It's somewhat remarkable news in a time when the cost of everything from a gallon of milk to a barrel of oil seems to be rising without end. Or is this a necessary, competitive reaction from a vehicle whose battery technology may soon become challenged by the introduction of ultra-efficient lithium-ion batteries in vehicles like the 2011 Chevy Volt?
Remember way back when hybrids were the new tech, and a bold Toyota released the first, frumpy-looking Prius riding on diminutive 13-inch tires? All the critics cried, "the batteries will cost a fortune to replace! The cost savings are a farce!" Well, the critics have been silenced by the remarkable performance and longevity of the Prius battery packs, the vast majority of which are still silently providing juice to Toyota's seamless Hybrid Synergy Drive. Millions of trouble-free miles on Toyota's Hybrid Synergy drive (also employed in the Camry Hybrid) have elevated the Prius to cult status, and rightly so.
Both first- and second-gen batteries previously cost $2,985. Now, first-gen batteries sell for $2,299 and second-gens retail for $2,588. Explaining the cost reduction, Gary Smith, Toyota Motor Sales corporate manager, states the company has maintained "from the beginning that battery replacement costs would continue to decline due to technology and volume related advancements, and we believe this will continue."--Colin Mathews