GetOffYourGas wrote:Is this true? They never addressed the wearout of the batteries? Anecdotally, I have a coworker whose Civic hybrid has had no real degradation in MPG in over 200,000 miles. He did get a warning from Honda that some cells have failed, but again - no noticeable hit to MPGs.
We have a Honda Civic Hybrid which we bought in April 2002 and we still love it. Lifetime mileage is about 48 MPG and steady. It remains my wife's favorite car. We like it so much my mother and my son each recently bought MY2004 HCHs based on my recommendations.
None of that changes the fact that the D-cell battery packs only last about 100,000 miles or so before they start to fail, just like the D-cell battery packs in the early-model Prii were failing. These cells develop a very high self-discharge rate as they age and it becomes impossible to keep the pack balanced. If you let the car sit for too long, the worst cells will fully discharge and short out. Eventually, the shorts become permanent. Now that we have our LEAF, our HCH sometimes sits for weeks at a time. The IMA light usually comes on after those times, but it will recover. My mom's HCH has some shorted cells at 110,000 miles and will need a new pack soon. The good news is that these packs only cost ~$2000 and then you practically have a new car.
GetOffYourGas wrote:Anyway, I'm not convinced this is the reason that Honda has little market share. I think that has much to do with the fact that their "prius killer" gen II Insight was launched with the same drivetrain as the first gen. At the same time, Toyota was launching their Gen III prius, which was a much more refined machine. Shortly thereafter, they introduced the Prius C which pretty much killed the Insight's price advantage, while having even better MPG than a prius. Honda just don't have a competitive product today.
I don't disagree with your history, but the battle was over long before the Insight II ever came out. The fact that Honda continued to deliver batteries which would not hold up in their HCH and Accord Hybrids had already doomed them.
That is why this topic is relevant to this thread. BOTH Honda and Toyota had problems with their hybrid batteries early on. Toyota fixed it fairly quickly and Honda basically tried to tell customers that "it is good enough", reprogrammed the battery controllers and gave out a lme settlement in court. Sound familiar?. So I suspect the question is whether Nissan's battery will be able to shed its reputation of having poor durability or whether the market will learn to stay away like it did with the Honda hybrids.
GetOffYourGas wrote:I drive one of those Gen II Insights, BTW, and love it. It handles like a Honda (responsive steering, tight suspension, hugs the road, focused on a "sporty" feel) and the Prius handles like a Toyota (sloppy steering, soft suspension, focused on a comfortable ride).
That's great! As mentioned, we still love our HCH after 12.5 years of ownership. Great car!
There is one other big difference between the Honda hybrids and the Toyota hybrids which goes toward what Donald has been discussing, but against the Hondas rather than the Prii: the vehicle and driving experience of the Prii makes a statement that the Honda never has. Specifically, I am discussing the styling and the electric-only driving modes of the Prius. Those two things allow Prius owners tell others "I am making a difference". If you drive in a Honda Hybrid, the only thing of note is auto-stop (turning off the engine when the vehicle stops). Most people seeing or even riding it a Honda Hybrid would not even notice that fact. But nearly everyone knows what a Prius looks like and definitely notices how different it is to ride in, and even more so to drive!
In this regard, the LEAF is much more like a Prius. The styling sets it apart from other vehicles on the road and the driver and passenger experiences are markedly different than other cars. Additionally, the elimination of trips to the gas station is a big plus.
To wit: my youngest children can only identify two vehicles on the road: Toyota Prii and Nissan LEAFs (but they occasionally misidentify other vehicles as LEAFs). They couldn't spot a Honda Civic Hybrid if their life depended on it, even though they have ridden in one since birth!
Anyway, I believe the Nissan has everything in place to grow LEAF sales even faster than Toyota did with the Prius. But they must take the battery issue completely off the table in the way that Toyota did. Unfortunately, there are definitely some shades of Honda in there right now. But none of us know what battery technologies are in store for the future. I see some extremely exciting prospects out there right now! Time will tell.
And the relative prices of electricity versus gasoline will continue to play a key role in every market where the LEAF is sold.