Flashback Friday: Original Prius Owner Still In Love Today


2002 Toyota Prius. Image Credit: GoldScotland71 on Flickr.
2002 Toyota Prius.
Image Credit: GoldScotland71 on Flickr.

People have been uncertain about the viability of hybrid-electric cars for many years, despite the fact that hybrid cars were manufactured even back in 2001 (12 years ago), and this is partly due to the fact that the hybrid car industry is in its infancy. After all this time, people should hear a detailed testimony from a lifetime owner of a hybrid car.

This is the story of a friend of mine named Michael from the heart of oil country, Houston, Texas. Michael purchased his Toyota Prius new in 2001, and has had it ever since then. It now has over 160,000 miles on it, and he has had it for 12 mostly trouble-free years.

He mentioned very few problems with it. It was defective when he first purchased it — One of the cells in its battery pack was faulty, so it was replaced under warranty. This defect may make some people nervous about the reliability of the car. However, the batteries lasted 12 years after that. He said that now “I occasionally get a strange error that results in loss of power, which could be another cell going bad, not surprising after 12 years”. He also mentioned a minor fuel-efficiency decrease, worn rear shock absorbers, and accidents; typical wear and tear on a 12-year old car.

There were seven accidents. Two of which were major enough to require the reconstruction of the front and rear end of the Prius, but the car is still going strong.

The 12-year lifespan may sound unusual to people who are accustomed to replacing cellphone batteries after two to three years, and opponents of vehicle electrification cite the fact that their cellphone batteries last only three years as a reason for their opposition. Cellphone batteries are not of the same type. Cellphone batteries are often of the lithium-cobalt type (a member of the lithium-ion family).

The first-generation Prius batteries were usually of the Ni-MH type. Today, hybrid cars (including the Prius Plug-In) often utilize lithium-ion batteries, which are far more powerful, more efficient, lighter, they provide longer range per charge, and they last at least 10 years on average. Still, you won’t find my friend complaining when it comes to his Prius and its performance.

My Website: Kompulsa

About the Author

loves attending and writing about/photographing events, and he writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, automobiles, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography.

  • UncleB

    Toyota engineering gets a big plus here. Will the add a diesel to the American hybrid line? Wheel hub drives? rapid charge systems for plug in hybrids? I see an electric America on the horizon?

  • Greg

    “… Still in love today.” Said nobody ever.

  • Jason Carpp

    I like the first generation Toyota Prius. Although skeptical at first, I’ve come to like the Toyota Prius, and hybrid technology in general. I only wish that Toyota, and other manufacturers would come up with diesel-electric hybrid technology for trucks, heavy-duty trucks and SUVs.

    • Feri

      They have, Hino has hybrid so do several others

      • Jason Carpp

        I’ve seen Hino heavy trucks.

  • Preston

    Seven accidents?! Good lord…

    • Christopher DeMorro


      In fairness, that is one every, what, 1.75 years? Not great, sure, but none of them could have been that bad.

  • Jan

    The original Prius taxi in Vancouver went 450,000 kilometres. Toyota took it back to Japan and dismantled it to look at how it wore. Other drivers doubted that the Prius could stand up to taxi use but it had no problems at all and now half our taxi’s are Priuses.

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  • cfw

    Just had to replace the battery in my 2004 Prius at 79k miiles. $3400.. ouch!

    • jameskatt

      Wow. Cheap. Less than a new transmission or engine. Still though, that is only a few miles.

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