This is the story of a friend of mine in Houston, Texas (US) who still owns a Toyota Prius he bought new in 2001.
The main issue with electric propulsion has been batteries. Apart from the fact that they are now covered by (usually) 8-year warranties, people want to know how reliable hybrid cars are, and how they held up through years of accidents, as well as hundreds of thousands of miles of driving.
To those looking for all those details: You finally came to the right place!
His Prius now has more than 160,000 miles on it. He reported a minor fuel efficiency decrease, bad rear shock absorbers, and an error that results in a loss of power sometimes.
Apart from that, he said “this car drives like a 5-year-old”, and as for its reliability: “maintenance is about what you’d expect”.
Prius Battery Lifespan
One of the cells in the battery bank was defective when he first got it, and that was replaced under warranty. Since then, the battery bank lasted 12 years. The battery banks of hybrid and electric cars are nothing like that of cellphones and notebook computers. Notebook computers often use lithium cobalt batteries (a member of the lithium-ion/li-ion family).
Electric and hybrid cars today are equipped with lithium-based batteries (one of which is lithium-iron phosphate) which last more than ten years, otherwise manufacturers would not back them up with 8-year warranties.
This vehicle encountered seven accidents. The front and rear end had to be rebuilt. Despite the major accidents which caused that, the batteries were fine.
Toyota used nickel-metal hydride batteries in their Toyota Prius vehicles at the time, but they are now upgrading to more powerful lithium-ion batteries.