We are going to start rebuilding Civic Hybrid (generation 1) and Insight packs. We have 3 options currently available. The first is a reconditioning of your existing pack, which includes disassembly and repeated charge and discharge cycles on the pack to rebuild the power of the pack. If we find any bad “sticks” in the pack, we will replace them with used sticks that are close to the original. The process takes about a week to complete. The rebuild is 500 dollars, and if we find any bad sticks, it will be 50 dollars per stick replacement. These batteries are made up of 120 D cell size batteries welded together in sticks of 6, which means there are 20 “sticks” in each pack.
The Second option is to purchase a tested and verified used battery pack, and to submit your battery as a core. This is a nice option, because we can swap the pack out in about an hour. The cost for this service is 600 dollars.
The third and best option is to have us install brand new batteries in the pack. The batteries will be of high quality, and will have a 2 year warranty. I am still working out the details with the supplier, but this option looks like it will be around 2300 dollars installed.
The big thing about these IMA cars is the fact that when they start to age, the batteries start to loose their balanced due to variable self resistance values which cause the individual cells in the pack to have different states of charge. Because the pack is in series, the weakest cell is the one that determines the overall packs power. The trick here is to try to drive the car as much as possible so they don’t loose their balance. Grid chargers are another solution, but they are fairly costly (600 plus installation) and just top the battery off so it can be restored to its best capacity in it’s life cycle. The restoration process with NiMH cells involve carefully overcharging the battery sticks to the point where all cells have soaked up all the electrons they can get. The batteries that are more charged convert the electrons they don’t need into heat without damage to the battery (under careful monitoring). This is an interesting characteristic which is unique to these battery chemistries. If you do this to a lithium battery, things go wrong in a hurry. That is why these batteries can be restored to a much better state pretty easily. You still run the risk of them coming out of balance, but it is a good and cheap way to shut off the IMA lights and see if the car is worth replacing the battery.
Just a note on the cost of a full replacement battery. On fuel costs alone, if the hybrid has 150000 miles on it, and you say the average MPG is 42, and if you say for the same civic non hybrid which gets about 32 mpg with the same mileage, the fuel cost difference with fuel being $4/gal is 4465 dollars. Keep in mind, this battery will probably get you another 100000 miles on your hybrid easy, so you will save around 7500 dollars on gas until the next battery rebalance/ change, which still leaves you with a savings of over 5 grand with a battery replacement. Results may vary, i know… But not by much. So it makes complete sense to replace the battery. Keep in mind too, hybrids don’t go through brakes as fast due to the regen braking, so there is a little icing on the cake… probably enough to offset the carbon footprint with a nice steak dinner (hah). By the time you need the third battery, there will be a lithium solution for certain, and it will probably be 50 bucks. Of course gas will be 10 bucks a gallon… but I digress. Just food for thought as one debates trading in their very reliable hybrid for some fancy german car or something like that. Then all these cost numbers get sat on by the giant called depreciation.
If you are interested in this, please contact us.