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.
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