Will Other Carmakers Follow Suit?Gas-electric hybrid cars have been on our roads in significant numbers for almost a decade now, and if there's one thing about them that seems pretty trouble-free, it's the battery packs. It's funny because when the Prius first came out, the big "gotcha" from columnists everywhere was about how the batteries would need to be replaced after a few years at a cost of thousands of dollars, etc. But as it turned out, even hybrid taxis that have driven hundreds of thousands of miles have done pretty well (there's normal wear & tear to be expected, but it hasn't been the problem that it was predicted to be). In fact Hyundai, a fairly new entrant to the hybrid car market, is so confident that its batteries won't pose problems over the useful life of its 2012 Sonata hybrid that it is extending its already generous 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty to cover the battery pack for the lifetime of the vehicle.
Hyundai today added to its Sonata Hybrid coverage a Lifetime Battery Replacement Guarantee to expand the benefits of Hyundai Assurance, the industry’s most comprehensive warranty program. The coverage applies to all 2012 model year Sonata Hybrid models over the life expectancy of the vehicle and thousands of miles beyond the average duration of new-car ownership. The first-of-its-kind protection ensures that if the Sonata Hybrid lithium polymer battery technology fails, Hyundai will replace the battery and cover recycling costs for the old powerplant free of charge to the owner.
Hyundai has tested the Sonata Hybrid drivetrain for more than 300,000 miles with minimal degradation, which is why its confident that it won regret this decision to cover the battery for much longer than traditional warranties.
The real question now is: Will Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, GM, etc.. Follow suit with similar warranties? Will this become the new competitive advantage in the hybrid wars? Will they do the same for fully electric cars?
More from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.