Back in 2004 we were looking to buy a car. I went out and test drove every car available that was rated at over 32 mpg (highway). It included the Civic, Mini, Scion, Mazda 3, a VW diesel, and a Prius (that I recall). I developed a spreadsheet that showed how much each would cost us over the next five years, based on estimates for maintenance, new tires every 35,000 miles, and gas. To factor in gas price increases I used $2.50 a gallon as an average price and adjusted the gas cost for each vehicle based on the fuel it needed (such as diesel for the VW and premium for the Mini).
Because of something the Toyota dealer in Clarksville told us, I also factored in the cost of doing a replacement of 50% of the battery cells in the Prius. The dealer indicated that they were unsure of how well the batteries would do and the replacement cost (at that time) was around $2,300. The warranty was “only” 100,00 miles on the batteries. Of course, I ignored the fact that the warranty on the entire rest of the car was 36,000 miles and it was fully reasonable to expect the car would do at least five times that without any major problems. If the batteries were only twice as good as the warranty it would have been fine.
Since then, I’ve read reports of a guy n Canada that converted his entire taxi fleet in Toronto to Priuses (Prii?) and all went well past 200,000 miles. Now (OK, back in January) even Consumer Reports has shot that “battery failure demon” straight through the heart. And the results?
… we borrowed a 2002 model with 206,000 miles on the odometer. Then we put it through some of the same tests we ran almost exactly 10 years earlier on a nearly identical 2001 tested car with 2,000 miles. We checked whether the battery had worn down, which would be expensive to fix because a new one costs $2,300 to $2,600 from a dealer (more like $500 from a salvage yard). We timed acceleration. And we determined whether the mpg was as high in the aged car as it had been in the new one.
Their overall mileage was about .2 less and that could have been due to the car needing a tune-up or cold weather. Acceleration was basically unchanged. The battery had not worn out and the car drove and handled pretty much like it did a decade before. It didn’t even have rattles.
The new Prius uses a lithium-polymer battery instead of the nickel metal hydride ones. Lithium-polymer is newer and better technology and the manufacturers are offering better warranties on them. Worry warting about batteries isn’t justified.