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Battery types on Prius Hybrid versus Plug-in Prius

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  • Battery types on Prius Hybrid versus Plug-in Prius

    The Prius hybrid (gasoline+battery that charges when you brake) was one of the vehicles that I was looking into last fall. Originally I nixxed it because I figured that not enough of my driving was stop and go. Now with getting stuck in construction areas I'm back to considering the Prius again.

    There has been some backlash against electric cars (mainly the Chevy Volt) because of concerns with the battery, particularly in an accident. However, it appears that not all "electric" cars come equipped with the same type of battery.

    The Chevy Volt has modern lithium ion battery. The hybrid Prius has a nickel metal hydride battery. The plug-in Prius has the lithium ion battery,

    Frankly, I'll accept driving around with a nickel metal hydride battery, but I feel uncomfortable about the safety of large lithium-ion batteries. Even the smaller ones on phones and laptops can overheat dangerously if there is a small fault. I'm sure that the manufacturers will make every attempt to use the most stable type of lithium-ion and reduce manufacturing defects, but I'd rather stick to the more stable and more mature technology.

  • #2
    Re: Battery types on Prius Hybrid versus Plug-in Prius

    I have driven electric vehicles for many years with all types of batteries. I currently have a Nissan LEAF with lithium polymer batteries but prior to that I drove a Rav4 EV with nickle metal hydride batteries. I really don't fear the battery chemistry in the LEAF. The key to preventing "thermal events" is a good battery management system to keep the pack in balance which is more important with lithium then other types of batteries. Remember (unless you drive a Tesla) these are not laptop batteries and they use a far superior BMS in the car compared to laptops and cell phones. When you look at the volt battery fire you need to remember that was a severe crash (test) and the fire occurred long after the test was over. Any battery if compromised by impact damage can overheat or catch fire. Once you short it internally, the stored energy has to dissipate somewhere. Think of how many vehicles have been in accidents over the years with fuel tanks that ruptured and caused immediate massive fires. In addition (as far as accident damage is concerned) the battery in the Prius is in a similar area to where CNG tanks are mounted, above the rear axle. You have to be in a really bad accident to damage anything in that area. As a side note, if I was buying a plug-in vehicle, I would go for the Volt over the Prius which has a very short range and I don't think the premium in price is worth it unless you have another need in mind such as solo carpool lane access. The Prius is a nice car---I have had several over the years and currently own a 2011 model which very rarely gets driven. I use the LEAF for any trips less then 80 miles. Longer trips are in my CNG Cavalier with very long trips (without a CNG station in a reasonable distance) taken in the Prius.


    • #3
      Re: Battery types on Prius Hybrid versus Plug-in Prius

      After a severe crash it's not unusual to disconnect the battery cables in the cars when they're stored before a body overhaul. However, this safety procedure was neglected in the Volt.

      Anyways, I'm actually not so favorable to hybrids or EV's at all due to their limited range and excessive weight.