely compact in comparison – car manufacturers continue to decease the interior space of cars) should they ever be manufactured and retailed to the public.

  • Thomas N

    We just looked at a Prius (End Oct. 07) and I asked, how long the battery would be good for. I was told 8 years or 100,000 miles. Then I asked for replacement cost. Nobody even did know that answer, but they went to the technical department to find out. The answer was $8,000 – and this came from a sales person that wanted to sell me a car that would cost me between $25K-$30K. Don’t forget that the major monthly cost will be your car payment! You could drive a full loaded Saturn Aura Sedan with a combined 25mpg for $211/month. With gas for 1000 miles you would pay a total of $323. The Prius would only cost us only half the gas ($56 instead of $112) but the best advertised lease in the country for a Prius is $319. So with the gas the Prius would cost a total of $375 a month. Just over 1200miles a month the total cost for both cars are the same – but – the Saturn Sedan is still a much nicer car! It is the same old consideration like buying a Diesel car. Do I drive enought to justify the more expensive car? But at least we all know, that the Diesel Engine will outlast all the other engines by many miles while the Hybrid has a definite deadline somewhen…

  • Leo Chen

    83,000 miles into the Honda Civic Hybrid, I learned that the replacement cost of the battery pack was $5,000. BTW, it took the Honda Service Writer quite a while to find that info — apparently, it’s not readily available even to Honda service technicians. Also, I asked if they ever had a problem with the battery pack, and the service tech said, to his credit, yes — there was a hybrid where the computer read out went haywire on the battery pack. And they replaced it.

    Fortunately, my Civic’s battery pack is fine — (knock on wood). I’m glad to have learned that often the problem is with an electrical connection. Now I need to learn how to spot the problem and then how to fix/replace the connection.

    Finally, you may have a recourse if your battery pack fails. A battery pack failure will, of course, affect the amount of exhaust pollutants coming out of your tail pipe per mile — it will increase it, thereby violating exhaust emissions standards. You may want to research that and see if you can somehow use that to get a free replacement battery pack.

  • Robert Ziemer

    I cant find any place on the internet offering these indiividual cells forsale

  • Stephenski

    Metroplex Toyota is in Dallas, not Houston. If you got that wrong, what about the other “Facts” in your article?

  • NK

    Let’s just play the numbers via a spreedsheet:
    GP = Pontiac Grand Prix 28mpg. Prius 46mpg. Gas price fixed to $3.00. No inflation factor. Miles shown top row. Battery replacement cost RH column. The body shows cost for the miles and battery replacement costs

    150,000 200,000 250,000 Batt Repl. Cost
    GP $16,071 $21,429 $26,786
    Prius $12,783 $16,043 $19,304 $3,000
    Prius $14,783 $18,043 $21,304 $5,000
    Prius $17,783 $21,043 $24,304 $8,000

    Now all you need is a crystal ball to forecast gas price increases (20% per year?) and battery replacement costs.

    Nick

  • Debbie

    I’m trying to decide whether or not to get a honda civic or a honda civic hybrid. The battery thing has me not sure what to do. I currently own a mazda 6 6 cylinder which gets a bout 23-24 mpg.

  • Jim Wirth – Ujean Orygun

    We have a 2005 Prius with over 50k on it and we are averaging 40 mpg in the winter and
    48 in the spring and about 51 in the summer. With gas approaching $4.00 a gallon, it was
    one of the best impulse purchases I have ever made. I drive it regularly to Seattle and San
    Francisco, and as a long haul vehicle it is awesome. It weighs about 3500 #s and is solid
    like a Cadillac and when you accelerate from 60 to 100 ( like I have done in Nevada
    passing long strings of cars and semi-trucks ) I was very surprised how quick it got up
    there and it was awesome. Maybe not a Lamberginie, but then again, I did not pay
    $150,000 either. If I can scrape up the money, I will definitely buy another Prius. Right
    now the economy sucks and so does my income, and paying $3.79 a gallon hurts, but not
    as much as driving my 98′ S10 Chevy Pickup that gets only 18 mpg. As for the batteries,
    they are expected to last the life of the car (200k – 300k) because they do not discharge
    fully and recharge, which is the big problem with all other batteries. The cost then will be
    probably around $2,000, and gas could be $6.00 a gallon. the rate it is going up now.
    The NIMHI battery will probably be around for a long as the lighter Lith bats tend to
    catch fire.

  • abbyschult

    I just bought a 2003 toyota prius with 101,250 miles on it. I drove it from GA to st. louis and when I got home the car button with the horizontal exclamation point was flashing. We think it’s the battery light. We are scared we will have to try replacing the battery. Any ideas would be appreciated.

  • DDC

    Just wanted to add something here. I just got a new 2007 Altima Hybrid (same hybrid system as the Camry, I believe), and just over 2 months and 2500 miles into it, one of the cells went bad. This supposedly drained the 12V battery overnight, so I was unable to start the car. I’ve been told that it will be 3-4 business days for the Nissan dealer to get a replacement. This is being replaced under warranty, and the dealer is providing a rental for the duration, but thought I’d throw my experience in.

  • Dennis Widner

    Well I hate to rain on your parade, but I just got a quote on a battery replacement for a 2003 Honda Insight with 150,000 miles.

    Try $6312.70 !!!!!!!

    The battery (refurbished) replaced and 2 control modules plus labor.

    What they fail to tell you is that the IMA battery weakens with age. Performance is slipping on my Insight. My 2003 is in self recharge most of the time. Unless there is an error light on in your dash, Honda won’t do anything.

    I do not see where hybrids are cost effective and I own 3 of them. For That kinda of money I can buy 1500 gallons of gasoline at $4 a gallon. I am really miffed because I was told around $1500 to replace the battery when I bought it. Who wants to invest that kind of money when the car is 5 to 10 years old. The battery replacement is worth more than the car. I was once a hybrid man but they are a scam….I am trading in the 3 I have.

  • Crow Magnum

    Sucker

  • S

    This question prevented me from a Hybrid purchase mainly because I was looking for a car to keep for 10+ years. If I wanted the hybrid I would have leased.

    Right now lease rates & resale for used hybrids are good but I wonder how long this will last if battery replacment becomes a common problem. I looks like buying a used hybrid is a big risk at the premiums they cost.

  • The JerseyTrainer

    I do a lot of driving for work, wo I was considering getting a Hybrid. But I am now having seconf thoughts since the battery life is guaranteed to have to be replaced within 5-6 years. The Hybrid has really taken off in the past couple of years and every car company is now in the works with new technology. I think what we need to do as consumers is demand longer lasting/cheaper batteries. Dont just impulse-buy. Make your voice heard ans tell those car companies that the only way you will buy their product is if they impove it. a $5000 batter after 5 years? It’s 2008 and we don’t have to stand for it.

  • Sparrow

    The end result of what is happening here is that people that really want to invest in hybrids will begin to stay away … especially to purchase used hybrids that will be at or near the end of the batteries’ life-cycle; because it is a very risky and potentially expensive purchase.

    I fit this category and will now no longer consider a hybrid as a used car investment – just doesn’t make any sense. Even makes me wonder if it makes sense as a new car investment because eventually the potential buyers will dwindle in number as the “word” gets out … unless the battery prices head south in a big way … which probably won’t happen.

    What really needs to happen is that instead of us [the consumer] subsidizing Toyota’s [and other manufacturers'] R&D … they need to buy back their “bad” batteries and subsidize an exchange program where the consumer [any owner of a hybrid - original owner or future owner] only has to pay $1000 to replace the batteries if that is indeed the problem [or guarantee the batteries and electrical components for 500,000 miles with no exceptions - period!].

    The manufacturers also need to subsidize troubleshooting all electrical connections/battery connection & contact problems at a cap of $50 per service call with a maximum of $250 total cost for 500,000 miles regardless of how many owner. It puts the responsibility on the manufacturer to make this technology work!

    Why do we, the consumer, have to assume the risk and R&D for this newer technology and its obscene cost to replace it. It is absurd! The manufacturers needs to step up to the plate!

    We should be driving around with photovoltaic enabled vehicles [to run our car stereos, lights, and a/c's]. These vehicles need to have LED brake lights and turn-signals, and use compressed-air to power our cars – http://www.theaircar.com/ and build smaller more fuel efficient vehicles like the Nano – http://tatanano.inservices.tatamotors.com/tatamotors/.

    GM could turn the Janesville, Wisconsin facility into an Air Car facility …. and give people jobs …. instead of producing SUV’s and trucks … that we do not need.

    I’ve changed over to CFL’s in my house and even have some LED’s too to minimize my family’s electrical consumption. But going “green” with car technology – no way! It is time for the car companies to start producing vehicles that make sense and work for us ,and, to not hold us at ransom!

    Just my 2-C’s.

  • Pistl

    I am driving my second 1989 Accord on my 70-mile each way commute. My first had 309 Kmiles on it when I found my current one. This one now has 226 Kmiles, almost all trouble-free. I asked my Honda mechanic about hybrids as I would love to get the 50-70 mpg I’ve been hearing about. He set me straight. He said the replacement costs of the batteries is approx. $5000. He says he sees them at auctions sitting around needing new batteries and they have almost no resale value. I’m sticking with my good old standard Hondas. Did I mention I drive my little car cruising at 70-75 MPH and am getting 32 mpg?

  • Mak Rider

    These battery issues seem to be a real problem. I have been doing some research on Hybrids so I can make a decision on a future purchase. The one thing I found quite amusing was the posts that refer to the Salesman not knowing anything about the cost to replace these batteries. I think that is hogwash. That should be the first indicator that something is drastically wrong. They just refuse to divulge this information because it will hinder their ability to sell these vehicles. No moral or value issues for them. It also seems that there is a correlation between the cost of gasoline and batteries. They are both very high and the price is very unstable. It’s as if these hybrid cars are nothing more than a disposable lighter. When the battery runs out, throw it away. As stated earlier, who wants to pay 5,000-7,000 on a 6-8 year old vehicle unless it is some sort of show car. I don’t think these qualify. The post also indicated that the resale values were good. I bet there is a direct relationship to the age of the battery. If the battery has not been changed, I’ll bet a car dealer will not give you much of anything for it and tell you it’s because the age of the battery and the high expense to replace it. Remember, this is the salesman who told you he had no idea what the cost was to replace the battery. I really need to do the research and find out who really is making these batteries and why the cost is still so high. The old rule of supply and demand may not apply here. With my luck, the hidden owners of the hybrid battery industry are probably the same companies who we depend on for overseas oil. How ironic would that be???????? Buyer, be truly aware!

  • jerseytrainer

    I just got news that replacement hybrid batteries have come down in price. Apparently with labor, you shouldnt pay more than $3,000. This is a good sign and since by 2009/2010 during the hybrid boom, im sure they will come down again. The 2008 versions are stating at least 150,000m before the avg replacement.
    Dont forget, the avg hybrid doesnt usually need anything else. so if you have to spend just $3,000 after 8 years, thats not soo bad. think of the amount of money that you put into a regular car that has 3x the moviing parts

  • Bob444

    I just looked at buying a hybrid escape/mariner/tribute. Several dealers said they didn’t know how much the battery packs cost or how long that last (you don’t know? sign me up!). One said they had just replaced a battery pack on an escape with about 120,000 miles on it and it cost just over 7K. They (salespeople) got a good laugh out of it and said that the only way they could see buying a hybrid was if you were trying to reduce your ‘carbon footprint’ because when you factor in battery price it just didn’t make sense – especially if you do much highway driving – but even then the battery is not exactly ‘green’. Hybrids are a rather stupid idea if you ask me but then I think that many of the people buying these cars are buying then to ‘feel’ like they are ‘green’ when the facts are something different. Kind of like much of the ‘green’ movement.

  • Jason Kaeni

    hello
    the first two cylinder engine that i remember was Citroen from France i had one of them in Iran 1970, looks like the car that you are making going to be very interesting car, i hope i can get one in here USA soon, i wish you success.
    jason

  • Jocull

    Folks let’s not forget the other advantage of hybrids. Yes, they get great gas mileage, some better than others, but nonetheless good. The other benefit is less carbon monoxide into the environment. I realize that money is the driving force by which 99.9% of us live so the high cost of a hybrid and the threat of paying 3-8K for a replacement battery sucks. I am no environmentalist by any means but i will get onto my soap box for a second. The environment is taking a huge hit every year because of pollution. The cars you and I drive everyday are a large part of that polluiton. There are species of plants and animals that may very well be an integral part of the ecosystem that are paying the ultimate price for human habits. Hybrids are not perfect. Will they get cheaper? Who knows, i hope so. I would like to see oil go away permanently in favor of a cleaner and more efficient solution. I don’t own a hybrid and i don’t know if and when i will but i do know that every little bit helps when it comes to reducing pollution. With gas prices threatening to hit $6 by the end of the summer, I think people are going to start to change their tune about hybrids regardless of battery replacement costs after 7 or 8 years. I will climb down from my box now and shield myself from all of the E-daggers that are sure to come my way. Later.

    John

  • paul333

    I bought a 3000$ used taurus that gets 25mpg. The environmental impact of using this “recycled” car versus a 30,000$ new hybrid or even a 18,000$ “recycled” hybrid is much less. This is especially true if you equate each dollar spent with some amount of natural resources.

    Live simply.

    Why do we need a hybrid anyway? Why cant we just get a smaller engine? The base engine on most new cars puts out more than enough HP’s, more than we really need for daily commutes etc. Why cant we pressure companies to not only offer the option of a larger engine but also the option of a smaller engine?

  • Whuttt????

    “Gas price fixed to $3.00″

    Heh, can you tell me where I can get in on some of that $3.00 gas???

    All kidding aside, it seems like a curious assumption to use for budgeting. I realize this post was from 9 weeks ago, that would make it March 2008, but even then $3.00 gas would have been a bargain!

  • Whuttt????

    Sparrow says:
    1 week ago
    “unless the battery prices head south in a big way … which probably won’t happen.”

    I think they probably will.

    For all the older kiddies out there, do you remember the advent of front wheel drive cars in the 80′s? One of the enabling technologies was the constant velocity joint. There’s a rubber boot covering the joint that was prone to ripping open, ruining the joint. Changing the boot was $$, replacing the joint itself was $$$$.

    Fast forward to the 90′s, where front wheel drives are all over the road. Boot replacement? $25. Replace the joint? $89. Today, I never even hear about the cost of boots or joints anymore. Maybe it is free with oil change? :)

    If hybrids become popular, there will be price competition to lower the cost of expensive repairs. Some would argue that hybrids are already popular; Toyota announced that they have just sold their 1,000,000th Prius. So if the car mfgs are all lying about the batteries lasting the life of the vehicles, there will be plenty of competition bringing down the cost of battery replacement. Or better yet, battery repair.

  • Chuck

    I drive a 2002 VW TDI turbocharged diesel that gets 46 mpg in town and 53 mpg on the highway. My cost for fuel at these high prices is 8 cents per mile. I expect the engine to last at least 500,000 miles, and have 145K miles on the engine now.

    To compare costs of driving, one really should look at the total costs of car ownership, which includes repairs, parts, fuel, and complete car replacement. My Jetta will last as long as 2 or 3 hybrid cars. Yes, it is true that diesel fuel has a certain particulate emission, but it is getting cleaner with Ultra Low Sulpher, and I have no visible exhaust smoke.

    Since my Jetta will last at least as long as two hybrids, the pollution costs to produce the Jetta must be compared to the pollution costs to produce the two hybrids. Pollution to the environment must be looked at in its totality if one wants to be accurate. My Jetta will be the least expensive car to own and drive for the long haul when compared to any hybrid.

  • Chuck

    Pontiac Grand Prix vs Batteries
    Cost of Gas is going up more than 20% per year.
    At least for now.
    It’s at $4.00 in our area of PA.

    Cost of batteries is going down.
    My Camry Hybrid is a 2008, and guarantee on the batteries is for 10 years.
    By 2018, when Florida is under water, batteries should cost around $2000 or less.
    Batteries are like computers, they are getting, Faster, Cheaper, Faster, Cheaper, Faster, etc..
    all the time.
    I’m sleeping happy.

  • Bobe71

    I’ll just stick with my 4 cyl Camry and 34 mpg. I know of several of these vehicles that have over 250K miles that still run fine with little mtce. My battery replacement will cost about $55 at WalMart – which I will be happy to pay.

  • Frank C.

    Has anyone who’s throwing up the “tree hugging” flag thought about how damaging all these batteries are going to be for the planet?

  • Brendan

    I have thought about that, and I’ve only been able to find very conflicting information available online. Per Toyota, the prius batteries are 100% recyclable, and Toyota will even pay $200 for each old battery to ensure that it does get recycled. Another site I found indicated that NiMh batteries were in the “cleaner” column as batteries go, and that they were at least a step up from NiCad or other batteries that contain toxic materials (mercury, lead, cadmium).

    But I still hear quite a bit from users such as yourself (Frank C.) about the environmental impact of the batteries. Does that mean the impact of mining the Nickel used to make the battery? I can’t find good information on how destructive that is, but I can’t imagine that any mining is going to be good for the environment.

    Could somebody expand on the battery fears? Not the battery life, but the overall environmental impact that is more/less than traditional batteries.

  • Cal

    A well-engineered, fuel injected car with 4 cylinder engine can get 30-35 mpg. Why pay an extra $7-10k and risk a $5000 battery replacement? for an extra 6 or 7 mpg’s? Don’t forget the polution caused by battery manufacture and disposal (lot’s of heavy metals)!!! These cars are not a ‘green’ as they would like you to believe…

  • cal

    there are a couple of factors on battery recycling–first, although the battery is recycled, the the metals must be decontaminated and restored to their orginal makeup–these contaminants must be desposed of. Also, recycled metal does not perform as well as ‘virgin’ metal. Also, the batteries are much much bigger than normal car batteries, which means more contaminants per car.

  • Michael A.

    I wouldn’t count on battery replacement costs going down. While manufacturing volume can bring costs down, commodity prices for precious metals have been soaring. Also I have seen no decrease in battery costs for laptop computers lately, or even plain old alkaline batteries for that matter, yet they have been making those for years. By the time you replace your batteries, the car will have been out of production for years, which means the manufacturing volume price reduction factor will diminish. Ni-MH batteries also have a limited shelf life, so the manufacturer can’t just stockpile them while they were in full production. So in 10 years, who knows what the price of the replacement batteries will be?

    People also fail to mention that the battery capacity goes down every time you use them. They slowly degrade until they are no longer usable. They don’t just “burn out” in one day. They just get worse and worse. In other words, they will never be better than the day you get them.

  • jb

    I think people need to do a little reality check on their fuel economy #’s. You can’t compare highway miles on a regular car to a Prius – if all you ever did was drive on the highway, the Prius and other hybrids are pretty useless. I could claim for example that my V6 240 hp Accord gets 31mpg (it does at 60mph on highway). But reality is it gets 20mpg or less in mixed driving in town. Which is where most people do all their driving. And forget “my computer says i got x mpg”. We are not scientists and we like to remember the best numbers of course but the Prius really does get mid 40s mpg in the city. And the “well engineered” 4 cylinder engines are getting 25mpg in the city. Where most people are driving. I know there is always an exception, someone out there getting 50mpg in their jetta TDI or Geo metro. But most hybrids, even hybrid SUVs get dramatically better mileage in the city when compared to their non hybrid cousins. And with gov’t tax incentives, they sometimes cost only $2-3K more than non-hybrid when new. My accord, which cost several thousand more new than a Prius, (before the tax credit from Oregon – so more like $6,000 more) gets half the fuel economy in town. That means in 12K miles per year, I’m paying an extra $1200 in gas vs the Prius (at $4/gallon). So not only was the Prius several thousand cheaper to buy, it saves $1200 a year in gas! Even if they were the same prices, or I had paid extra for the hybrid, I think the fuel cost would pay for itself in 3 or 4 years.

    But there’s the rub. If gas goes back to $2/gallon, the equation doesn’t look so good.

  • Old Tom

    Gasoline/diesel is fine. People just need to keep their foot off the floorboard. Fuel economy comes from sensible driving, in town as well as out. Doubt me? Just take a look around at how many drivers race from red light to red light and blast way through any speed limit on the freeways hugging each other’s bumpers at 80+ mph. Want to save money and maintenance costs? Slow down! Also, the same people beating the hybrid drum are the same ones who have gotten us into this fix by preventing new oil field development and construction of new refineries. Oh, and what about their fear mongering of nuclear power? I think what we really need is a hybrid environmentalist, you know, one with common sense.

  • Wiseghy

    There is another savings that most don’t count when it comes to hybrids.
    I have not gotten any tickets in the 5 years since I bought my Civic Hybrid. Something about the constant feedback on performance makes me drive slower. When you see the effects on performance, you “learn” to drive more efficiently. Despite the many speed traps in our area, the local cities won’t be getting money from me and my hybrid.

    Needless to say, this also impacts on insurance costs and hassle factors with traffic school.
    Folks who write off hybrids have no idea what they are missing. I will never buy another care without hybrid technology.

  • RebeccaJ

    Thank you John – no daggers! This is exactly what I was thinking as I read through this post. Pollution is a real problem for us now and for the future. How can you put a price tag on our future generation’s ability to breathe and enjoy life as we did as kids? The fact is as more of these cars are produced, the parts will get cheaper. That is a manufacturing fact. Some of the early adopters of this technology will potentially pay a higher price for repairs, but isn’t that how it is with all new technologies?

  • John Smith

    We have a 2003 Civic Hybrid we bought for what we thought was a great price. Now the IMA light comes on and the dealer says it it the battery pack.

    The information about corroded connections was very helpful and I’ll make sure they check that before I take the plunge.

    BUT, on a slightly more positive note, they quoted me only $2700 for the replacement with labor. Somehow I still don’t feel better.

  • b1ues

    I live in a hot summer climate. Are there any savings using a hybrid if the A/C is on contiuously?

  • seattle

    I have driven my Prius for 4 years ….. no problems, excellent mileage….. highway and residential. I have a rack and carry an eight foot Kayak up into the Cascades. Great Mileage …….. battery replacement? Faaa!

  • Manchester

    The battery problem is real. My 01 Prius with 158,000 miles has just been diagnosed with failing batteries; all at once with no warning; $3600 plus tax. As salvage the car has almost no value.
    I have been fortunate to have participated in testing two electric cars and now two hybrids. Toyota and my dealership have been great over the years, but the replacement will be a conventional gas.

  • Jersey TDI

    How does a hybrid have less moving parts? They have all the parts of a regular car in the internal combustion portion of the drivetrain, plus all the additional parts of the hybrid system.

  • Charles Peterson

    The 01-03 Prius has 2x the battery storage of the 04-08. Apparently Toyota engineers figured out how to achieve even better performance, and even better economy, with half the storage. And I’d also expect the 2004-2008 battery to cost less. I’ve heard numbers in the $2xxx range recently. I had an 01 Prius and now I have an 06 Prius, and I’m never going back to gas. My next car will have a plug, either PHEV or EV. But if I don’t buy a new car, I have no problem with a $2xxx or even $3xxx battery replacement every 150,000 miles. Some people spend 10x that much on customizations and upgrades. But all of a sudden, talk about saving the planet, even with virtually no personal sacrifice, and they can’t find their wallet. I think a lot of this can be explained as part of the meme of hyperindividualism.

    Come on, most cars have some sort of failure that requires 2xxx or more by 150,000 miles. Transmission, engine computer, cooling system, clutch, etc, etc. The amount of gas one has saved by 150,000 miles is far more than 2xxx.

    Compared to any other car I would have bought, Prius cost less, saves money on gas, and is far far cooler.

    Yes, the Prius has “fewer moving parts” in a major sense, and the parts that it does have are more robust and less stressed. There is no transmission in the usual sense, just a fixed planetary gearset. No torque converter. No clutch. Computers do the equivalent of a variable speed transmission electronicially, by regulating the operation of two electric motors, which like the gears should last nearly forever, on either side of the planetary gearset. Genius. The basic concept was patented in 1912, but it took computers to really make it sing. You just can’t make a gas car which moves so quietly and smoothly (though, part of the design effort was to make it “more like” a regular gas car, otherwise it would feel even more like an EV). When I have to drive a gas car, it’s feels barbaric.

    The thing I like most about Prius is the ever improving technology, including ramping up production for even batteries. Of all the ways I am saving the planet, or more correctly saving humanity, by buying Priuses, that one is probably the most important. Yeah, sure, I have a slightly smaller carbon footprint too, and I save a bit on gas, and the prius produces fewer noxious pollutants too. But the key thing is the motion, the changes produced by our actions. Are we moving backwards or forwards? Are we part of the problem, or part of the solution?

    Replacing the 20x larger battery pack on my 2015 EV will be interesting. But that car really does have fewer moving parts, and doesn’t need ANY service (except tire rotation) until that point.

  • atl

    When are we, the buying public, going to demand solar technology for our cars, as well as our homes, etc.? When are our elected officials going to make energy independence a mandate for our country?

    We should be harnessing the “free” energy provided by the sun every day. If the sun stops shining, then we have bigger problems than how to power our cars!

  • John Steel

    If they build it, you will buy.

  • alyssa

    does this mean that once you replace the battery the car will be as good as new?

  • David Stevens

    I drove my Prius from Logan UT to Salt Lake City and back yesterday at about 98 deg F with the A/C on, on the freeway and surface streets, including going over a 6500 ft pass from 4500 ft. When I got home, the mileage for the trip (I filled up when I left) was about 57 mpg – A/C on both ways at 60-80 mph.

  • Manchester

    I have no regrets regarding my hybrids, both 01 Prius, although one had lots of problems; $6,500 transmission, $1,600 catalytic converter, $3,600 battery etc. My dealer told me today that a Toyota bulletin released this week reduced the price of a new battery pack by several hundred dollars.
    And I am also pleased with the resale value. Today I attended a wholesale auto aution and saw an 06 Prius with 48,000 miles sell to a dealer for $22,500 plus auction fees and taxes.
    Over the last 11 years I leased 2 electric cars, purchased two hybrids and have enjoyed the ride. But I will have to tell you that the hybrid maintainence (after warranty) is much greater than I expected. While the resale market is strong I am going to sell and watch from the sidelines.
    I am getting old, but I hope I live long enough to see plugins on the showroom floor. That would be too much for me to resist.

  • trouble

    I just replaced the clutch in my 2001 Ranger. Only 85,000kms. $1200. I do not see the problem with spending $2000 on a battery, I will spend that much or more on my Ranger.

  • Progman

    Battery – Sudbury Ontario. The real hidden cost of hybrids. Google Image Sudbury Nickle battery.

  • Heywood

    I drive a twenty some odd year old SUBCOMPACT car that gets mileage in the high thirties.

    Insurance costs are minimal. No car payment. The thing runs like a champ and sips gasoline.

    Hybrid, schmybrid. Build decent subcompacts, instead. Put in a few airbags, and Bob’s Yer Uncle.

    We did it before, why can’t we do it again?

  • murray barber (661murray)

    If ereryone is so worried about the high cost of a replacement battery; say in the 7 to 9 k range for ten grand you can replace a bad battery with a 100 mpg system complete with lithium batteries. some of the conversions are less. I will be converting to the 40 mile range all electric as soon as I can get through the house buy/sale fiesco I am presently embroiled in. I currently get 34 mpg in my 2005 prius with my lead foot. I need about 40 miles range to be totally electric.

  • Tom in Texas

    The battery in my 2001 Prius has failed after 109K miles, repairs estimated at $4000+. Warranty is 100k miles. Toyota Corp does not offer any help at all. My dealer has offered to replace with parts at cost and no labor charge, but that only amounts to a few hundred dollars. The only help the”customer relations representative” at my dealer offered was a print-out from the website with address of the president of Toyota in Japan — suggested I write him a letter. But don’t mention his name, he said — that could get him in trouble! Thanks for nothing!

    I was an early adopter and promoter of hybrid technology — I also have a 2006 Prius and I convinced several other people to buy hybrids. I now feel like I need to warn them to unload theirs before the warranty expires, and while resale value is high. If batteries start failing like popcorn and word gets out used hybrids will become nearly worthless pretty darn quick.

    Thanks for the info about corrosion as a possible cause, I’ll look into that. Anybody have other information about cheaper alternatives for battery repair/replacement?

  • Mike MacArthur

    I am tossing around purchasing a used 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid which currently has approx. 91,000 miles. Based on some of the things I have been reading above, it sounds like this may not be a good idea especially if the battery dies within the next five years. I have a very tight budget and replacing a battery at these prices would put a huge dent in any expected fuel savings that I would get. Does anyone have some enlightening thoughts for me as far as whether to buy or wait?

  • Markus

    I cannot bring myself to spend over $20k on a new vehicle which does not really help me save money or the environment all that much. I drive an old Geo Metro which gets over 50mpg, and I only paid $1800 for it eight years ago. I could sell it for $2000 quite easily today. We as a nation could have been driving fleets of small, economical commuting cars for many years now. Unfortunately, the last year producing the Geo was 2002.

    Am I missing something? Why did automobile manufacturers discontinue these small economical cars? Was it the American appetite for large vehicles? Was it safety concerns with the small car?

    Now for a little ranting…I notice that hybrid owners get tax deductions, but my Geo gets nearly the same mileage as a Prius without the battery issues. I never got a tax deduction for doing my part. I see that motorcycles may use the HOV carpool lane. Why? I get better mileage than Harley-Davidson’s, and I can drive year-round. What have we gotten ourselves into?

  • tnorth40

    u can all the parts u needs on ebay i bought a cell for 49.95 to replace one of mine

  • alex Buller

    yes, hybrids are reasonably priced if you use them for their entire lifetime. you talked about 8-10 years, but in reality, would you keep a hybrid for 8-10 years. by that time, you wont be able to find any replacement parts, and future green technology would probably not include hybrids because they still burn fossil fuels. if you want to help the enviroment, buy an inexpensive, but efficient vehicle like non hybrid hondas for ex. many cars now a days get the same or better milage than the hybrids for less cost. check out the Dust to Dust study. it lists the opperational cost of all us vehicles per mile. the lower the cost, the better it is for the enviroment because it is cheeper and easier to make which means less tooling which lowers factory emmission. you save your wallet and the enviroment at the same time.

  • jade

    I think it’s great that Toyota puts their phone number on all of their batteries and pay you $200 to “recycle” it…but has anyone actually found out how or where they recycle them?
    Please don’t hate on me, but seriously, I can’t find the info. My guess is it is flown (and not on an electric plane) and buried in a Toyota shhhh…! LANDFILL!
    I think hybrids might be a safer bet five or so years down the road when we all have more concrete facts. There are many diesel and compact/sub compact vehicles that can save you the same amount of money. They just don’t seem to be at the proven stage yet.

  • Gene Beley

    I have approximately 108,000 miles on my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid–on its original battery. Naturally, I am a little ticked off at a Honda salesman in Gilroy, CA who told me, when I did the initial shopping for the car in 2003, that the hybrid batteries were about $1,000, and were expected to get cheaper as more hybrids were sold. Now I realize that was just salesman b.s. talk. My neighbor just bought a new 2008 Honda coupe that gets 42 miles per gallon and it is not a hybrid. Sorry, but if I were buying a new car today, I would probably just buy a less expensive Honda that gets this 40+ miles per gallon and not have to worry about buying an expensive Hybrid battery. With that said, I have enjoyed my Hybrid Honda Civic and it has been totally reliable and still runs like a new car. The local Honda dealer has given great service at a very reasonable cost and I definitely have been converted to an enthusiastic, loyal Honda owner.

    I have read one of the benefits is that the hybrids will last longer than a normal internal combustion engine car, because it gets the electrical assist to save the engine. Maybe this benefit alone will be worth buying a hybrid. Only time will tell, but unfortunately the hybrids have escalated in price since I bought mine for $20,000 in 2003, making it a harder decision for many consumers.

    I predict the forthcoming, much hyped GM Chevrolet Volt will not fly with consumers, because it will be too expensive. The concept sounds great, but the latest forecast of the Volt costing more than $35,000-$40,000 doesn’t put it in the category of the Everyman’s car, like the VW bug of the 1950s that sold for a low cost and got more than 32 miles per gallon. Sometimes I think the Detroit based auto manufacturers ought to just go out of business, and let other entrepreneurs take their place and start over again, like the sleek, Tesla electric cars in the Silicon Valley, which already has a head start on the technology, but, alas, so far, is aiming only for the wealthy with over $100,000 price tags. I hate to see my grandchildren have to pick up the tax tab for bailing out Detroit auto executive bozos, just like we’ve already bailed out the Wall Street bandits who have fleeced the American taxpayers.

  • Monty Collis

    Cafe standards would be much easier for U.S. automakers to meet if congress would back off the safety standards that have to be built into new cars. {example} Mustangs have been built for over 40 years, the newest model is very close in size to a 1967-68 model.
    The 68 weighed about 3000 pounds ,the new mustang is about 3800 pounds. most of this weight is 5mph bumpers ,airbags, and steel reinforcement to drivers compartment, all mandated by the congress.That is why we cant get the really high mileage gas cars that are produced in europe. American auto makers have been hog tied by our well meaning uncle sam. I cant believe we can even build motorcycles for the road in the U.S. .If only Ralph Nader had written Unsafe At Any Speed about the volkswagon bug instead of the Corvair, the U.S. auto industry might be leading the world right now, these saftey mandates killed Detroit.

  • diesel4me

    How can tax rebate be taken into account. Whatever that amount is it does not come from
    nowhere. It is taxpayers subsidy done the following way: The purchaser of a new hybrid get
    a tax break and he pay less in taxes than if he/she buy a non hybrid. In other words other
    tax payers will make up the difference.

  • Lou

    I have a 2003 Civic Hybrid that I purchased new. I have 128,000 miles on it. Unfortunately, the battery is going bad and must be replaced. Moreover, the replacement cost is $3,000 and the warranty on the battery is 12 months/12,000.

    While I’ve been very pleased with my Hybrid, I am not pleased with the replacement cost for the battery. If you buy a used hybrid, make sure the battery is covered by a warranty. Otherwise, be prepared to shell out $3K for a new battery.

  • Lou

    I have a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid with 128,000 and a dying battery. The replacement cost is $3,000. I noticed that you replaced your battery. If you were in my position, would you replace the battery? (I don’t want to buy a new car.)

    Any thoughts/suggestions are appreciated.

  • Lou

    The problem is the warranty on the battery. The warranty on a battery for a 03 Civic Hybrid is 12 months/12,000 miles. That’s ridiculous when the battery’s cost is $3,000.

  • Russ

    I have a 2005 Prius and was just told today that the battery has to be replaced. The local dealership said this is the first battery that they have had to replace – the good news is that it is still under warranty.

    The care has just over 40,000 miles

    I do love my Prius

  • MarkH

    Just wondering if any of you hybrid owners have purchased 3rd party extended warranties and if these warranties cover the battery pack replacement after the term of the original warranty?

    Also, what is the general experience with mechanics dealing with the electrical systems on these hybrids? Are you essentially restricted to using the dealer for all hybrid-system related maintenance? I typically prefer to find an independent local mechanic for better customer service and continuity, but if these systems require specially-trained mechanics, I guess that would be out.

    Thanks,

  • Anonymous

    My neighbor just bought a new 2008 Honda coupe that gets 42 miles per gallon and it is not a hybrid. Sorry, but if I were buying a new car today, I would probably just buy a less expensive Honda that gets this 40+ miles per gallon and not have to worry about buying an expensive Hybrid battery. With that said, I have enjoyed my Hybrid Honda Civic and it has been totally reliable and still runs like a new car.
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    You may want to research that and see if you can somehow use that to get a free replacement battery pack.

  • joe blow

    Our 2003 Civic Hybrid needs a new battery pack. $3100.00. The car has 140,000 miles. The car is not worth the price of a new battery. So basically we have to junk it. A gas burning Civic will last 300,000 miles. So I don’t care how much you save in gas, having to junk a car with 140,000 miles is not worth the gas savings. Plus you have to drive a gutless car around.

  • Mikhe

    Im a single hard independent working and student guy of 22 years of age! you guys just saved me of making the bigest mistakes of my car selections! I got aproved for a 05 civic hybrid and was going to get it this week end but, just reading this made me change my decision 180*.
    Thanck I better buy just a normal gas car! and rather buy a old fashin battery at pep boys for 70 dlls than a 8000 dlls one! it makes no sence!

  • Shabbir Latif

    Any idea about the consequences of driving 2003 Honda Hybrid with a bad IMA battery?

    Thanks,

  • Wain

    I was talking to my friend who owns a 2003 Honda hybrid. He mention that at the beginning of 2009 he did inquire at the Honda dealership, about a quote to replace his battery pack. They quoted him $9500+ tax. The quoted price is half of what he paid for his car brand new. why aren’t this companies disclosing this absurd amounts up front. So if you have to shell out such huge amounts of $ to update the car, where’s the monetary benefit for driving a hybrid car.
    I would love to support this type of tech but let’s get real here, financially talking. There’s no benefit at least not in your pocket.

  • agapemike

    I had spent a long time laying out my case for hybrids, with 4 or 5 well-built paragraphs documenting my personal savings. I scrapped it (you’re welcome) in favor of these few thoughts:

    1. If (when) gas prices are consistently above $5/gallon, this thread will be moot. My ’03 Civic Hybrid would save over $500 a year (13K miles/yr) vs. a standard ’03 Civic. In the 4 years I’ve owned it (bought it used in 2005), I’ve already made up the price of replacing the battery and should have at least 8 more years to more than make up for the difference in cost over a standard used Civic in 2005. With China already surpassing the US in car sales, how long do you think it will be before gas is above $5/gallon?

    2. My height requires my seat to be back as far as it can go. One of my two children must suffer the seat behind mine, so the Civic is as small as I can go (no Honda Fit or VW Golf TDI will cut it). Therefore, not everyone has the practical choice to get a sub-compact. So, yes, one CAN get a cheap sub-compact with comprable mpg’s, but such cars do not fit my transportation needs. We’re not all single communters.

    Mike

  • ericbecky

    First off, the batteries in most hybrids have a pretty long warranty period (mine is 10 yrs, 150,000 miles!) so depending on how long you keep your car you should not have any worries at all. And just because the warranty is up, does not mean the battery will suddenly stop working. Heck, a relative of mine has an Insight with over 225,000 miles and has not had to replace his battery yet.

    Second, there are individual companies that rebuild battery packs for Honda hybrids right now for around $1000 or less! (Another $200 to get it shipped, and $200 for installation.) When my time comes, I plan on replacing mine myself and save the installation cost.

    Do a quick google search for “hybrid battery repair” and I bet you will find Ron Hansen’s Hybrid Battery Repair company.
    ( http://www.hybrid-battery-repair.com/)

    For Prius batteries there are companies that can refurbish them for under $1,5000 (another $300 or so to install.) Do a google search for “reinvolt”. They have installers in various parts of the country such as Carolyn Coquillette of Luscious Garage in San Francisco and Mony Soora “The Car Doctor” in Ontario. I’ve personally met both of these people and highly recommend them.
    http://www.re-involt.com/
    http://lusciousgarage.com/

    Best of luck on your battery quest.


    Eric Powers
    Green Drive Expo
    * SF Bay Area – Second weekend in June
    * Madison, WI – Third weekend in July
    http://www.GreenDriveExpo.com

  • hybriddriveguy

    As with all technology, the initial costs can be extremely high, but that just drives innovation and competition.
    Initially, replacement batteries were in the $7000-$9000 range, but market forces have driven the price down and now things are where they should have been all along. Between Ron Hansen and myself, we should be able to help with most any hybrid battery pack that is thrown our way. We are also begining to remanufacture some inverters, transmissions and MFD displays that are currently only available new from the dealer and priced very high because of that. We hope to be able to offer those at 1/2 the price of the new parts.
    David- Re-Involt Technologies
    http://www.re-involt.com

  • Greg

    One problem with unsolicited responses, as on a comment board like this, is that those with a bad experience are many times more likely to post; they’re angry with their experience–perhaps they’ve had no experience, but are only posting fiction based on a prejudicial mind set, derived from the numberless canards posted around the Net.

    One thing that most do not take into consideration, in regards to the battery life, cost and environmental impact is that expanding use will bring an expanding availability of higher reliability (c.f. auto reliability in general in 1950 v. 2010), lower price batteries and an expansion of facilities expert in recycling the battery resources, with lower impact to the environment and to battery construction costs.

    The relatively greater scarcity of lithium supply compared with nickle may turn out to to be a problem in the long run, but that alone is certain to push forward the technology of lithium battery recycling. As to nickle, I wonder how the price of nickel harvested from the billions of auto and non-auto batteries compares with mining it from the ground?

  • BO69

    Dude, I appreciate the article greatly . However, your info is kind of off. Brock Yates is absolutely is right. And here is why

    1)Hybrids are subsidized. Your prius cost close to $ 50,000 . You pay half and we ,the tax payers pay the rest. Thank Clinton for this one.

    2)Batteries, no matter what anyone else will tell you do degrade with time. Sure it may last 10 years but it will carry little charge. Batteries lose capacitance……its a fact. No debate. They may hold better than a convential lead acid battery………but they will sooner than later experience voltage depression. Anyone telling you anything else is trying to sell you something. And infact, this is the one of the reasons we dont have hydrogen cars. The technology for a battery rubust enough…isnt there.

    3)The long term cost of disposing of these batterey packs will be substantial…and the long term environmental impact on our already over taxed landfills will leave a toxic legacy for our children.

    4)You may not know it…but you are being exposed to toxic off gasing……………of which no long term studies have been done. People might argue against this……..but that is because they are misinformed . These batteries are dry cells and do not off gas like the lead acid battery we use to start are cars………..but they do infact offgas. And though comparitively the amount is less………..long term it is still an issue. Is there a safe level to the exposure of these gases? I let you find out.

    So lets take a look at what we have. We have $ 50,000 dollar car that gets worse gas mileage than my 1994 GEO Metro ( 51 in town and 62 highway)actual results. My car new was $6999. Emissions are functionally equivalent. Maintainence on the prius is several times greater than on my car. Hell there was a GEO for sale down the street with 37,000 miles for 1200$ obo( that for a whole car …not for a used battery pack). Aside from battery replacement you have short tire life….with the hybrids and as a bonus you expose yourself to EMF in the microwave range. Sitting in a hybrid is like walking with a gas powered cellphone between your crotch.

    In the long run a toyata yaris is infinitely cheaper and nearly as good on fuel usage, and will last 3 times as long. Oh and the Yaris is super clean emissions wise too.

    Also , the orginal honda crx got fuel effeciency in this range. And those damn things are almost free. Oh and you know what it cost to replace the motor in my 99 civic? It cost me a little over 1100$. New motor. I will be driving my civic for another 13 years at 45 mpg for a cost of maybe 2000$ total, while you will have put us in debt, spent 10′s of thousands of dollars, filled our landfills, and irradiated you and anyone in your car . Sounds like a deal to me(lol)

  • meh :/

    Ayt dude (BO69). Here’s the shit. I totally agree with your view of hybrids n’ stuff but you can’t go telling these people all these things passing them off as facts. Most of what you said was true but you can’t just say “no debate” and make it true. I’m sure you’ve watched a lot of TV shows to gather that kind of info. But what bothered me the most and also took away from your credibility were the numerous gramatical errors. And the fucking ……….s were very distracting

  • dkindrick

    I just experienced the big screw job by our leaders, corporate america and japan. I have a 2001 prius with 165000 miles on it. Recently, paid 1700 for a catalytic converter which could be bought on line with a universal for as little as 99 dollars. I drove the car from ohio to texas and after having it serviced so that the check engine lite was off, I had to be towed . Was almost positive it was the battery. The dealer confirmeed it and told me I need another battery for 3100. So now I have to eat 1700 and be without a car or have nearly 5000 in a car that has a value of 3500. if it were in good shape. Why do we keep getting duped by these scoundrels? Any thing the sell to help the environment does not work or just serves to get into our pockets. Another rip off is florescent light bulbs to take the place of incandescents. I have never had one that last a year and a half and I always write the beginning service date on them.

  • Yegor

    I thought about it. In my calculations if I own a hybrid for 15 years the money I save on fuel ($270 per year (14,000 km), $4050 for 15 years) will cover the cost to replace the battery. I compared Ford Escape Hybrid against Toyota Venza.

  • dkindrick

    You can be sure if the big corporations have a hand in it that even an all electric car would have similar problems. The problem is man’s greed. I have a 2001 prius with 165k on it and just replaced the catalytic converter. 1700 dollars and have found the battery is now bad. The dealer says can fix easy for 3100 dollars. If the car as it is is worth 2000 dollars , I have compared it to “what if I bought a corolla instead” I still come out with a savings of 6400 dollars for the 165k miles driven assuming gasoline averaged 2.50 per gallon over the decade. (I need to check that and get a more accurated estimate). This doesn’t take into account that I have never done a brake job on this car.

  • Hannah

    About a year ago we had our hybrid battery repaired in our 2003 Civic (with over 180,000 miles) by a company called Hybrid Revolt. The total cost, including shipping was just under $1000, which was much better than the $3800 the dealer wanted. The car has performed flawlessly since the repair and our mileage has returned to normal. I would recommend that anyone having battery trouble to check them out. It appears they work on Prius and other vehicle batteries, too.

    http://www.hybridrevolt.com

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  • Kelly

    It looks like you got a fair deal on your battery repair. I assume that they fixed one or more bad connections and cleaned some corroded terminals.

    As for full battery replacement, you can now buy a new Toyota Prius OEM battery pack for under $2,200, including shipping. Installation from an independent shop would likely not run more than a few hundred dollars.

    The arguments against hybrids that center on cost are often, intentionally or otherwise, getting their facts wrong. For example, in just 39k miles of driving my 2006 Prius I have saved $2,830 on gas (47mpg vs. 22mpg for the Passat I replaced with the Prius.) If I had to replace the battery pack today, with just 39k on it, I would still be ahead on cost without factoring in any other cost savings, such as virtually no significant maintenance: a CVT transmission that will run for 200k+ miles without repair and brakes that will run for 150k+ miles without repair. Of course, my battery is warranted for 100k so my savings will be considerably higher.

    And don’t forget that the true cost of gasoline is not the subsidized price you see at the pump. It may seem expensive at $3+/gallon but that’s just a small fraction of the cost. Add to that the externalized costs that the oil companies pass off on everyone (including of course wars over oil) and the price is astronomical.

    The average car achieves just 21.5/mpg which over a year will spew 12,000 lbs. of toxic gas and heavy metals into the air, onto the fields, and into our lungs. The Prius will spew about 56% less or about 5,500 lbs. over 12,000 miles. It adds up: the transportation system gushes close to 2.7 million tons of dangerous pollutants very day of the year. And passenger vehicles are the largest contributor. If all passenger vehicles got 47/mpg it could cut pollution in half using existing, proven current technology.

    Consider the misery and enormous financial costs of increased cancers, bronchitis, pneumonia, birth defects, damage to the nervous system, the epidemic of childhood asthma (1 in 10 kids), aggravation of heart disease, emphysema, and the destruction of marshes and marine environments. There is not a single good thing to be said about the effects of petroleum production and the internal combustion engine. Unless you’re an oil company, of course. It is not just $3/gal, it is the lives per gallon that we should be worried about.

    Whether Prius drivers, Hummer drivers, or bicycle drivers, we are all inextricably bound to a transportation system that pumps out 10 billion metric tons of toxic stew every year. This directly results in many tens of thousands of American premature deaths and chronic health problems, the costs of which we all share both morally and financially through increased costs for health care, lost productivity, the clean up of toxic wastes, and…you get the picture.

    It is a moral choice to minimize our individual contributions to this disaster and burning less fuel by driving a fuel efficient car and driving less is a good start. For those that sneer at environmentalists, it’s time you woke up and smelled the toxic waste.

  • neevers1

    The fact is, you are comparing your Prius, to bigger car that’s inefficient, not a fair comparison, if we are doing this we would have to count the entire cost of the Prius against you. To be more fair we would have to pick a new similary economic car, that isn’t a hybrid, I’ll pick the 2012 Ford Focus, 30/40 on a normal car, it’s not 50 mpg, but that’s expected EPA, it could be a little better, and of course driving style effects it greatly, it’s also starting at 18,700, so I’m cheaper out the gate. honestly I’m not that worried about the money factor, if you care you can think about that, I’m more interested in the enviromental factor, and since you brought it up, lets look at that:

    Then lets consider that it’s made in america, using NYK’s very very best numbers, probably from the Aguria leader (the company that ships the prius) the prius is worth 6900 lbs of CO2 when it hits shore. The Focus is built in detroit, no shipping to the continental 48 needed. They both have to be railed and trucked to the dealer, so that’s a wash. Ok, so my little focus is starting out 6900 lbs ahead? What does that mean over the life of the car?

    141,000 miles is the break even point if both cars do the best they can.

    Ok, now what about the extra cost of manufacturing the Prius, it has two drivetrains, and batteries. Most sites I’ve seen put it at a 9000lb deficit, however, I have done the math myself and considering that Japan uses more nuclear and natural gas, I’ve got it down to 6875lbs of extra CO2.

    That’s roughly another 139,000 miles.

    All said you’re looking at a 280,000 mile pay back on the prius until it’s ahead in CO2 production.

    The other thing to consider is that $2,200 battery is a 9000lb CO2 debt, so if it’s replaced, you would need to drive the entire car with that battery, well you do the math, but basically another 200,000 miles after 280,000 miles, so 480,000.

  • neevers1

    The fact is, you are comparing your Prius, to bigger car that’s inefficient, not a fair comparison, if we are doing this we would have to count the entire cost of the Prius against you. To be more fair we would have to pick a new similary economic car, that isn’t a hybrid, I’ll pick the 2012 Ford Focus, 30/40 on a normal car, it’s not 50 mpg, but that’s expected EPA, it could be a little better, and of course driving style effects it greatly, it’s also starting at 18,700, so I’m cheaper out the gate. honestly I’m not that worried about the money factor, if you care you can think about that, I’m more interested in the enviromental factor, and since you brought it up, lets look at that:

    Then lets consider that it’s made in america, using NYK’s very very best numbers, probably from the Aguria leader (the company that ships the prius) the prius is worth 6900 lbs of CO2 when it hits shore. The Focus is built in detroit, no shipping to the continental 48 needed. They both have to be railed and trucked to the dealer, so that’s a wash. Ok, so my little focus is starting out 6900 lbs ahead? What does that mean over the life of the car?

    141,000 miles is the break even point if both cars do the best they can.

    Ok, now what about the extra cost of manufacturing the Prius, it has two drivetrains, and batteries. Most sites I’ve seen put it at a 9000lb deficit, however, I have done the math myself and considering that Japan uses more nuclear and natural gas, I’ve got it down to 6875lbs of extra CO2.

    That’s roughly another 139,000 miles.

    All said you’re looking at a 280,000 mile pay back on the prius until it’s ahead in CO2 production.

    The other thing to consider is that $2,200 battery is a 9000lb CO2 debt, so if it’s replaced, you would need to drive the entire car with that battery, well you do the math, but basically another 200,000 miles after 280,000 miles, so 480,000.

  • heavy iron driver

    Question. Your premise – a conventional vehicle drives 12,000 miles in one year at an efficiency of 21.5 mpg – that’s 12,500 divided by 21.5, or 558.14 gallons of fuel consumed. Auto fuel weights 6 lbs per US gallon. So 558.14 times 6 equals 3,3348.84 lbs of liquid. How does that equate to, or produce your alleged 12,000 lbs of toxic gas?

  • Anonymous

    from http://www.fueleconomy.gov ….

    It seems impossible that a gallon of gasoline, which weighs about 6.3 pounds, could produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. However, most of the weight of the CO2 doesn’t come from the gasoline itself, but the oxygen in the air.

    When gasoline burns, the carbon and hydrogen separate. The hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water (H2O), and carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2).

    A carbon atom has a weight of 12, and each oxygen atom has a weight of 16, giving each single molecule of CO2 an atomic weight of 44 (12 from carbon and 32 from oxygen).

    Therefore, to calculate the amount of CO2 produced from a gallon of gasoline, the weight of the carbon in the gasoline is multiplied by 44/12 or 3.7.

    Since gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight, the carbon in a gallon of gasoline weighs 5.5 pounds (6.3 lbs. x .87).

    We can then multiply the weight of the carbon (5.5 pounds) by 3.7, which equals 20 pounds of CO2!

  • Joseph

    Yeah, but when are the ‘off the grid’ folks with solar panels going to be able to benefit from the newer battery tech? I would love one of these battery packs – and I think the industry is overlooking an important market! Greater sales would help bring the initial costs down to something reasonable…

  • jackblack

    i you really wanted to be accurate, then you’d have to keep your jetta for more than 16 years…..but i doubt you will so your statement isn’t relevant.

  • LCassidy

    I’ve been driving my Honda Civic Hybrid w/ CVT for more than 8 years now — still on the original everything (knock wood) and going strong. Drives — and looks — just like it did when it had 38 miles on the odometer. It’s actually a little eerie, like a Portrait of Dorian Grey thing.

    There’s another factor that hasn’t come up in this discussion — incredibly low maintenance costs. In addition to the normal 100,000-mile interval for tuneups, the HCH uses strange 0W10 oil which only has to be changed every 10,000 miles. For 8 years, my car has had absolutely no maintenance costs, aside from oil, fluids, and wiper blades — I’ve never experienced anything like it.

    So, in addition to the savings I’ve had in fuel — and I average about 45 – 47 mpg on a diet of mostly highway driving (the car’s trip odometer will calculate that for you) — there is the total absence of repair & maintenance costs. Not only is it dirt cheap to run, but having a car that is always in the peak of health is a strange and wonderful thing.

    When I bought my car, the dealership was perfectly up-front about battery replacement costs, which they quoted at $8,000. I’m glad to know the cost has dropped, but even at original quote, it would be worth doing. My car looks to be good for at least another 8 years of driving, and I’ve gotten spoiled!

  • Rita C

    I bought an ’05 Prius in ’07 with 65,000 miles on it. The vehicle has consistently given me 51 to 59-64 mpg. The best octane for this hybrid seems to be Shell gasoline. I noticed at least 7-10 mpg drop when using Mobil. It is 7/2011 now and the same batter is going strong. The vehicle has travelled 110,750 miles. With the focus on being “green,” I am willing to take the cost of the replacement as a wash considering the absolutely compelling history that nothing else has gone wrong with this car, other than replacement tires, it has been service free, of course, excepting the recalls of minor items. I would buy another in a heartbeat!

  • Larry Miller

    haha…I almost bought a hybrid. Had I read this first I wouldn’t have considered it. I also wouldn’t trust the online reviews of hybrid dealers because of this: http://www.larryhmilleralert.com

  • pam_paul

    it would behoove someone that is technically gifted to come up with a way to repair the hybrid batteries and start a whole new business for themselves. Come on you talented individuals – get with it!

  • jason

    the hybrid cost to much for the lower class we need to lower the cost so that in today’s economy we can buy this car and help the ecosystem and stop pollution.

  • BettieBob

    Okay…I’ve read every post here from three years ago to two weeks ago.
    I am going to look at a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid with 180k miles. The battery was, supposedly, replaced at around 150k.
    Does anyone have a take on whether this would be a good purchase at 4k?? Do you think I would get another 100k or more miles before another battey exchange?
    It feels a little better discovering the possibility of Repair vs. Replace and also that there is an independent company producing replacement batteries and other components at half orless than dealers. 09 October 2011

  • Anonymous

    That is not proper accounting. You are purchasing an asset with the $319. Gas is a recurring expense that will not have a return.

  • Amazed

    I was always tentative about getting into hidden costs of battery replacement, etc, with hybrids…. and recently my car was in an accident so I had to go shopping again.

    I had not done too much research, so I was shocked to find there is a car that can get Hybrid-like mileage without the hidden costs…….. the Chevrolet Cruze ECO .

    I was just casually walking the lot and saw 42 mpg on the window!… My old Honda Civic gets 47 hwy with just gasoline, but it’s 2000 lbs lighter than today’s cars.

    So far with the 2012 Cruze (I bought it), I have tested it and the results are about 50 mpg hwy!!

    What’s the secret? Well, amidst good engineering, it’s 100 cc smaller engine than the Civic… but TWICE the horsepower due to a TurboCharger which is only used when needed. Also, it has a SIXTH gear for overdrive amazing mileage. A sixth gear!.. It’s so simple… why don’t more manufacturers do it? Why did it take so long to get implemented for economy? I know the Corvette has had it for quite a while, and it does bring the hwy mileage up to about 28.

    So I am amazed by this Cruze. Electric steering so no steering fluid. Sealed tranny so no checking or leaking there either. No timing belt to break. And this amazing MPG and a 15 gallon tank gives an over 500 mile range!…

    So hopefully this will help some readers here too.. this is what I did when looking for a hybrid… I got this rockin’ Chevy :)

  • Anonymous

    I was always tentative about getting into hidden costs of battery replacement, etc, with hybrids…. and recently my car was in an accident so I had to go shopping again.

    I had not done too much research, so I was shocked to find there is a car that can get Hybrid-like mileage without the hidden costs…….. the Chevrolet Cruze ECO .

    I was just casually walking the lot and saw 42 mpg on the window!… My old Honda Civic gets 47 hwy with just gasoline, but it’s 2000 lbs lighter than today’s cars.

    So far with the 2012 Cruze (I bought it), I have tested it and the results are about 50 mpg hwy!!

    What’s the secret? Well, amidst good engineering, it’s 100 cc smaller engine than the Civic… but TWICE the horsepower due to a TurboCharger which is only used when needed. Also, it has a SIXTH gear for overdrive amazing mileage. A sixth gear!.. It’s so simple… why don’t more manufacturers do it? Why did it take so long to get implemented for economy? I know the Corvette has had it for quite a while, and it does bring the hwy mileage up to about 28.

    So I am amazed by this Cruze. Electric steering so no steering fluid. Sealed tranny so no checking or leaking there either. No timing belt to break. And this amazing MPG and a 15 gallon tank gives an over 500 mile range!…

    So hopefully this will help some readers here too.. this is what I did when looking for a hybrid… I got this rockin’ Chevy :)

  • Anonymous

    I wanna tell you about the Cruze I got which gets 50, but the filter won’t let me :/

  • John Johnson

    Sounds like you have all the right solutions to all the issues of the hybrid car. Maybe you should become part of the R & D team for one the hybrid auto manufacturers – they pay big bucks.

  • Lonnie

    1/26/2012 Post date:
    I have 2005 Prius (typical 44 mpg), bought new in Dec 2004 with 155,000 miles and a 2010 Prius (typical 50 mpg), bought Oct 2009 with 77,000 miles and both are still going strong on the original batteries, both drive batteries and 12 volt starting batteries.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree. Unless you are looking for a full-size vehicle with pretty darn good gas mileage, a hybrid is not a good choice. We recently got our first one (a Honda Civic). While it’s a fairly comfortable, nice-riding, vehicle; there’s really nothing worth hyping about it IMO. Like previous people on this thread are saying, they have battery packs which have to be replaced after a while. The maintenance (such as oil changes) costs are pretty high at least with the Honda Civic version. Another thing about this car IS the gas mileage. Before we had even gotten one, people had been saying you only really get a little under the gas mileage rating from the manufacturer.

    The Honda Civic version we have is rated at 40 city and 45 highway. While we’ve mostly driven just in the city, we have only really gotten about 38. We have yet to test the highway mileage. If anyone else on this forum knows what you really get for highway mileage on these Civic hybrids, please let me know. I have a feeling that this will be our first and last one.

  • Anonymous

    The prius and battery powered cars r a dam joke after five years u have to put a 5000 $ battery in the dam thing stupid!! I thought they said that the battery powered car would save ya money BS… they should of stuck with the hydrogen car if everybody think that were hurting the dam enviroment so…. bad. Why don’t u look up and see what one of those batterys goes through to be built and how much fossil fuels r burned to transport them here to the US… ya’ll r funny think your saving the planet do some dam back round check and if ya really want to help get a bike…

  • Chad

    Electric cars and Hybrids will be the future of the automotive world. Over time battery replacement costs will get cheaper. We are in a transitional stage.

  • tapra1

    In a follow-up email, Ray wrote, “Toyota doesn’t want these battery issues to get out to the public. How could there be two 2001 Priuses in Tech News

  • Jade C

    Hybrids are somewhat cost effective if you buy one brand new or with a freshly replaced battery, drive it till the battery capacity is exhausted and then re-sell it.

    Though getting a good value for a car with nearly worthless battery will be difficult. It’ll be a sucker search.

    I have a friend that does conversion of gasoline cars into electrics on acid or NiMH batteries. He tells me that most people sell their cars when the battery reaches about 80-85% capacity. The thing is that the efficiency of battery decreases exponentially from that point forward. To an uneducated buyer 80-85% sounds like a good deal. If it was a wear on the tires, tires would be good indeed, but for a battery the decline is not linear, so 80% in reality is as good as dead.

    Same thing with hybrids, I assume. They offer the best deal when the fool that bought the car originally manages to find a greater fool that knows little about the exponential decrease in battery efficiency.

  • Sara C

    I have a 2005 Toyota Prius. It has 128000 miles and the12v and the hybrid battery has died. I was told around 4000. I am considering not replacing it. I really don.t have the money. Also I am curious why no one mentions the other down falls of a hybrid. I did get a one time tax break when I bought it new. But the first time I went to the tag office. My tag was over 600. This is the first year me tag has been under 200.00. My husband had a Saturn three years newer than mine and his tag was always much cheaper than mine. When I bought the car new it was getting around 47mpg. The MPG kept going down every year. Before the battery died it was only getting around 39mpg My husbands car not a hybrid was getting 35mpg. .I will not get another hybrid unless those cost really dropped. I am very disappointed and Toyota is no help.

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