I wouldn’t count on battery replacement costs going down. While manufacturing volume can bring costs down, commodity prices for precious metals have been soaring. Also I have seen no decrease in battery costs for laptop computers lately, or even plain old alkaline batteries for that matter, yet they have been making those for years. By the time you replace your batteries, the car will have been out of production for years, which means the manufacturing volume price reduction factor will diminish. Ni-MH batteries also have a limited shelf life, so the manufacturer can’t just stockpile them while they were in full production. So in 10 years, who knows what the price of the replacement batteries will be?
I’ll just stick with my 4 cyl Camry and 34 mpg. I know of several of these vehicles that have over 250K miles that still run fine with little mtce. My battery replacement will cost about $55 at WalMart – which I will be happy to pay.
Folks let’s not forget the other advantage of hybrids. Yes, they get great gas mileage, some better than others, but nonetheless good. The other benefit is less carbon monoxide into the environment. I realize that money is the driving force by which 99.9% of us live so the high cost of a hybrid and the threat of paying 3-8K for a replacement battery sucks. I am no environmentalist by any means but i will get onto my soap box for a second. The environment is taking a huge hit every year because of pollution. The cars you and I drive everyday are a large part of that polluiton. There are species of plants and animals that may very well be an integral part of the ecosystem that are paying the ultimate price for human habits. Hybrids are not perfect. Will they get cheaper? Who knows, i hope so. I would like to see oil go away permanently in favor of a cleaner and more efficient solution. I don’t own a hybrid and i don’t know if and when i will but i do know that every little bit helps when it comes to reducing pollution. With gas prices threatening to hit $6 by the end of the summer, I think people are going to start to change their tune about hybrids regardless of battery replacement costs after 7 or 8 years. I will climb down from my box now and shield myself from all of the E-daggers that are sure to come my way. Later.
Let’s just play the numbers via a spreedsheet:
GP = Pontiac Grand Prix 28mpg. Prius 46mpg. Gas price fixed to $3.00. No inflation factor. Miles shown top row. Battery replacement cost RH column. The body shows cost for the miles and battery replacement costs