Owners complain that some hybrid-car batteries conk out early. What is the lifespan of a hybrid battery?
Atsushi Ts ukada/AP/File
Japanese automaker Honda found itself in a second US court case early this year over a batch of problematic hybrid-car batteries that customers say sabotaged their fuel efficiency by as much as 40 percent.
Like other hybrids, the Honda Civic Hybrid relies on a battery system that gives the gasoline engine an extra boost in efficiency. These energy cells recharge while driving, but lose capacity over time. Now a class action lawsuit alleges that Civic Hybrids from the years 2006 to 2008 had shoddy batteries that reduced their fuel economy from the promised 50 miles per gallon to 30 m.p.g. within just a few years.
How long should such a battery last? Hybrid owners already pay a premium for their fuel efficiency. Replacing the battery midway through the life of the vehicle would tack on an additional $2,000 to $4,000.
Fortunately for hybrid owners, the Civic's battery problems seem to be an anomaly.
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"What appears to be some sort of failure in Honda Civics has not been reported in the other models," says Bradley Berman, founder of the news and reviews site HybridCars.com. "I'm not saying that these batteries will last forever, but the general sense is that they will last for, quote, the lifetime of the vehicle."