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Lifetime of a Toyota Prius

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Posted by Phil on January 19, 2007, 4:37 am

I am looking at purchasing a Prius and as I was researching I found an
article that quoted an Australian manager from Toyota on the lifetime
of the battery and the car.  I have pasted the paragraph below

Toyota's manager of alternative fuels and specialized vehicles, Vic
Johnstone, concedes the batteries, like the car itself, are built to
less than a decade. "The life of the car and the battery are
supposed to be the same... around 8 to 10 years," he said. "We're
not expecting to replace them [the batteries]. In fact we only hold
one [replacement] battery in stock nationally."

This seemed a very short lifetime for a car to me so I researched the
matter further.

Other sites quoted toyota as saying the lifetime of the car is about
109,000 miles (174,400 km).  Travelling about 9400 miles (15000 km per
year) this makes the lifetime of the Prius around 9 years.

If this is indeed the case it makes the lifetime cost of the Prius very
high compared to the average vehicle which should last at least 16
years (travelling 15,000 km annually).

Can anyone give me any more information on the accuracy of this
information or add to the discussion.

Posted by Michael Pardee on January 19, 2007, 12:56 pm

Oh no! The 2002 I bought a few months ago has only 3K miles to live!

Seriously, the reason so few batteries are stocked is because the demand is
so low. I've lost count, but altogether I've heard of perhaps a dozen main
battery replacments. The symptoms in each case pointed to failing
connections within the battery, possibly within individual cells, rather
than loss of capacity. Age seems to be a minor factor. I've never heard of a
Prius being scrapped because it needed a main battery.

The supply of batteries from wrecks greatly exceeds the demand. A member of
the Yahoo! Prius Technical Stuff forum bought a main battery on ebay for
$00 for experimentation... not bad, considering the core value of a battery
is $00 US from Toyota.

I hadn't heard if the owner of the Yahoo! Prius forum reached 200K miles on
his 2001 yet; the last I recall was something like 194K miles. The first
owner to exceed 200K miles was probably the famous (in some circles)
Vancouver taxi owner whose service record extends through 206K miles -

Compare this with Ford Taurus automatics, which had a design flaw in the
forward clutch piston that effectively limited the life of the vehicle to
125-150K miles.


Posted by mrv@kluge.net on January 19, 2007, 6:27 pm

Michael Pardee wrote:

Eric posted about passing 200,000 miles at:

according to his signature on his most recent post,
http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/toyota-prius/message/98880  , his
vehicles are up to:
Eric Metzler in Enfield, Maine
'00 Silver Insight #223, "Alumena"
106,000 miles, 57.1 mpg over last 72,000 miles
'01 Green Prius, "Genie"
205,000 miles, 40/46 winter/summer mpg
'04 Tideland Pearl Prius pkg. 9, "Puddleglum"
70,000 miles, 46mpg (less in winter)

and another hybrid taxi owner in BC is now over 254,000 miles as well:

Meanwhile, I still can't believe that people are still quoting the CNW
paper with a Prius lifetime of only ~100,000 miles...  That report is
so riddled with poor assumptions (causing bad math) as to reek of
anti-hybrid propaganda.

(I suppose that if you counted all the vehicles disposed of early by
accidents, as opposed to those scrapped by age/wear/repair costs, then
maybe you could sufficiently drag down a vehicle's lifespan, but that
doesn't help with longevity questions but more with insurance
questions... (I guess this is similar to how infant mortality rates
greatly affect a population's life expectancy.)

Some articles for further reading:
http://pressroom.toyota.com/Releases/View?id=TYT2004062345528  (bench
testing of hybrid battery)
http://avt.inl.gov/pdf/hev/end_of_life_test_1.pdf  (fuel economy and
battery capacity testing once  160,000 miles are reached on a Classic
Prius, GenI HCH, Insight)
http://avt.inl.gov/hev.shtml  (HEV testing)
(all vehicles tested are expected to have a life cycle of ownership of
only 8 years)
http://www.arb.ca.gov/regs/title13/2112.pdf  (California Code of
Regulations, title 13, requiring vehicles to have a useful life of
(depending on passenger vehicle) 5 years/50,000 miles (whichever occurs
first), or 7 years/75,000 miles, 10 years/120,000 miles, or 10
years/150,000 miles.  See Division 3, chapter 2, Article 2.1, section
10 and 17. (BTW: 2004-current Prius qualifies under the 10 year/150,000
mile criteria.))

Posted by Sherman on January 21, 2007, 6:21 am

When my battery dies i'm replacing it with a plug-in kit like the ones at

On Fri, 19 Jan 2007 10:27:13 -0800, mrv@kluge.net wrote:

Posted by mrv@kluge.net on January 27, 2007, 6:09 pm

So, I guess the question is - how do you define vehicle life
expectancy?  Is it how long the car should last if outside forces do
not interfere (just the health of the components of the vehicle), or
is it the average of all of the vehicles of that type last (even
adding in early deaths due to accidents)?

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