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#1 2013-04-24 08:15:50

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,173
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Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

Hybrids aren't going to save us.  I always knew that hybrids couldn't be the cure-all that proponents make them out to be, because of the huge energy costs of producing the batteries, but I didn't know how the numbers stacked up.  So I just looked it up, and lifecycle conclusions are all over the map.  If we take the average of the studies I could find, then energy/CO2 savings from hybrids are around 22%.

~0  IFEU, 2010

10-24%  NTNU, 2012

11% Ricardo, 2011

34%  UCLA, 2012

32%  Carnegie-Mellon, 2008

42%  Seikei University, 2001

NTNU also cautions: "[The researchers] also found that EVs exhibit the potential for significant increases in human toxicity, freshwater eco-toxicity, freshwater eutrophication, and metal depletion impacts, largely resulting from the vehicle supply chain."

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#2 2013-04-24 11:33:03

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

As an auto repair shop owner that specializes in Asian cars I can tell you I would NOT own a Prius, and I got soured on and sold my Honda Civic Hybrid.  Texas heat plus a little global warming is killing the $3000 high voltage hybrid batteries right and left.  We have a Prius here right now with a bad hybrid battery and no telling when it will be fixed because the batteries are on back order in the entire Gulf States region.  The summer before last, it was a 6 week wait for a Prius battery.  No thanks!

When I am not on the bike, I am in a Honda Fit.

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#3 2013-04-24 19:40:38

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 549

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

Electric cars might save us, however, and plug-in hybrids are possibly a good middle ground (especially if the battery is large enough and charged often enough that most of the time you're running off electricity rather than gas.)  Assuming that we develop more sources of electricity that aren't simply burning the fossil fuels somewhere else (at the power plant rather than in the car), of course -- which is still a long way from actually happening, but we're making small steps in that direction.

I too have a Honda Fit.  It gets about 33 mpg, and I put about 9k miles on it each year.   So with current gas prices, that's about $1000/year for fuel.  (Hmm, doesn't seem like that much, but I guess it must be.)

Suppose I replaced that with a hybrid that got 50 mph.  That would drop my fuel price to $630/year, for a savings of $325/year.

If the battery pack costs $3000, that means it needs to last 9.2 years before needing replacing just to break even without actually saving me any money.  And that assumes that the hybrid car didn't cost more to begin with, which is very much not reality.

Maybe if gas were $10/gallon things it would make more sense.  Of course, at that price I'd expect people to be going with electric bicycles (or regular bicycles if they're not totally out of shape and can afford to sweat somewhat) instead.

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#4 2013-04-24 20:39:28

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

And you can put a bike in the back of a Honda Fit  (with seats down, of course) without even removing the front wheel.  One of the reasons I got rid of my Honda Civic Hybrid. 

We are finding a LOT of expensive problems with the Prius at over 100k miles -- it's not just the battery.

My Prius owners tell me they get mid 40s for mileage, but in most cases when if I check their onboard mileage tracker they are getting in the 30s.  Maybe one in 10 gets in the 40s.  50 mpg can be done but is rare.

All of our experience so far is that the Fit is one of the most trouble-free cars ever made.

Plug in all-electric is good, but not good that ultimately it comes mostly from coal.  And the batteries in a serious plug-in make for a car with very little interior room for a given exterior size.   

Don

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#5 2013-04-25 12:56:43

m1ek
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Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

So much misinformation in this thread.

We have 2 2004-generation Priuses. I drive the 04, which now has 80K miles on it; my wife drives the fancier 08 with about 40K miles on it.

1. Hatch is huge; you could fit two or three bikes in there with the seat down. Far more cargo space than the Fit. I've carried one of the city's green water barrels in there with the hatch closed.

2. Mileage is mid 40s if you drive like a typical suburbanite. Higher if you don't. My average tank MPG dropped from low 50s to upper 40s when ethanol was introduced into our gas supply; and now I'm pushing 46 after 9 years. I try slightly harder than not-at-all to get good mileage. Note there's no EV button on this generation of Priuses.

3. Most reliable cars we have ever owned. And this anectdote actually matches the data, unlike the contradictory ones from earlier in this thread; Consumer Reports has consistently found them to be among the most reliable cars available (#1 in several years).

4. Battery packs are simply not an issue. They will outlive the car.

5. Yes, at 100K you're probably seeing "a lot of problems". I've never had a car go even 80K before now before seeing some significant problems, and none of those were hybrids. 100K is an effective lifespan for most cars these days. (We've had this 04, which turned 9 in February, longer than any other car I drove).

6. The studies Michael agglomerated are a mixed bag - some, like the original Hybrids vs Hummer study, have been ripped apart a long time ago. Don't trust these.

7. Even in Texas, yes, even here, it's not fair to claim that all electric power comes from coal. Not even most comes from coal - it's a simple majority in Austin, but you can also choose to fix that on your end by enrolling in GreenChoice, if you charge at home (and a hell of a lot of employers are already in that program). Not that I care that much; I think the lithium batteries in the plugins have some substantial problems lurking compared to the tried/true nickel-metal-hydride, so I'm not touching them for at least another car generation.

Last edited by m1ek (2013-04-25 12:59:28)

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#6 2013-04-25 14:11:06

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

I never said there wasn't room in the hatch of a Prius.  I was frustrated by the lack of storage in my Honda Civic Hybrid.    Space is an issue on vehicles that need far more battery power to drive primarily on plug-in  battery power.  Example:  Chevy Volt

"Battery packs are simply not an issue. They will outlive the car."    Batteries do NOT flat-out outlive the car on a Prius.  I have lots of repair orders to the contrary and lots of Prius owners I have referred to the dealer when their batteries failed under warranty -- which is to say at less than 80k miles  The lowest mileage we have seen was a failure at 38k on a 2005.  This was referred to the dealer and it was several weeks before it was fixed because the demand for batteries exceeded the supply --
as it does again.   At this time there are 71 batteries on back order at Toyota's Gulf States regional parts depot in Houston.  That qualifies as an issue in my book.  There are 21 in transit to that depot.  My customer with a failed battery in her 2006 Prius with 109k miles is going to be in a rental car for a while.  I am happy for anyone who owns a Prius and has not experienced a high voltage battery failure-----yet.   The battery problems are pretty clearly a heat issue and I am sure national statistics are a lot better than for Texas.

"I've never had a car go even 80K before now before seeing some significant problems...."   You have not been as fortunate as many of my customers who have 150k miles and up on such cars as Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, Toyota Echo, and etc. etc. with NO major problems.  My daughter bought her Honda CRV with 110k miles on it and it is now at about 170k with nothing but routines services and a pair of sway bar links.  We service many cars that are young at 200k miles.  100k miles is very young for a modern car. 

I never said it was impossible to get 50 mpg in a Prius, I was reporting what most people actually achieve based on the computerized tracking.  I am glad for you that the mileage you achieve is in the top percentile of Prius drivers.   

I seem to have been in error regards the dominate source of electricity in Texas:  http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=TX#tabs-4  Looks like natural gas leads coal.  Everything else is way behind.

Don in Austin

Last edited by Donald Lewis (2013-04-25 14:14:35)

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#7 2013-04-26 16:32:43

rmonsees
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Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 39

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

My experience matches that of m1ek.  I bought a 2004 Prius new, and still have it.  It consistently averages 44 mpg, and can easily fit my bike in the back hatch.  No significant maintenance issues.  The only annoyance in the first couple of years is that twice we had the "exclamation point in triangle" indicator light up.  When that lights up, the manual tells you to stop the car and call the dealership.  Because of the complexity of the hybrid system, operating the car with certain problems can result in damaging expensive components.  Both times we stopped and had the car towed, and it turned out to be software problems.  Dealership covered all costs, including towing, but it was a hassle.  Other than that, I've been very happy with the car.

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#8 2013-04-30 09:20:11

m1ek
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Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

Donald, again, your anectdotes don't trump mine - especially since you're in a situation where you ONLY see the few people who have problems. Consumer Reports has shown this to be just about the most reliable car ever produced, and previous articles have pointed out that even if you need to replace a battery at 100,000 miles, the cost is similar to the transmission overhaul and/or replacement that the typical gas car requires at or about that point.

I've seen no evidence of a groundswell of battery replacements in the Prius fora on the internet. And there's little circumstantial evidence either. Consider that Toyota's warranty on the Gen 2 Prius (2004-2008) was 8 years / 100,000 miles (or 10 years / 150,000 miles in California and some other states). This warranty has stayed in place for the Gen 3 Prius. Why on earth would Toyota keep that warranty if the typical battery was dying at 90,000 miles? It'd be a huge money-loser for them.

As for the lack of battery replacements available, the original theory was that the main source for replacement batteries would be from wrecks. Maybe the Priuses that are wrecked aren't producing salvageable batteries in the degree envisioned. Producing new batteries for the replacement market is a difficult decision given that the battery producers have never been able to produce NiMH batteries in large enough quantities to service the new car market to the extent Toyota wanted.

As for car life, you may see people with car lives that long because of what you do. Honestly, the vast number of people who treat cars as appliances aren't going to 3rd-party mechanics.

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#9 2013-04-30 13:48:31

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

I just called the head of Champion Toyota parts department.  We have a 2006 Prius here waiting on a hybrid battery.  Estimated time of arrival is now about May 10th.  I asked him how many of those specific part # hybrid batteries he has been selling.  He told me 17 so far this month.  Of course there are lots of Prius cars in Austin.  But, judging by the last two summers, Prius battery season has not even begun.  Wait until August!

Modern cars routinely needing a transmission overhaul or replacement at 100,00 miles is not remotely typical.  That is one of the reasons one of my good bike riding partners went out of the transmission business and why you see transmission shops pushing brake, check engine light and all other manner of services in an attempt to stay afloat.

The long term warranty on a Prius battery is an EPA legal requirement -- just like on engine computers and catalytic converters.  And California laws require a longer warranty than federal.  Toyota is damn lucky that summers are mild in San Francisco!

Last edited by Donald Lewis (2013-04-30 14:16:05)

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#10 2013-04-30 14:05:45

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

And, FYI, that part number covers only 22 months of Prius production.  11/2005 to 09/2007

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#11 2013-04-30 15:54:25

m1ek
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Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

http://www.tirebusiness.com/article/201 … -you-think

"According to Eric Evarts, senior associate autos editor at Consumer Reports, "Most hybrids have been extremely reliable in our survey, and few have needed battery replacements. Even if you're one of the unlucky few, look at it this way: In the most popular hybrid design, from Toyota, there are virtually no wearable parts in the transmission. So if you have to spend $1,800 on a battery after 150,000 miles, you're still ahead of where you would have been in many less-reliable cars that are on their second or third transmission by then.""

As for the weather, California encompasses climates that are gentler and harsher than Texas'. And a bunch of other states are covered by the same warranty (although those other states are harsher only on the cold side).

As for the supposed 17 new batteries per month, go back and see what their sales rate was in 2004 and 2005.

The long-term battery warranty for California is a California requirement. The warranty in the rest of the country was up to Toyota; they chose 8 years and 100,000 miles, more than other car components because they had a marketing issue to overcome at the time, but it also had to be based on expected MTBF to an extent, or the car made no economic sense for them to sell.

Last edited by m1ek (2013-04-30 15:57:05)

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#12 2013-04-30 18:02:20

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

The customer here was quoted almost $5000 for her battery at the dealer.  That is why we are doing it instead.  I am not here to advertise my shop's price for a Prius battery replacement, but while nowhere near $5000, it is a lot more than $1800 for something other than "rebuilt."  The "rebuilt" batteries are a can of worms for various reasons.   My wholesale cost of the genuine Toyota battery is more than $1800. 

It is truly an enormous POS car that needs 2-3 transmissions in its lifetime.  My customers don't own such pitiful cars and such an egregiously crappy car is hardly a valid comparison to anything I would ever own.

I would expect battery sales in 2004, 2005 to be much lower than now as few Prius cars had any substantial mileage on them and 3-4 years max at that time.  We are seeing battery failures in Texas commonly at 100k miles plus or minus.

"Supposed" 17 batteries/month?  Call the dealer parts department and ask them.  And that is only one of the battery part #s.
Judging by last summer, it will be several times that by July/August.

California battery warranty for the 2006 Prius that is here is 10 years, 150k, federal is 8 years, 80,000 -- at least that's what the warranty booklet says.

But, good luck with your Prius in any case.  Neither my examples nor yours prove an absolute across-the-board rule, of course.

And, to give the devil his due, the Honda Civic Hybrid battery problems are far worse than those of the Prius.  We have had to warranty two replacement batteries that only made it less than two years, and we are sending lots of folks to the dealer with batteries failing under warranty.   

Don

Last edited by Donald Lewis (2013-04-30 18:03:08)

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#13 2013-05-10 10:56:56

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

You misunderstood the point. Check the # of Priuses SOLD monthly in 2004 and 2005 to get the correct denominator to match your "17 batteries/month" numerator to determine how many are really having problems.

As for "enormous POS car that needs 2-3 transmissions in its lifetime" - most people do not hold on to a car for 20 years either. In 10 years, you might need a new one near the end; that's all the links cited. Sorry; perhaps your customers do, but then you're admitting to a gigantic self-selected sample bias.

Suffice to say I've run across a lot of traditional car guys who hate the Prius and other hybrids for a variety of subjective reasons over the years. There's a lot of bad info out there being used as clubs by people who don't particularly care how reliable that info actually is.

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#14 2013-05-10 16:41:58

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

Well. enough are having battery problems that I have to question your statement  "Battery packs are simply not an issue. They will outlive the car."   Now you may feel the risk of battery failure is outweighed by the reasons you own a Prius.  That is your choice, but you made an absolute statement that is not borne out.  And that's 17/month in one out of three area dealerships, Prius cars covering a production date range of a little less than two years, and during moderate temperatures.  Again, It is a very safe bet the number of battery failures will be far higher in August.

The comparison between some POS car that needs 3 transmissions in its lifetimes is silly.  After 33 years in the car repair business you see a lot, but one thing I almost never see is a car that need three transmission replacements or overhauls in its lifetime.  I can think of absolutely no reason this would be bias from my type of customers.  There is nothing unusual about my customers keeping their cars 200k miles +.  This comparison was made in the Consumer's Reports article you quoted: "So if you have to spend $1,800 on a battery after 150,000 miles, you're still ahead of where you would have been in many less-reliable cars that are on their second or third transmission by then."   That quote compares the Prius to a very unusually POS vehicle.  The article also quotes the price for a "rebuilt" or "used" battery, both of which have major problems with regards availability of a reliable unit in most areas.  Might as well compare the Prius to a Yugo.  The Prius will look a lot better in terms of repairs costs compared to such a car than to, for example, a Honda Civic.  These days,  150k miles is not very many at all.

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#15 2013-05-10 17:10:13

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

"Check the # of Priuses SOLD monthly in 2004 and 2005 to get the correct denominator to match your "17 batteries/month" numerator to determine how many are really having problems."

m1ek, do you have access to that figure?  Can't say that I do.  Of course some batteries will fail in 5 years some in 9, some in 15, some never, so statistical analysis will get complex.  The cars using the particular part # battery were all produced in a less than two year period, but battery failures will span a several year range.  I don't claim to have the analysis, so perhaps I should just accept    "Battery packs are simply not an issue. They will outlive the car."   as hyperbole.  But my customer who was quoted $5000 for a battery failure sure considers battery life an issue!  We did it for a lot less, but she still thinks its an issue and I don't blame her.  She has never before had a single car repair bill anywhere close to that price let alone at under 110k miles.

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#16 2013-05-15 15:13:21

rich00
Member
Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

The problem is the car.

EV is great, but not so much at the scale of typical US automobile. I do love biking around Leaf and Pruis cars as opposed to standard gas engines - the air is VERY noticeably cleaner.

The problem is the car though. Electric cars won't do anything for the big traffic problem. Nothing for the obesity. Nothing for the economics.

Electric bikes - YES! Those WILL address the above problems, and you won't need to arrive exhausted or sweaty. A MIT study rated ebikes on par with bicycles with regards to environmental impact. That was in general. The more miles you go, the more the ebike wins, and especially if powered by renewables.

My ebike is often charged by my solar panel I built.

Solar powered, sweat free, non-laborious, traffic solving, exercise if you choose, free easy parking, fastest urban transportation and all for about $1200.

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#17 2013-05-20 12:54:23

m1ek
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Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

http://www.mercurynews.com/mr-roadshow/ … me-battery

" Several dozen testimonials rolled into Roadshow, and almost all praised the Prius, with owners saying fears of needing to replace the hybrid battery at the cost of several thousand bucks were overstated. Experts say replacement batteries are the exception rather than the norm, and the vast majority of owners will never incur the cost of a replacement unit."

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#18 2013-05-20 13:06:54

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

Much less of a problem in climates cooler than Texas.  Just had another customer with a bad HV battery in her 2005 Prius w 110k miles.  Currently there are 71 batteries for that model on back order at the Houston parts depot.

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#19 2013-05-20 16:02:09

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

We have a 2001 Prius here today on which we just finished minor AC and electric door lock repairs.  Reviewing the customer history, I see the HV battery failed a year ago at 46k miles.  In all fairness, it may have suffered from not being used enough.

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#20 2013-05-21 10:04:40

rich00
Member
Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

What do you do with the batteries that get replaced? I would love to get a hold of them and re-purpose them, such as for powering an electric bike. Chances are that there is just a bad cell, or the cells are significantly below original capacity. Either way, they are still very usable in other applications!

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#21 2013-05-21 16:15:53

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 181

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

You are correct that when a battery assembly fails there are likely many good cells.  The way the onboard powertrain computer condemns a battery assembly is by comparing voltages between blocks of 6-7 cells.  It will detect a block that does not hold a charge like the others.  The entire battery assembly is broken into 14 or so blocks for monitoring purposes,

I am afraid a battery we removed from a hybrid would cost you.  On a Honda Civic Hybrid the core charge is $3000!!

For a Prius, $1450

I would help you out if I could.

Don in Austin

Last edited by Donald Lewis (2013-05-22 05:36:34)

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#22 2013-05-27 03:53:41

rich00
Member
Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

Wow, that's a lot. I think the Prius is only 1.2kwh. I can buy such a brand new lithium battery for around $1000. Well, hopefully they end up somewhere to be used.

Last edited by rich00 (2013-05-27 03:54:00)

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#23 2013-11-13 11:54:14

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,173
Website

Re: Energy/CO2 saved by hybrids? Probably around 22%.

According to several independent sources, the Prius seems very reliable:

Autosaur, 2013.  Both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates list the Prius as the *most* reliable car in the world.

Globe & Mail, 2013.  "The stunning reliability of the Toyota Prius hybrid is matched only by its taxi-cab design....  Personally, I’d be shocked to see Toyota take any risks with battery technology. A key piece of the Prius brand is reliability. The car, introduced in the U.S. in 1999 and Canada a year later, is bullet-proof. Rest assured, Toyota will battery-up only with proven technology."

AutoBlog, 2012.  Consumer Reports says Prius C most reliable 2012 vehicle....Consumer Reports based its list on subscriber experiences with 1.2 million vehicles.... Consumer Reports also said that green cars are reliable, so the fears people have about the first hybrids over a decade ago should not resurface today, saying 'Reliability is a high point for most hybrids.'"

MSN Auto Reliability Rankings.  Prius has five stars for 2007-2010 models (not enough data for other years).  User reviews and expert reviews for other years range from 8.0 to 9.4.

Edmunds Reliability Index.  Five stars for all years listed for overall car.  Green check mark for each individual component for each year, except "Moderate problems" with the engine on the 2008 model.  "Reliability Ratings by Identifix is based from repair shop-reported issues."

AOL Autos, 2011.  "Ten-Year Old Toyota Hybrid Priuses Defy Early Critics.... Based on data from over 36,000 Toyota Prius hybrids in its annual survey, Consumer Reports has found that the Prius consistently gets top marks when it comes to reliability, and also boasts low ownership costs.  But now that the Prius has been around for more than a decade in the U.S., and available on the used-car market, some of those doubters might still wonder what the answers were to their old questions about long-term battery performance, durability and replacement. The same could be said of buyers who are considering buying a used Prius with a lot of miles on it.  The engineers at Consumer Reports recently decided to answer those questions by taking a 2002 Prius with 208,000 miles on it, and putting it through its paces. The magazine's testers hooked the car up to its testing instruments to see if battery performance and fuel efficiency had degraded, and if so, by how much. As part of the evaluation, the engineers also checked into battery replacement costs.  The upshot? They found that there was very little difference in battery performance, fuel economy and acceleration in the used '02 model when compared to a nearly identical 2001 Prius they tested 10 years ago when it was new.  The tests recently conducted on the old '02 model are the same ones they performed on the new '01 model 10 years ago. They drove on their own track, ran it through a city traffic course, and took it out on the freeway.  The detailed results: The '02 Prius with 208,000 miles on it got 40.4 mpg overall, compared to 40.6 mpg for the '01 Prius when it was brand new. Highway fuel economy for the old, used Prius was 48.3 mpg, compared to 48.6 mpg on the new Prius back in '01. And in the city, the numbers were 32.1 mpg compared to 30.5 mpg, respectively."

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