Toyota Prius taxi tops 340,000mi, dispels battery myth

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Toyota Prius taxi tops 340,000mi, dispels battery myth

Toyota Prius taxi tops 340,000mi, dispels battery myth

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Worries over the serviceable lifespan of battery packs have been at the forefront of many critics dislike of hybrid cars. With doom-and-gloom scenarios of pricey replacements and short service life, the pundits have posited the Prius' long-term impracticality. But an Australian taxi outfit has compiled enough real-world data to put that idea to sleep.

With 32 Prius taxis operating in his Cairns, Queensland fleet of Black and White Taxis, owner Graham Boundy knows the truth about high-mileage hybrids - and it's surprisingly good. Each car racks up about 200,000km (125,000mi) each year. Two of the older examples have managed a lifespan of 350,000km (218,000mi) and 550,000km (341,000mi) before needing replacement of their nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. The only problem even at the end of their battery pack service life was a low voltage reading.The cars have been in service since September, 2005, and Bounds has ordered another 8 to bring his fleet total to 40.

According to Toyota Australia's manager of hybrid sales and fleet strategy Vic Johnston, the use seen in the highest-mileage car during those three years equates to roughly 36 years of normal road use. The math works out a bit differently across the pond in the U.S., with a 15,000mi per year average equating to roughly 16 years of use. Still, that's impressive for a hybrid, and in fact equal to or better than a person might expect of trouble-free service from a similarly priced standard combustion-powered car's engine.
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Comments (16)
  1. thats sweet noe make a new one look better

  2. They can't make it look better (than the third gen) unless they reduce the aerodynamic efficiency of the car, and then the car would get less MPG. The third generation Prius looks better.

  3. That is good news.
    While I don't readily agree with the Hybrid concept and it's inherent complexity and added cost, I applaud Toyota for building the car people want at a time they want it.

  4. very interesting. may consider the next generation prius or the next honda hybrid...

  5. I still don't think that hybrids are a true solution to our problems (they still use gas after all) but I have been wondering how long these batteries last for quite a while now.

  6. to Gus:

    Actually, the Prius is very simple mechanically. The transmission for instance has just 22 moving parts, no torque converter, no clutch, no CVT belts. The engine has no timing belt (everything is controlled electronically), no alternator or starter solenoid to wear out.

    The complexity of the Prius is in its computers and electronics. And solid-state things with no moving parts tends to have longevity (as long as the electronics are built using high-quality components).

    The mechanical simplicity of the Prius is one of the reasons why it actually costs LESS to maintain than a normal car.

  7. Uh, the valves on the engine are NOT electronically controlled. It has a timing chain like a lot of engines today and the valves are controlled by an overhead cam.

  8. How much does a replacement battery cost??

  9. Worrying about the cost of the battery cell(s) is irrelevant (each cell(s) can be replaced individually at about $900 per),Toyota warranties them for 10 years/150000miles. Think of the Prius as a Sony PS3, it is highly subsidized by Toyota. The bill of materials alone exceed the suggested retail price. Did you know that renting a Prius is akin to renting a premium car, you could rent a Truck for less. A Prius is considered exotic in So Cal as it is not uncommon to see a S550 and Prius in a given McMansions driveway

  10. The headline is false. 340,000 miles is the sum of the two highest mile cars at the point where they both needed batteries replaced.

    This story begs the question, What does it cost to replace the batteries?

  11. Two things are missing here ... at what efficiency are these batteries working at the 'end' of their life cycle, if they started at '100%' and are now at 15% then I'm not really impressed at all by the mileage. Second, continually running these cars without stopping, you incurr much less wear and tear and recharging load on the batteries (turning the motor on and off). A normal driver puts in 10,000~ 15,000 miles (for argumanet's sake) in the US at least, these figures of 125,000 miles to 218,000 miles per year imply a rate of recharging of 9~28 times less strenuous on their fleet. This can make a huge difference. It is very difficult to extrapolate this data and apply it to regular day-to-day type driving.

    This can hardly be called an apples to apples comparison.

  12. To: Gordy

    "Two of the older examples have managed a lifespan of 350,000km (218,000mi) and 550,000km (341,000mi) before needing replacement of their nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries."

    Exactly where did you read that 340k mi was the sum of both hybrids? From what I read there, one Prius got 218,000 while the other got to 341,000 mi before needing replacement, I don't see anywhere in article that it's the sum total of both the hybrids hence the headline is true.

  13. It doesn't matter what anyone says. There'll always be the Prius Hybrid skeptics who will always somehow manage to pick out flaws and debate mindlessly without any consideration on engine reliability and the probability of failures. So what if you need to replace a battery that costs $500-$3000 (second hand - brand new) after running for 400,000km or after it's lifetime (10 - 15 yrs)? I've owned 2 normal petrol cars - an 11 yr old pulsar and a 12 yr old honda accord. Both cars gave me engine problems. I could choose to replace the entire engine that could cost thousands of dollars, or patch it up for $900 and hope it works for another couple of years. The reality is petrol cars do have problems. One must consider the probability of a failure happening within the lifetime of the car. Toyota is well known for it's engine reliability and the chance of failure of its HV battery is at 0.003%. Sure there have been cases of batteries failing during its lifetime... same goes for a normal car, however, we all know it's rare. Another analogy I'd like to use is taking a plane and hoping you're not a statistic. Planes have a low chance of crashing but it does crash. When it does crash, it is devastating both emotionally and financially. Does that deter us from not take a plane just because there have been cases of planes crashing?

    The Prius is not designed to satisfy everyone's needs. You just need to be rational when evaluating a hybrid to ensure it meets your needs. It is without a doubt a highly reliable car. With high fuel prices and if you're a regular traveller, owns at least a midsize car, the Prius does make a lot of financial sense as well as environmental sense.

  14. We bought a used Prius less than a year ago based on these glowing reports of battery life. We just got back from a 2 week vacation, during which our Prius sat un used. Now we have all kinds of warning lights and the dealer says it needs a new HV battery pack. Cost estimate $3000.
    It's a 2001 and we're told it was commissioned in March so our 8 years is up on the warranty, and the mileage on this battery pack is 98,000 miles.

    I hope others who have had battery failure will speak up, so we can get some updated info on life expectancy.

  15. Um, are you sure it was dead, or just discharged? Maybe it just needed to be recharged.

  16. I own a 2006 Prius that I currently have 227,000 miles. Other than replacing the water pump at 100K, there have been no mechanical problems. Brakes and spark plugs were first done once at 130K, only thing else has been oil changes every 5-7K, and tires. I'm still averaging 46 MPG on my 150 mile (round trip) daily commute. Best car I've ever owned, I'd buy another in a heartbeat.

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