Yeah, I may have created an enormous stir about a lithium-ion pack replacement for the Gen 2 Prius, but honestly, it was worth it. I am not here to brag about it but to give you insight into why I like the idea.
Here is what I can tell you about it and give some hints about what it may cost you to get one in the future.
Why I Like The Lithium-Ion Replacement Pack For Prius
As the Hybrid Guy, I love all things hybrid. My favorite hybrid, by far, is the Toyota Prius. I have now owned 13 total hybrids, 10 of them being Toyota.
I favor the second-generation Prius (2004-2009) mainly because the cars are little tanks. Usually, people sell them for cheap when they have problems because they can be expensive to repair.
Most repairs on the Prius I have found are cost-effective and straightforward if you are a handy DIYer. Many times though, the owners are tired of them and want something newer, so the price drops, and I can pick them up for cheap.
After a few fixes (and usually a thorough cleaning), I can get them back on the road for pennies on the dollar. I always learn everything I can with the car, do all the maintenance and then resell it. This has allowed me to work through many issues and develop less expensive ways to repair these cars.
One of Prius owners' most common issues is the dreaded aging and death of the original traction battery. By now, the battery packs have either been replaced by lower-quality refurbished units or had some genius replace a bad module without the proper conditioning.
At some point, we should get a better battery for an older car. Yes, and that is where this prototype battery comes in.
Another reason I like the idea of going to Lithium-ion is that it is well-researched battery chemistry. Significant advances have been made to produce a better, lighter, and more energy-dense battery.
If you could double the EV range of your Prius, would you do it? If you could see a 5 to 7 mile per gallon increase, would you want it? If you Prius was more responsive and quieter, would you do it? Of course, you would.
What I See With My Prototype
I can tell you what is happening with my Prius after installing the new battery. MPG went up by 5 miles per gallon. Stops and starts are much smoother. My test Prius is a high mileage one with 208,000 well-used miles. The EV range is impressive on it too.
Now I am getting into colder temperatures here in the pacific northwest, so I know that this is only the start of a beautiful relationship. Once warmer weather "springs" back then, I am sure I will have more to write.
What Is This Battery Going To Cost?
Cost is the question that I think everyone wants to know. Here is what I can tell you about lithium-ion production. It is improving at a rapid rate.
Tesla recently came up with a new way to produce lithium cells that is cheaper and more energy-dense. Have other companies that produce lithium cells started to follow suit? I cannot say for sure. I can tell you that the costs have come down significantly.
If I were to wager an educated guess, I would say that replacement lithium-ion modules would cost between $1600 to $3000 for NEW, not used, replacements. That, of course, may or may not include installation.
The second factor here is also how many of these things can also be produced. The more that can be made usually the less it will cost to manufacture. So if there is an order for a million modules, I hope we can see a better end cost for the consumer.
There are going to be many that disagree with me on keeping an older Prius alive. I like my car and to have an option that gives it an updated feel and performance. Yeah, I am going to do it. There are loads of others out there who want to keep their Prius around for as long as possible, so I am confident they would like to do it.
The haters will say, ditch the car, ditch the idea, throw it all away, and lithium replacements are useless. They will say there is no market for it and blah, blah, blah. Well, whatever, there is a huge demand for better replacements, and they are on their way, so watch out for them.
Have a great week, everyone, and I will see you in the next story.
Check out this wild new battery tech that Tesla has and why it will forever change the auto industry.
Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.