How long do hybrid batteries last?

I am looking to buy a used Toyota Prius, but someone told me I would have to get a new battery at 100,000 miles and the cost is $3,000 to $5,000 miles. Is that true? Also, how comfortable are the seats for long trips?

Andrea, Connecticut

This concern has been around since gasoline/electric hybrid technology started making headlines in the late 1990s thanks to new hybrids like the 2000 Honda Insight and 2001 Toyota Prius. Hybrids have large, high-voltage batteries that come with a hefty price tag. However, even after almost 10 years on the road, we still don’t have a firm grasp on the batteries’ life expectancy, though Toyota says its battery is designed to last the life of the vehicle. Depending on the vehicle, hybrid component warranties — which includes coverage of the battery — usually last for eight years or 80,000 to 100,000 miles and should cover any premature failure, at least up to that point. See our list of hybrid warranties here. Senior Editor Joe Wiesenfelder has been covering the auto industry through the hybrid boom, and he says it bears noting that almost all hybrid models have been above average in terms of reliability, and some have been excellent. So the question of long-term cost of ownership must be answered with that – not just the battery replacement cost (whatever it might be) – factored in.

Theoretically, even if you have to shell out a good chunk of change for a battery, your overall maintenance costs may even out when compared to a non-hybrid because of the hybrid’s lower cost of ownership. And as technology improves, we should see the cost of replacement batteries drop.

As for the Prius’ comfort on long hauls, Wiesenfelder says it can be done, but the seats aren’t the Prius’ strongest suit and you may be better off with the Camry Hybrid.

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Answered by Joe Bruzek on October 11, 2007 in What Car Should I Buy? | Permalink

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