Some owners are accusing a Japanese carmaker of going back on its word as Toyota had promised a lifetime warranty on the battery.
Toyota has sent letters to owners of Toyota Prius XW10 manufactured from 1997 to 2000 to inform them that the company will stop offering a lifetime warranty on the battery for these models from March 2024. The reason given by the company is the difficulty in sourcing batteries for a 25-year-old model.
Some fans of the first generation Toyota Prius have already switched to hybrid cars. However, they still keep their Prius vehicles in their garages even though they are 25 years old. And they criticize Toyota for going back on their promise of a lifetime battery warranty. According to regulations in Japan, the “lifetime” of a vehicle is estimated to be 15 years or 250,000 km.
Not all owners are eligible for the lifetime battery warranty. Only pre-facelift models manufactured from 1997 to 2000 are eligible for this privilege. The reason is that the first-generation Toyota Prius, being a pioneering model at the time, did not have the same durability as other “traditional” models.
As a pioneering model, the battery of the Toyota Prius produced between 1997 and 2000 also has its limitations. Specifically, if the Prius is not used for a long time or if it has to accelerate and brake frequently, the battery can become damaged prematurely. A warning notification indicates that the output power is limited and there is no permanent solution for this issue other than battery replacement.
The facelift version of the Prius, launched in 2001, did not face this problem. However, Toyota values the trust of its customers, who were willing to test an unproven product. Therefore, for these customers, the company provided a lifetime (15 years) battery replacement service, even after the warranty period has ended. But after over 20 years of providing this service, it is now time to stop.
“Until now, we have been conducting free HV battery checks at the nearest authorized service centers and dealerships. However, it has been more than 20 years since production ceased and continuing to supply parts has become difficult. Therefore, we regret to inform you that from March 31, 2024, we will discontinue the warranty service (free checks) and we sincerely apologize for this,” the letter from Toyota to Japanese customers states.
Contrary to disappointed owners, many people are very impressed. Apart from the durability issue, the online community is amazed to learn that Toyota has quietly replaced batteries for customers for over two decades, even after surpassing the “lifetime legal requirement,” and has found that 25 years is more than enough.