Has Hybrid Battery Life Improved?

A 3rd Generation Toyota Prius Ni-MH battery. (Image: Toyota)

While the new Tesla Model 3 may the automotive topic getting the most press these days, another vehicular subject close to my heart is the battery life of hybrid vehicles. Why hybrid battery life, you ask? My fiance recently purchased a gently used Lexus RX 450h with close to 50,000 miles on the odometer and a few years of modest wear under its hood. While reviewing the vehicle for the customary potential mechanical issues, one also has to ask — when dealing with a hybrid vehicle — how have the batteries held up?

While it’s undeniable that hybrid battery technology has improved mightily over the years since the first Toyota Prius was unveiled in Japan in 1997 — witness the 3rd Generation Ni-MH battery from the Toyota Prius, shown above — some earlier batteries did have issues after the odometer crept into six figures, as outlined by this Newsweek article from 2008 entitled The High Cost of Low Batteries.

Granted, most of the concerns outlined in the article proved to be unfounded, but there’s still that nagging question in the back of my mind: Are hybrid car batteries more reliable and longer-lasting than they used to be? That’s why I’d like to throw this question out to Driveline Blog readers who have experience with older hybrid vehicles. Were you satisfied with how long the hybrid batteries lasted? And if you did have to replacement them, was the cost of replacing them a reasonable one?

So I’d love to hear from you: Just add a comment to this blog post or send a Tweet or two to the @DrivelineBlog Twitter account.

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