Thinking about getting a green car but concerned about hybrid car-battery costs? Good news: we’ve broken down the expected costs to help with your decision.
Short answer: a hybrid-car battery costs around $3,000-$5,000 for the most common hybrid, the Toyota Prius. The larger battery pack used in plug-in hybrids costs proportionally more. The plug-in Prius uses two battery packs, both identical to the one in the conventional Prius, so the replacement cost for a plug-in Prius would be double, or $6,000-$10,000. This just for the battery itself; labor costs, for installation, are extra, and the job takes about four hours. Other hybrid batteries will be priced in the same ballpark, and prices are constantly going down as the industry matures.
Also, don’t be confused by advertised retail: there’s a substantial “core charge” of about $1,000 (or more) that will be deducted from that price for your old battery, even if it had totally failed. The actual price of your new hybrid car battery will be lowered by the value of the core charge. No, you can’t keep your old battery to power your off-the-grid cabin or your homebuilt EV: it must be turned in, where it will be recycled or reused by the manufacturer.
Long answer: You probably won’t ever need to buy a replacement hybrid car battery. So far, all of the hybrid cars on the market have warranties on the battery pack of 60,000-150-000 miles, with periods of 8-10 years. These batteries are generally considered “life-of-car” items.
Experience in the field, now that hybrids have been on the road for 12+ years, is proving that the manufacturer’s engineered battery lifespan of 150,000 miles is conservative. And that includes data from taxicab fleets where it’s not uncommon to see cars with over 300,000 miles on the odo. The failure rate in these heavy-duty fleets is less than 1%.
There are third-party battery vendors that can sell you a rebuilt hybrid car battery—complete with a somewhat more modest warranty—for less than half of the cost of a new one. The supply of used batteries, salvaged from crashed vehicles is getting better, as there more hybrids are on the road. Used, tested good battery packs have been seen selling on eBay for as little as $500. That compares to the cost of a decent used engine or transmission.
More good news: the technology used to manufacture these battery packs is progressing rapidly, so the price will continue to steadily drop. If you’re still concerned about the possibility that your battery pack will fail prematurely and leave you hostage to a very expensive repair bill, consider leasing.
Image credit: Alessandro Prada, Flickr