Our Point of View: Prius Battery Change is No Big Deal

December 29, 2008

by Toyota Open Road Blog

You probably know that we’ve been selling our Prius hybrid here in the U.S. since 2001. So let’s do the mileage math: At an average of 15,000 miles per year for seven years, that suggests that these 2001 Priuses could have a bit more than 100,000 miles on them. Some of them probably have many fewer miles. But some of them undoubtedly have seen many more miles scroll past their odometers.
Which of course raises a question in which owners of these cars are deeply interested: What happens when the battery packs that are fundamental elements of the Prius package no longer can store electrical power?
Make no mistake, batteries do, in non-technical terms, wear out. What happens is that they no longer can maintain the electrical charge that is essential to their ability to supply electrical power. But having changed countless batteries in flashlights and other devices, you already know that, right?
It is a fact that some of our first-generation Priuses are still going strong with more than 200,000 miles on their original batteries. A couple of cars doing taxi service in Victoria, B.C., reportedly have seen 300,000 miles and in one case, 400,000 miles on the original batteries with what’s described as "very few maintenance issues."
This is not to suggest, mind you, that anyone else will see these kinds of miles on their Prius batteries. It is only to suggest that fears of premature battery failure probably are unwarranted.
That said, there will come a time when replacement of the car’s batteries will be required. So you should know that first of all, Prius batteries are warranted for 10 years or 150,000 miles in California-compliance states and eight years or 100,000 miles in non-California compliant states.*
And you also should know that the battery packs are available from any Toyota dealer. The MSRP for a battery pack for a first-generation Prius is $2,299, while the MSRP for the battery pack for the second-generation cars, those from the 2004-2008 model-years, is $2,588. This reflects three price reductions for the first-generation battery since it was introduced and two price reductions for the second-generation battery. Naturally, labor charges, which are set by each dealer, as well as possible charges from ancillary parts that could be required, should be added to that figure. Finally, we assume responsibility for recycling all of our hybrid batteries.
So on one hand, battery replacement in a Prius is neither as simple nor as inexpensive as replacing the battery in a conventional car. But on the other, once the job is done, a replacement battery pack should be capable of delivering many more miles of the clean, efficient transportation owners have come to expect from their Priuses.
Originally published on the Toyota Open Road blog on Dec. 29, 2008.
*Editor's Note: For 2001-2003 Prius models, hybrid batteries are warranted for eight years or 100,000 miles in California-compliance states.

Displaying comments 1 - 5 of 27:

PriusOwner said...
We bought a 2001 prius in 2002 with 22K miles on it for 17K. We have driven the vehicle for 143K miles with NO major mechanical expenses besides buying 4 sets of tires. We are still on the original brake pads... We often drive 100+ miles daily, most are freeway miles. Our mpg per tank is 47-52mpg. I would say our car has been VERY cost effective. @Frbl: no you cannot run a prious on the gas engine alone, the car's computer is wired to use the two engines together.
9/12/10 at 12:00 AM

Carguy said...
I have done the math. Even over 100,000 miles, NO hybrid is cost effective compared to a similar internal combustion car. And that is BEFORE you factor in a $3700 battery exchange. And the newer more efficient gasoline engines will keep the gap from narrowing soon.
8/31/10 at 12:00 AM

Matt said...
Entire Pack weighs less than 100 pounds
8/11/10 at 12:00 AM

MikeInMaine said...
Driver, you need to review the laws of thermodynamics. Your wind turbine and wheel alternators will produce less electricity than is consumed to turn them.
8/1/10 at 12:00 AM

Joe said...
Finally sold our VW TDI (96,000 miles old with scheduled maintenance) after giving up over persistent and expensive repairs (mostly related to turbo leaks). Our 2004 Prius is now 142,000 miles old with original battery also maintained by scheduled maintenance. Will not make that mistake again.
7/12/10 at 12:00 AM

Frbl said...
Once the battery pack is done for - can it be removed for weight savings and the gas engine used solo for what should be fairly decent MPG?
6/19/10 at 12:00 AM

al said...
need hv battery try parts .com OME replacement battery about $1800 do it yourself dealers are rip off
4/21/10 at 12:00 AM

storebatteries said...
Anyone know the weight of a 2nd generation battery pack? and, do you know how difficult it is to replace the battery pack? - is a forklift a necessity or just a couple of guys?
3/26/10 at 12:00 AM

joan v. said...
Not only is the replacement battery expensive, its only guaranteed for ONE YEAR!!! How does one get around this rip-off???
2/28/10 at 12:00 AM

Otis Maxwell said...
My 2001 battery failed today at 70K miles and I was told the replacement would be $3700 installed... that's the $2299 quoted here PLUS installation and tax. I have the * asterisk model which is out of warranty in 8 years, not 10, because I was an early adopter and evangelist for Prius. I feel betrayed and duped.
1/18/10 at 12:00 AM

janet said...
Where did you find the I HV battery for $1800? I need one.
1/14/10 at 12:00 AM

Erik said...
Battery is about 50lbs and located just behind the rear seat, making it easy out/in. I changed mine when I noticed drop in mileage and over night drain off and a constant engine charging and lack of power using my 100K old battery. So I concluded that the capacity of my 2004 was down and picked up a used 2007, which is an revised part #. Performance is back with 50+ mpg Lots of screws to remove and side kick panels with typical CPU wire plugs to pull. The orange disconnect makes it safe. Nothing needed on the ECM side. Only minor difficulty is the battery cables screws which are tight and on thin sheet and easy to mangle.
12/17/09 at 12:00 AM

nghia said...
My 2007 prius has 137,000 miles at the moment. The vehicle now running with the efficiency of 38 miles/gallon does it mean, I need to replace the new main battery?
12/8/09 at 12:00 AM

chelfea said...
Does anyone know what they mean by "california-compliance state"? I live in WA with a 2001 120k Prius and looking at a battery replacement.
11/11/09 at 12:00 AM

andy said...
i prefer the VW TDI jetta it lasts a lot longer and it is alot cheaper to maintain
11/10/09 at 12:00 AM

Driver604 said...
You know, Toyota Prius PHEV and the Toyota Prius 2010 is just a first step. The next step would be: 1.) PHEV in Toyota RAV4, Highlander and Camry 2.) Add Regenerative Brake System 3.) Add Solar Panels on the roof like (Prius 2010) 4.) Add Wind Turbine to the front grill and alternators to the wheels to recharge the batteries while the car is in motion. Points 1, 2, 3, 4 are all possible and can easily extend the driving range of the vehicle to over 3000 on a single charge and single tank fuel.
11/5/09 at 12:00 AM

Gar Harris said...
No worries about the HOV stickers. In California the gold/yellow ones are set to expire. I don't know about the silver EV-only ones. Anyone else know?
10/22/09 at 12:00 AM

M.S.Dickerson said...
I just priced the 2002 HV battery, and it lists for 1800$+. Installation additional. Your dealer is ripping you off. Go somewhere else. I have a 2002 with 193000 and the original HV battery - Many parts in cars nowadays are in the thousands of dollar ranges - The tranny is about 5000+, the ICE is about 6000$, and of course those pesky little things like the exhaust system (incl cats), for the Prius runs about 1600$. So the HV battery is dropping in cost, and considering the life of it, is not out of line for a price.
9/14/09 at 12:00 AM

Ed Doyle said...
I have a 2002 Prius and just had the battery replaced at 113000 miles. It's alot of money all at once but I anticipated that when I bought the car. The battery has exceeded my expectations. I have really enjoyed this little car and intend to drive it for many more years. One other thing to consider is how well this vehicle has held it value.
9/10/09 at 12:00 AM

Mike said...
I've always driven cars for as long as they had life left in them. I've had engines fail ('68VW at 50K miles), snap a crank shaft ('70 Rambler at 85K miles), throw a rod ('70 MGB at 60K miles) and sieze up ('87 GMC van at 55K miles). The VW and GMC were purchased new so I can vouch for good maintenance. I now own two Priuses (Prii?), a 2003 and a 2009, and tend to put 10K a year on them. If I have to buy a new battery pack after 10 or 12 years, it's better than rebuilding an engine after 6 or 7. If you don't want to have major repairs every decade or so, you'll have to buy a car with no moving parts....
8/10/09 at 12:00 AM

Steve Waters said...
I own a 2001 Prius with 100,000 miles and a 2004 with 167,000 miles. When I purchased the vechiles, I knew that the batteries would need replacement at some point. I get in excess of 40 MPG with both vechicles and repairs have been minimal (the 2001 has had the gas pedal and gas pump replaced) and the 2004 has been trouble free. With the money saved buying gas, SMOG inspections, travel in the HOV lanes and government rebates - the cars have been very economical. I've never had to have the brakes worked on - though I have had the brake fluid replaed. I am not looking forward to replacing the batteries, but I can accept this expense. Though I'm not a tree hugger - the idea of saving gas (a very valuable and limited resource) and minimizing pollution appeals to me. I'd like to buy the 3rd generation - but the HOV stickers are holding me back. in summary Keven - you made the right decision - hope you realize it. Regards!
7/27/09 at 12:00 AM

Keven Cobbledick said...
This message does not mention the difference in warranty coverege between the first generation and second generation Prius batteries. The first generation Prius batteries are only warranteed for 8 years/100,000 miles in California-compliance states. The second generation Prius batteries are warranteed for 10 years/150,000 miles in California-compliance states. I have a first generation Prius that has 122,000 miles and needs to have the hybrid battery replaced and I have to pay full price for the parts and labor. I have been working with Prius customer relations and the southern California Toyota Rep and district manager are not willing to to discount anything on the battery or on the labor. The cost for parts and labor to replace the hybrid battery is close to $3,700. At the moment I am not very happy with Toyota, and I will have to think long and hard before I buy car from Toyota; especially a hybrid.
7/9/09 at 12:00 AM

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