The Toyota Prius is THE car that started the whole hybrid vehicle revolution. Toyota introduced this very first mass produced hybrid vehicle to consumers in 1997, and now it is being sold in almost 80 countries! Global cumulative Prius sales passed the $3 million mark in June, 2013 and sales are continuing to grow.
As the Prius family continues to expand and older models are still on the road, more focus is being placed on their batteries; specifications, performance, battery life, cost of replacement and disposal. We thought we would break down each of these components for you and give you an insight into one of the most technologically advanced vehicles of our time.
The Prius currently uses a Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery (Ni-MH) producing 28 horsepower and 201.6 volts. The battery has evolved through the years however so depending on what year of Prius you own, you might have a different generation of battery. Below is a chart that gives you a picture of the Prius battery’s evolutionary process.
|Cells (Modules)||240 (40)||228 (38)/td>||168 (28)||168 (28)|
|Nominal Voltage||288.0 V||273.6 V||201.6 V||201.6 V|
|Specific Power||800 W/kg||1000 W/kg||1300 W/kg||1310 W/kg|
|Specific Energy||40 Wh/kg||46 Wh/kg||46 Wh/kg||44 Wh/kg|
The 2014 Prius has a 1.8 liter, 4 cylinder engine and when combined with its electric motor has enough power to produce 134 horsepower. At an EPA-estimated 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway, it has outstanding fuel economy. It might not be the fastest vehicle out there on the road, but it still offers plenty of power to suit most drivers.
PRIUS BATTERY LIFE
According to Toyota, the Prius battery is designed to last for 180,000 miles. They offer a 100,000 mile or eight year warranty in most states and up to 150,000 miles and 10 years in a few others.
PRIUS BATTERY REPLACEMENT COST
The cost of replacing a Prius battery is one of the fears and drawbacks of potential buyers. They can cost upwards of $5,000 to replace at some dealerships! When you have a vehicle that is at least 8 years old with over 100,000 miles, the Kelly Blue Book value is not too much more than that. Selling it with a failing or failed hybrid battery pack isn’t a viable option either.
There is a much more economical alternative to battery replacement, however, battery conditioning. Battery conditioning costs just a fraction of the price and will restore a hybrid battery to over 90% of its original performance.
Battery conditioning is basically cycling the battery pack. Certified hybrid technicians take the battery pack down to a zero percent state of charge, back up to one hundred percent and then back down to zero percent. They repeat this cycle two to three times, which will properly condition a hybrid battery. To learn more about this process, see the videos on our Technology page.
Toyota launched a battery recycling program in 2010. After a failed battery is removed, the battery pack is sent to a specialist recycling firm in California. Once they arrive at the recycling facility, they are broken down into parts. The nickel is smelted down as stainless steel and used in making refrigerator doors, and the plastic casings, electrolytes and other elements are all recycled and used in their appropriate industries.