Hybrid Batteries 'Benign'

Greg Galitzine : Green Blog
Greg Galitzine
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Hybrid Batteries 'Benign'

Rich Tehrani and I were talking the other day about the merits of hybrid automobiles when we got on the topic of whether the batteries from these vehicles pose any sort of an environmental problem when it comes time to dispose of them.

I seem to recall reading something a few years back that said the disposal of these large batteries was going to be challenge – basically that they were going to crowd our landfills, leak and cause all sorts of problems (and you know there’s only going to be more hybrids on our roads over the next few years).

But as it turns out, that’s not at all true. According to an entry found at www.hybridcars.com/faq, these batteries are “fully recyclable.” As per the entry:

“The hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles, probably a whole lot longer. The warranty covers the batteries for between eight and ten years, depending on the car maker. Battery toxicity is a concern, although today's hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium. ‘Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled,’ says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they pay a $200 ‘bounty’ for each battery to help ensure that it will be properly recycled.
There's no definitive word on replacement costs because they are almost never replaced. According to Toyota, since the Prius first went on sale in 2000, they have not replaced a single battery for wear and tear."

So, obviously something led me to the wrong impression.

I would have to assume that the hybrid makers pass the cost of the recycling along to the consumer … could be part of the reason the sticker price on these cars (and their parts) is so much higher.

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