Replacement Hybrid Battery Costs Plummet

by Benjamin Jones on June 7, 2008

2008 Toyota Prius

When someone on the EcoModder forums asks about buying a used hybrid, there is usually a flurry of excitement coupled with cautions about the age of the car and the price of a new battery pack. Ecomodders, usually being budget-minded folks, are very wary of the seemingly astronomical price of battery replacement.

In the early part of this decade, some of the biggest worries about hybrids were how could the batteries possibly last, when would they finally give out, and how much would it cost to have them replaced. These days, concerns about batteries have largely faded out of the minds of new car buyers. Honda and Toyota have both had hybrids on the market for about a decade now, and there are no ominous junkyards filled with dead hybrids.

To underline the reliability of modern battery-electric hybrids, Honda says that out of over 100,000 hybrids on the road currently, only 200 have needed out-of-warranty battery replacement. Toyota, on the other hand, has only needed to replace 0.003 percent of its hybrid batteries out of warranty on the second generation Prius. Granted, these cars still aren’t all that old, and the batteries will likely fail eventually, but it seems that they are living up to manufacturers’ promises that they will last the life of a car.

Necessity aside, Honda and Toyota have both announced drastic cuts to the cost of replacement batteries for their hybrids. It will now cost just under $2,000 to have new batteries installed in you Honda Insight, and just under $2,500 for your Accord hybrid. These are about $1,000 reductions in the cost. Toyota, on the other hand, has dropped prices from ~$5,500 to $3,000, but that doesn’t include the installation, so the real cost is likely a bit more.

So, buyers of used hybrids, never fear! It’s unlikely that your batteries will fail prematurely, and even if they do, replacements are getting cheaper.

Source: Newsweek

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

51 CliffG March 26, 2010 at 2:48 pm

I bought my Insight used about 5 years ago, a 2002 5 speed with 28K miles at the time. I would only get the MT since driving is a fun hobby, even in the SanFran Bay Area. I’m nowhere near a hypermiler, since time=money and 80 mph is a nice cruising speed when traffic permits. Anyway: IMA light went on last week, and it seemed the battery was less responsive, lost about 5% mileage. The dealer ordered a warranty replacement (64K miles now) 2 days ago. Today the IMA light is off (I don’t know why it turned itself off) & the battery seems to have more energy to dump into the motor mode, but I will still accept the “free” battery exchange.

52 Harry February 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm

From my experience working for a Honda Dealer.

The Hybrid system is considered by law to be part of the emissions systems. As such the warranty terms are determined by the law of the State you live in. Eight states have adopted the CA emissions standards; in those states the warranty is 10 years/150,000 miles. In the other states the warranty is 8 ears/80,000 miles.

Some people assume that means you will replace the batteries when they come off warranty. That logic doesn’t make sense. Your drivetrain warranty expires at 5 years/60,000 miles. Are you buyin a new engine and transmission then?

My experience is that the battery packs themselves are not the typical point of failure, but the charging systems. If the charging system does not operate at the right voltage the batteries can be damaged. I no longer have the TSBs but I remember that being the issue. I currently work with back up power systems that use batteries and improperly set charging currents can reduce the life of batteries regardless of the application.

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