hybrid car battery array

From the Hybrid Shop: Problems with New Hybrid Battery Packs and the Impact of Discharge

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When hybrid battery packs are assembled by the manufacturer, the batteries are purposefully set at a state of charge higher than the expected “brand new” charge of around 60%. Manufacturers know almost exactly how long it should take for a hybrid battery–and the vehicle that contains it–to travel from the production floor to the showroom.

Working backwards from the desired 60% charge and accounting for exact rates of discharge and the details of storage conditions, manufacturers are able to quite accurately estimate how much charge will be lost in transit and plan accordingly. Hybrid vehicles that arrive on dealer lots should generally contain near-perfect hybrid batteries.

The major variable in determining the actual condition of a brand new hybrid battery, then, is how the dealership handles the vehicle once it has been placed in their care. Dealership practices vary from location to location, as does the ambient environment and its effects on discharge rates.

A hybrid vehicle that sits motionless on a Phoenix, Arizona dealership blacktop under the summer sun will inevitably contain a very different hybrid battery than a vehicle parked in wintry Wisconsin and driven daily as the lot is snowplowed, at least in terms of charge and battery health. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, heat greatly affects the discharge rate of the nickel-metal hydride cells that compose the majority of hybrid battery packs out on the road, or in this case, on the lot. The hotter the environment, the faster that self-discharge tends to occur.

While manufacturers do distribute fairly stringent guidelines to their dealers concerning how often hybrid vehicles should be started up and how long they should be run to counter self-discharge, the degree of compliance to these guidelines obviously differs from dealership to dealership. 21st century manufacturing practices may be sophisticated enough to account for discharge that naturally occurs beyond the factory floor, but the ever-elusive human variable remains beyond the scope of manufacturers’ calculations. The condition of your brand new hybrid car’s battery pack depends most on choices made by the dealership–the where, how, and when of storage.

If you’re having battery problems with a brand new hybrid car, or if you’re wondering about the condition that your hybrid battery pack may be in, feel free to leave us a message in the comments section below, or contact us directly. At The Hybrid Shop, we have professionally trained dealers around the country who specialize in hybrid battery test, repair, replacement, and conditioning. Just click here for more information, including pricing.


This is another valuable post from TheHybridShop.comHECN is happy to welcome the TheHybridShop.com, a new green automotive startup, as our first Service Advisor.  The mission of The Hybrid Shop is to “provide the highest quality maintenance, service and repair experience for hybrid electric vehicle owners.” Read more about them and servicing hybrid electric cars here.  You can also find them on FacebookTwitterLinkedINGoogle Plus, and YouTube.

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Sebastian James

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