Hybrid-powered vehicles that combine traditional combustion engines with electric motors and high-voltage batteries first entered the market nearly two decades ago. These pioneers – first, the Honda Insight in 2000 and then the Toyota Prius in 2001 – were hardly mainstream products in those early years, but the hybrid drivetrain concept has only grown in popularity thanks to volatile fuel prices and legislative requirements that demand higher corporate average fuel economy from car manufacturers.
Now considered entirely mainstream technology, traditional hybrid, and plug-in hybrid vehicles account for more than 450,000 sales per year in the U.S. (roughly 3% of market share, or more passenger vehicles than BMW sells in the U.S. altogether). The outlook for the near future is even brighter, with industry analysts predicting nearly twenty percent of cars sold worldwide by 2020 will be hybridized.
Early skeptics of hybrid technology often predicted owners would abandon their vehicles because of an assumed short lifespan and high replacement cost for batteries. However, that’s hardly been the reality. The typical hybrid battery has a lifespan between seven and ten years and typically returns about 150,000 miles before individual cells in the pack stop working correctly. The critics also underestimated the automotive aftermarket, which has risen to the challenge of offering affordable remanufactured battery pack options to keep these vehicles on the road longer and for less money.
Since 2014, NAPA Solutions has offered it’s replacement hybrid battery program. Utilizing a core exchange process, customers’ expired hybrid batteries are exchanged for fully remanufactured units. The program currently covers the most popular hybrid models on the market from Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Mercury, and Mazda. All of which are backed by a 12-month unlimited mileage warranty from the date of installation.
Remanufacturing takes place at a dedicated facility in Sanford, North Carolina, where the used battery cells are removed, reconditioned, and cataloged according to specific performance characteristics. A proprietary matching process has been created to assemble the best overall finished pack based upon these performance characteristics. The 53,000-square foot facility recently implemented several logistical and process changes to ensure greater durability.
The pre-production area, for instance, has been reconfigured to facilitate faster core processing and to increase the size of the battery cell library, both help to create a much quicker delivery time. The shipping area itself has tripled in size to facilitate more efficient handling and loading.
Each cell is performance-mapped and matched with similarly performing cells to deliver a more reliable, higher performing battery pack. This results in more predictable performance and longer service life.
Another example of NAPA Solutions commitment to quality is that the remanufacturing facility employs two vehicle dynos. This allows each remanufactured battery pack to be driven through a rigorous EPA outlined drive cycle before shipping. The drive cycle acts as a final check to ensure the battery packs’ cells are appropriately matched and fully functional before it goes out the door. A new installation checklist has been developed to help installers easily walk through the steps to make sure everything has been done correctly.
As the hybrid battery aftermarket continues to grow, drivers should feel confident that they’re getting a durable, reliable remanufactured battery pack.
Check out all the electrical system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on remanufactured battery pack options, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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