People who are looking at the possible purchase of a hybrid car, usually try to figure up how much they will save in gas over the lifetime of the car.
Most, except those who are expecting to encounter extremely high mileage figures, will probably NOT be especially excited by the figures. You generally will not save that much money on gas with a hybrid car.
Of course, owning a hybrid car, such as my Toyota Prius, which gets great fuel economy when prices are extremely high, like they were in the Fall of 2008, can be a blessing to the pocketbook. No doubt about it. However, over the course of the car's life, the actual savings due to fuel economy alone will be minimal if any.
Really, at this stage in hybrid car technology, purchasing one of the many hybrid models available is really more of a statement of civic responsibility rather than an economic one.
Having disposed of that, I would like to address a more compelling question that potential hybrid owners should be concerned with.
They want to know: What is the hybrid battery life expectancy?
We can easily answer most other mechanical and economic questions about vehicle costs, operation, and repair by simply comparing a hybrid, such as my 2006 Toyota Prius which gets about 47.5 miles per gallon with 75,000 miles on it, to other cars of its approximate size and weight. Except possibly for the brakes (a separate discussion, but a positive one), tire wear, generator life, fluid and oil changes will probably be about equal.
However, there is little at the moment to compare to when speaking of hybrid battery life expectancy.
It is simply that hybrid cars have simply not been on the road that long, and you just cannot turn to your neighbor, or neighborhood mechanic, and say, "Hey, John! Got any idea how long a hybrid battery should last?"
So, in the interest of at least allaying that worry for a few people, here's a wee bit of information on the subject of hybrid battery life expectancy.
Ordinary Vs. Hybrid
Regular car batteries will generally need replacing on average about every three or four years. Hybrid car battery packs, on the other hand, are commonly warranted to last for about eight to 10 years. Testing indicates that they may eventually actually outlast the car itself.
If figures in years don't do it for you, let's say the batteries are designed to last between 150,000 and 200,000 miles.
Failure of the hybrid battery pack.
As yet, hard figures are difficult to come by because hybrid cars presently comprise such a small percentage of vehicles on the road, and also because they have been in use for such a short time, speaking in automotive history years. However, Toyota has released some figures to indicate that some of their battery packs have lasted in excess of 300,000 miles!
The word, "failure", when we apply it to hybrid battery life expectancy is so far a relative word. A hybrid car battery pack is actually made up of hundreds of nickel cadmium elements, known as cells. The "failure" of a couple of these cells would probably not significantly affect the overall life expectancy or immediate performance of the battery itself.
Those who have purchased a hybrid car in order to make a statement about their concern for the planet, will be happy to know that hybrid car batteries are highly recyclable and have been designed to have a reduced toxic waste effect as compared to other, similar products.
Additionally, there is also the available option of possibly refurbishing an aging, or failing, hybrid battery pack. Each "battery" is itself constructed of about 28 modules, and faulty modules can be replaced for much less cost than replacing the battery itself. Even better news, at least economically, is the fact that a non-faulty module can be taken from another battery, thus creating a new distribution chain for reuseable battery modules.
It is certainly also encouraging that hybrid battery life expectancy is currently (no pun intended) an on-going research issue for manufacturers. As a result, hybrid battery packs of the future will probably last even longer and be even more environmentally friendly than their counterparts of today.
If you purchase a good hybrid car, you will probably do pretty well as far as fuel economy is concerned, especially if gas prices start heading back up towards four dollars (as I write this in early 2009). Regular vehicle maintenance expenses should be roughly the same as those of any other comparably sized car or truck, The only worry many people may have will be about hybrid-car-specific issues such as the one of hybrid battery life expectancy, and, as you can see, that should not be much of an issue.