• Jan 5, 2012
It hasn't happened for most Totoya Prius drivers, but one day – perhaps 150,000 or so miles down the road – it will. An indicator light will appear on the dash to signal that the battery pack is past its prime and needs to be replaced.

Some critics of hybrids and electric vehicles have pointed to this moment as proof that these vehicles actually have more environmental impact than conventional autos, as battery packs potentially clutter up landfills with toxic materials. Only, that's not what's happening at Toyota.

When a Prius battery pack reaches end of life, Toyota provides a UPS shipping container so the battery can be sent to a recycling center. For U.S. cars, that center is in California. The batteries are shorted out to prevent accidents with any remaining charge, then all of the components are disassembled. The plastic case is shredded and recycled. The electrolyte is decanted and the rare earth elements recovered. The nickel plates are sent to a smelter where they are used in making steel. All the components of the pack are recycled or reused, leaving nothing to go to the landfill. The same recycler is already equipped to deal with the lithium batteries found on the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and plug-in Prius.

Of course, there is the problem of cost. Toyota has lowered the price over the years, but a new Prius battery pack still rings up at $2,589. And while some Prius batteries are fine up to 300,000 miles, facing a potential bill that large can make Prius owners decide that seeing 150k miles on the odometer makes a good time to trade. It can also make buying a used Prius with mileage in 6-digits unattractive. That's why some dealers have instituted a policy of replacing batteries on high mileage trade-ins before they're put up for sale.

Having a fresh battery on board assures purchasers that they'll drive for years without worrying about that little light, and helps assure dealers that a used Prius won't spend too long on the sales lot.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 59 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      It appears to be correct that cobalt is more benign than I had realised. The relatively high price of cobalt also means that the net costs of recycling are reduced. Withdrawn.
      PR
      • 3 Years Ago
      Or, instead of buying a brand new battery pack for a car with 150K to 300K miles, just have your current battery pack rebuilt or replaced with a used battery from a junk yard for a fraction of the price of an entire brand new battery from Toyota. That is what is typically done with an engine or a transmission on gas cars with 150K-300K miles. You don't see people going to the dealership to buy a brand new Toyota transmission or engine to put in a high-mileage used car. Or even better, rebuild your own older generation pack with newer generation battery cells and do the work yourself for a few hundred dollars (google it). How many people can rebuild their own automatic transmissions or their own engines for a few hundred dollars? Not many. Toyota might want to highlight their recycling program for public relations reasons, I can respect that. But the good old-fashioned method of recycling by parting out perfectly good parts off of wrecked cars, and rebuilding to replace just the bad parts of a product still work for EV's/PHEV's/Hybrids just as well as they have worked for decades with gassers.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PR
        Replaceable cells is a very, very good idea. They are batteries, people. We have been replacing them since we were kids. Match up th + with the + and the - with the minus. It doesn't take me to figure that out.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Except that these batteries are wired in series, with + on one connected to - on the next. But it still isn't difficult, just use the same wiring pattern for + and - that was in the original. Oh, and be careful, the voltage gets really high, and a short can be a spectacular disaster.
          PR
          • 1 Day Ago
          @EZEE
          Chris M -- You do have to 100% discharge the battery pack first before rebuilding it. So while the voltage of a fully charged battery pack might be very high, the voltage of a fully drained battery pack is near zero. It's like checking a dead 9V battery using your tongue. If it's dead, your tongue can cross the + and - posts with no problem. But if the battery isn't dead, BZZTTTT!! Drain the battery pack, and you don't have to worry at all about getting shocked.
      Chris M
      • 2 Years Ago
      One thing that wasn't mentioned is that Toyota offers $200 for the used NiMH battery. It's worth that much for recycling. Toyota even put a label on the battery pack to inform customers of that.
      LEONARD
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why do this when the packs still have a life for off grid storage solar wind etc.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @LEONARD
        Repurposing 24kwh battery packs from the Leaf is one thing, messing around with the 1.4kwh packs for the Toyota another.
          DarylMc
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Let us hope in a few years the 24kwh pack isn't 17 x the price.
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a mess, the money saved on gas will be lower then the replacement cost, this prove that these gadget batteries don't add-up to the value of the car. What will happen to pure bev when the battery is dead, it will cost a lot more then the prius battery and on top of that the car will be completely struck contrary to the volt and prius that can still be driven to the dealer.
        goodoldgorr
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        It's me that is shopping in this article. Consumers are always right.
          Chris M
          • 1 Day Ago
          @goodoldgorr
          And we keep telling you, this is NOT the shopping channel! You can't buy any cars here, you've got to go to a dealer, or the car makers website.
          goodoldgorr
          • 1 Day Ago
          @goodoldgorr
          This is a shopping website i told you. This website explained that the leaf and volt are actually for sale except it isn't near where i live but it will be for sale sooner or later. In this website we can negociate with the sellers because they read what we write. So they offered or will be offering very soon the volt for exemple but im more interrested in one of their fuelcell car or suv with an hydrogen electrolyzer put inside the fuelcell car or suv. It's me that negociate democratively here for the purchase of my next car that i want to be up to date with all the latest and not commercialized yet technological amenuities.
        MTN RANGER
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Actually, if a Volt's battery goes, the car will not run period. The ICE serves to provide electricity to the battery and the electric motor.
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        @gorr Oh STFU already you blabbering idiot! A Prius saves $2000 in gas EVERY YEAR over a mid side ICE sedan. That's $12,000 over 6 years of driving, far more than the cost of a battery.
        skierpage
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        No one's forcing you to be math-illiterate in public. Over 120,000 miles, a 50 mpg car will save 1,029 gallons over a 35 mpg car, and most Prius battery packs are lasting longer than that. Your gas savings are greater than the pack cost. Here's the spreadsheet https://spreadsheets.google.com /pub?key=0AsrBLktJsSovdFZnMk1oX1FCOTFoX05ySlpoQV9lU0E Besides, if you insist a better car pay for itself with the gas savings, you can go stand at the back of the line behind all the buyers who value more fuel-efficient cars for a host of other reasons. Cost ≠ value.
      HVH20
      • 3 Years Ago
      Step 1: Identify the bad cell Step 2: Replace the bad cell with a good one Step 3: Re balance the battery pack Step 4: Continue driving again. Rebuild your hybrid battery packs, don't trash them! These recycling centers should only be used for disassembling dead cells, not decreased capacity or perfectly fine cells.
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        Exactly. The thing that is super-cool about the Prius battery pack, is that the computer will tell you exactly which cells are bad before you even drop the battery.
          • 1 Day Ago
          @PR
          how so i know which is the bad cell? i Have a 2001 prius and all the cells have good voltage (7.3-7.4) but i don't know which one is the bad cell? can anyone help please!!!!!! I am desperate!!!!!! -Mike
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have a 2007 Prius with 111k miles on it, and my battery pack just went out, but the warranty only covers up to 100k miles. I've been quoted $4000 from my local dealer with labor to have it replaced. I've reached out to Toyota to see if they will do the right thing and am supposed to hear back within one business day.
        EVnerdGene
        • 3 Years Ago
        Why does everyone think that someone else should take care of you? Someone else should always have to pay. pussyfication of america led by the biggest one of them all
        usbseawolf2000
        • 3 Years Ago
        That sucks, Jeff. You can get a brand new replacement online from a Toyota dealer for $1,941.50. Keep in mind, the old one is worth $200 as bounty fee. http://www.trademotion.com/shoppingcart/index.cfm?action=addItem&catalogid=1&partid=5540595&make=34&model=Prius&year=2007&siteid=213747&partname=,%20Battery%2C%20prius&retVal=index%2Ecfm%3Faction%3DgetJointLocator%26siteid%3D213747%26chapter%3D%26Sectionids%3D%26groupid%3D0%26subgroupid%3D0%26componentid%3D0%26make%3D34%26model%3DPrius%26year%3D2007%26catalogid%3D1
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hopefully they will take care of you. If not, you might consider something like this for much less: http://www.ebay.com/itm/2004-2009-Toyota-Prius-Hybrid-Battery-Pack-/140675911362?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&vxp=mtr&hash=item20c0f00ec2 2004-2009 Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery Pack. Image not available * Enlarge Sell one like this 2004-2009 Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery Pack. Item condition: Remanufactured Compatibility: This information is not available. Price: US $1,675.00 Buy It Now
        paulwesterberg
        • 3 Years Ago
        I would think you could get one for cheaper than that. I would get a quote from somewhere else. The batteries are for sale for less than 1000 all over the internet. I bet there are a number of batteries that are in good shape but the rest of the car was totaled in a front-end collision.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          Batteries from an Electric Car involved in a car accident? Run! Run for your lives! You only have THREE WEEKS! Kidding..sheesh you people....
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          @ ezee Too late! how would you like your junkyard dog? Lightly fried or well done?
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        Jeff - does the car still run? If so, what is the difference?
        JeremyD
        • 3 Years Ago
        Do you live in CA... i think the warranty there is required to be 150k... man 111k / 5years and the battery is done!? That's week sauce Toyota!
          cwerdna
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JeremyD
          Yep. If Jeff lives in CA or other CARB emissions states, the HV battery is warranted for 10 years/150K miles. Hope Toyota is willing to help you out. If not, see http://prius.wikia.com/wiki/Failed_traction_%28HV%29_battery,_what_to_do%3F.
          JeremyD
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JeremyD
          You know I hear a lot of the time, the connectors on the battery get corroded and return false positives. You may want to have your current battery inspected.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      My favorite line: The batteries are shorted out to prevent accidents with any remaining charge.... As I said with the Volt, 'It don't take no PhD to figure this sh*t out!'
        EVnerdGene
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        did you notice they're shipped to californ and then shorted ?
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          I just liked the brilliance of it all. Soon as I heard of the volt issue, I was dumbfounded. 'What? You didn't discharge the batteries? You idiots.'
          Ele Truk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          I wouldn't want to rely on the consumer shorting out a 300 volt battery pack.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think the idea is that Toxoco is the name, toxic waste is the game! I thought a good idea to advertise a drain unblocking company would be to pinch the theme from 'Ghost Busters' - 'Who you gonna call? *** Busters!'
      • 1 Year Ago
      $2199 for remanufactured from Hybrid Battery Depot and they buy your old one and you ship it to them at their expense in the container they shipped to you.
      Robyn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Want to start making some extra incomé every month? You can... For more information, visit following website http://www.LazyCash39.com .....Your extra incomé is just a click away... Don't miss it
      JeremyD
      • 3 Years Ago
      When I bought my FFH, the battery was stated to last the life of the car... I thought that was the case with the Prius too.
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