REVENGE OF THE NERDS - How the $10,000 Prius hybrid battery came down to the cost of a major tune-up

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by Arroyo, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. ericbecky

    ericbecky Hybrid Battery Hero

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    I have been doing consumer education about hybrids for over 10 years. There have always been people who had it in their mind that it cost $10,000 to replace a battery, but that was never shown to be true.
     
  2. Hybrid Dave

    Hybrid Dave Member

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    When I replaced my IMA battery in my 2009 Civic hybrid with 78k miles on it, it was obviously free under warranty, but on the shop bill, it did list the cost including labor and that total was just a little under $2200. This was at a Honda dealership.
     
  3. ericbecky

    ericbecky Hybrid Battery Hero

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    You will pay much more than that at a dealership for a NEW battery.
     
  4. Hybrid Dave

    Hybrid Dave Member

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    As others have mentioned, who would buy a NEW battery? In the many years of owning cars, every time I have ever replaced a power steering pump, an alternator, transmission rebuilds, etc, the replacements have always been refurbished. It would seem to be an apples to oranges comparison to stack the cost differential between a refurbished tranny on a 100k car vs a brand new battery pack on a 100k hybrid.
     
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  5. DeadPhish

    DeadPhish Senior Member

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    See my prior post in this thread. I bought a 'new' battery from TM and had it installed in my 2005 for just under $2500. The cost of a replacement with no warranty was about $2200 including a refurbished battery, freight to the installer and labor. To me that was about a wash.
     
  6. ericbecky

    ericbecky Hybrid Battery Hero

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    Wer're getting a bit off topic here, but what the heck. I'll bite. A used mechanical part is different than a used electrochemical part. Would you put a used 12v battery in your car? Probably not. That said, there is a case for refurbished hybrid batteries in some situations. There are reputable rebuilders. But not all used hybrid batteries are equal. Doing your homework ahead of time and asking questions is worth the time spent.
     
  7. Hybrid Dave

    Hybrid Dave Member

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    We are talking replacing the battery at a dealership using their OEM parts. This isn't some eBay knockoff that is being put in at Joe's shop in the alley. If you say the battery I got from Honda was used, then I am fine with that since Honda was the one who refurbished it, said it was fine and put it in. I would do the same with Toyota if it ever came to that.
     
  8. ericbecky

    ericbecky Hybrid Battery Hero

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    Cruise the Honda forums, look at consumer reports. You will find that Honda's factory refurbished packs have left many customers dissatisfied with regards to longevity. I personally will not install used/refurbished Honda packs at my shop. For Honda, new is the way to go. I personally lean toward aftermarket, third-party cells.
    Toyota packs are a different story. Packs that have been professionally rebuilt and rebalanced can be a good value. Prismatic cells seem to react much better to the refurbish process. (As compared to cylindrical/D-Cell batteries like Honda's.)
     
  9. Troy Heagy

    Troy Heagy Member

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    you cannot find a single car review from 2003 or earlier that says, "It will cost $10,000 to replace the Prius battery when it wears out." Just as you can not find a single news article about a guy who woke-up in a bathtub with a note saying: We took your kidneys. Both are urban legends that never happened.
     
  10. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

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    When people show you the evidence, you change your requirements. It doesn't matter where the source came from, the average Prius-basher in 2004 was fully aware that the cost of a new battery was probably $10K. Just like the whole uproar over the nickel mine in Canada, it doesn't matter if the original story was true or published in respected journal, what matters is what the average person browsing the internet would read. I was there in the early days, there was as much information saying $3,000 as $10,000. (I also don't know why it has to 2003 or before, the big splash was late 2003 onwards, I would say 2004-05 was really the primary time of debate. ) At that time it was all conjecture because no replacements had been done (except possibly for a totaled car, but I never heard of it). I knew I had several years to before I had to worry about it, and figured the eventual number would be closer to the lower value.

    The other thing is that the internet is not static. I remember Consumer Reports wrote in April 2006 (their car issue) a very critical look at the overall value of hybrids. Back then it was all about "pay-back" periods, even though that concept doesn't even exist for non-hybrids. But there was an error in some of their calculations (besides the fact they assumed $2/gal for 2006-2009, before increasing). So they quietly replaced their on-line article without any mention of the correction. That original article is virtually impossible to find now. Same thing with the whole "a Prius is dirtier than a Hummer" thing from CNW Marketing. With great fan-fare, they announced the "dust-to-dust" (production to disposal) CO2 footprint of a Prius was more than some large SUVs, including the Hummer H2. There were many issues with the numbers they used, which they vigorously defended (without giving more information). But a year later they quietly had an update that showed the Prius actually was cleaner, but it seemed nobody saw that or paid attention to it. Then about 3 years ago, they redesigned their website and the reports are no longer to be found, or any mention of them. Even less data will have survives from 2003 and before.
     
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  11. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web i3 and Prime

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    When I saw the original challenge, it looked like a good excuse to spend a day at the library reading old car magazines. Still, I have grown calm about dealing with misinformation. I sometimes ask myself, 'Is this person's ignorance important or can we have some fun?' If I can have some fun, I try to embellish their ignorance:
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    Bob Wilson
     
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  12. cproaudio

    cproaudio Speedlock Overrider

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    When I google "Prius $10,000 battery" and range the dates from 1/1/1997 to 12/31/2005, most of the results refer to the A123's plugin hybrid conversion. Some of the results were comments made by people to articles about hybrids. There's no source that states the Hybrid costs $10,000 to replace. People magically pulled $10,000 out of their nice person and assumed that's the real MSRP of a full replacement battery pack.
     
  13. ftl

    ftl Explicator

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    I did the same thing with the date range, and all I could find was the research study I quoted above with the $3,000 cost estimate.
     
  14. Greg Popove

    Greg Popove New Member

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    I've seen some YouTube videos which claim that individual cells are all that need to be replaced, and they can be bought for under $40 online. You can do the work yourself in under a day.
     
  15. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web i3 and Prime

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    With 38 modules, just 38 days. . . . <grins>

    Done poorly, it becomes a never ending task. Then there is the question of the quality of the modules. Still, if you've got the time.

    Bob Wilson
     
  16. dandeman

    dandeman Junior Member

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    If you are going to do an apples to apples comparison to traditional vehicles (with an automatic transmission), you would have to include the typical $2000 - 3000.00 to overhaul the automatic transmission in that vehicle as the ability of those vehicles to go 200 - 300 thousands miles (the proven range the batteries are lasting) without an automatic transmission overhaul is zilch.

    Automatic transmissions require an overhaul (some as short as 100,000 miles, due to the wearout of the clutch packs, not to mention the debris from that wear circulates in the oil of the transmission which is a very high precision clearance device, especially in the valve bodies. (It is beyond me why these automatic transmissions don't have external replaceable oil filters instead of a simple screen filter which goes back to the design era of the original Volkwagen beetle.

    Large ccommercial scale vehicles, e.g. those with Allison transmissions have external replaceable screw on oil filters.

    The Prius HSD transaxle on the other hand, has no friction wearing clutches inside the transaxle as that work is done by the planatery gearset controlled by the two enclosed motors running in oil cooled, pressure lubricated bearings.
     
  17. El Dobro

    El Dobro A Member

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    The S series Saturn had an external spin-on filter on their automatics. Another idea gone to waste.
     
  18. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    Since there is a line of transmission fluid going to and from the radiator, it would seem to be a pretty straight forward job of installing an external filter. With better fluids that reduce being cooked, and electronic controls to reduce clutch wear, automatic transmission life has come a long way. Overhauls might be in order at the 200k to 300k mark, but rebuilds for some engines might called far too.

    This is what has been done with a refurbished pack. It just has a warranty in case the modules and cells weren't balanced correctly.
     
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