The Toyota Prius has evolved into more eco-friendly and efficient versions through five generations. This evolution has left numerous older Prius models burdened with high mileage and weary batteries on the roads. However, a new trend is emerging among DIY enthusiasts: upgrading their venerable hybrids with lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries, resulting in enhanced fuel efficiency and a boost in performance.
Up to the fourth generation, the older Prius models predominantly used nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. These batteries, while cost-effective, compromise on performance, being bulkier and less powerful compared to their lithium counterparts.
Project Lithium, or NexPower, is leading the charge in this battery revolution. They offer lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cell upgrade kits for a range of old Prius models and other Toyota and Lexus hybrids. This technology is also used in many modern Tesla vehicles due to its safe chemistry that does not catch fire should it rupture.
This upgrade isn't just about restoring lost power but elevating the driving experience. A weak hybrid battery hampers the car, making it less enjoyable and overly dependent on its combustion engine, resulting in poor performance and fuel economy. A lithium battery breathes new life into these old cars, extending their electric-only driving range and improving hill-climbing and long-distance capabilities.
The brains behind Project Lithium, Jack, showcases this transformation on his YouTube channel, detailing the upgrade of his 2006 Prius. He adeptly replaces the original 1.31 kWh NiMH battery with high-performance lithium modules, reducing the battery weight and significantly boosting capacity.
These lithium (LFP) packs, available from Project Lithium, start at $1,600 for the Prius C and go up to about $5,000 for larger hybrids like the Toyota Highlander or GM Tahoe. The investment pays off in terms of fuel economy, as observed by Prius owners on forums and Reddit, reporting up to 26% fuel savings (or more) and extended all-electric driving ranges.
Project Lithium offers DIY kits and collaborates with a network of installers for those less electrically inclined.
The performance improvements may be modest but noticeable, especially in sustained high-load scenarios like uphill drives or passing on the highway.
The bottom line? While the financial savings in fuel might not justify the upgrade for every Prius owner, those with a dead battery stand to gain the most in fuel economy and peak performance. It's about rekindling the love for upgrading your hybrid with the latest technology. This aftermarket movement is a testament to the growing familiarity and enthusiast support for hybrids and EVs, keeping these pioneering vehicles running longer and better.
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A recent video tweet by a famous Tesla blogger from China claims that this new Tesla store in Chongqing, China, is the best in the world. The video of the store is going viral.
The store, which is located in the Chongqing-JIEFANGBEI Starlight Plaza, features a 3D ground painting that combines the Tesla Gigafactory Shanghai and Chongqing landmarks.
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 reporter.