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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
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Default does cold climate apparently kills Prius battery

Hi everybody
I was considering Prius as my next car because gas mileage is of paramount importance for me, my daily commute is 20km/12 miles and I have seen few Priuses here in my country - Mongolia.
However, people I spoke with advised me against it saying cold climate ( -30 Celcius is not unusual) kills Prius battery and after couple years you have to buy new battery for $2500 or something. Is this true and does anyone knows cold climate hybrid car?
Regards from faraway cold Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia!
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 06:05 AM
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For those of us Celcius dyslexic,
-30C = -22 degrees Fahrenheit

I'm not aware of any information about tempertures in that range "killing" the battery. On the Classic/1st Gen Prius you'd see a little turtle on the display and performance could be severely hampered when that cold.
On the current generation Prius you'll experience some reduction in performance as the battery is very inefficient when that cold. Fuel economy will suffer as well when that cold.

I'm not too familiar with the weather in your region, but unless you experience particularly long periods where it stays that cold I'd expect a Prius to do just fine. Many people in the US states of Minnesota and Alaska drive a Prius and they experience temps colder than -30C not infrequently as well.

A bigger concern, however, is that you would likely be completely unable to have a Prius serviced should you have any problem. This isn't a car you can cobble back together with panty-hose and duct tape..it requires specialized computers and techs with specialized training to repair them...though routine service doesn't require any special training at all.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 09:36 AM
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I have heard that it's not the kind of battery people think it is that would be so affected by the cold, and in any case, that the Prius takes care of its battery's temperature automatically. I'm not sure if that's true. But here in Vermont, temperatures that cold happen as the low overnight a dozen times a year, and plenty of us have Prii that are just fine. So unless you mean that -30C is a temperature your thermometer sits at for days at a time, rather than being the overnight low, I am pretty sure you don't need to worry. And even if you do, I still doubt it.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 09:57 AM
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If you see "few" Prius on the roads then you probably don't want one.
After three years of "a lot of Prius" on the road, service managers are just getting them "figured out."
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HunterGreen
I have heard that it's not the kind of battery people think it is that would be so affected by the cold, and in any case, that the Prius takes care of its battery's temperature automatically. I'm not sure if that's true. But here in Vermont, temperatures that cold happen as the low overnight a dozen times a year, and plenty of us have Prii that are just fine. So unless you mean that -30C is a temperature your thermometer sits at for days at a time, rather than being the overnight low, I am pretty sure you don't need to worry. And even if you do, I still doubt it.
I can tell you from personal experience that at -20F and a 2 day 'cold soak' that battery performance is undoubtedly affected. It works, but usable range is greatly diminished and you can't get much electric 'boost' when accelerating/passing. And it takes, literally, hours of driving to warm up to even the freezing point.
The battery temp is, to a point, regulated by the car, but this is via the intake vent in the cabin of the Prius...so it sucks in the cold air (in hot weather) or warm air (in the cold season) and blows it by the battery to adjust the temp...this is passive most of the time, but can be active with the fans built into the vent system. But the battery is a large thermal mass and the temp changes are not rapid..this is good in that it can't overheat quickly, but it's bad in that it takes forever to warm up once it gets extremely cold.

If I lived in a very cold area like Mongolia, Minnesota, or Alaska I'd be sure to have access for an engine block heater and, preferably, a garage that could be heated at least to ~32F to minimize the cold MPG and performance impact.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 11:14 AM
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I did one tank a couple years back where we were -10 or so for the whole week. MPG was in the high 20's! The car got me where I needed to go, and probably twice as efficiently as any other car on the road that week.

I don't have a heated garage or a block heater.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 12:57 PM
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Hep, I've got to disagree with your assumption that there would be much of a performance loss with a standard car. Once the thermostat has the engine at operating temperature, it doesn't know or care what the outside temperature is. (A Corolla would still be giving you 35 MPG.)
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 01:25 PM
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Well Hyperion, I can say from experience that "normal" smallish cars suffer at least as much as the Prius from cold weather lowering the fuel economy. Last winter I rented a small Suzuki for over a month. It burned 12 l/100 km (call it 20 MPG US). My Prius burns around 6 l/100 km (39 MPG US) in similar temps. Larger vehicles do suffer less, probably because they waste so much all the time. The anti-Prius (2001 Nissan Pathfinder LE) burned 14 l/100 km in the summer and 17 l/100 km in the winter. I would expect a "larger" hybrid to perform similarly - such as the Highlander or Lexus 600h.

So far, my experience with the traction battery has been good at cool temps. We haven't been down to -30C yet, but two weeks of -15 to -22C caused no problems. No sluggish operation, easy to start. Car warms up in a few minutes, and I don't bother with my block heater as I can't predict when I'll be driving the car. My car sat for several days of no use lots of times during those weeks. I will be reporting on the -30 to -40 degree effects in the next few months.

For operation in Mongolia I'd be sure to purchase a Scangauge II so you can watch things a little more closely, and block the grills in the winter.

Vehicle:
Pearl is a 2007 Driftwood Pearl Prius
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-21-2007, 09:35 AM
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My Highlander took a 2MPG hit when 10% enthanol was mandated in my state. Otherwise it's 21MPG all twelve months. (Of course this does not include the times A/C is used, but that's a hit from the additional energy required, and accepted "gratefully.")
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-21-2007, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperion
Hep, I've got to disagree with your assumption that there would be much of a performance loss with a standard car. Once the thermostat has the engine at operating temperature, it doesn't know or care what the outside temperature is. (A Corolla would still be giving you 35 MPG.)
I'm not talking about performance loss as much as what the big SUV's and trucks get all the time. I am noticing a higer percentage of small sedans in the last couple years. People are wising up, slowly, as gas prices go up.

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