It Still Looks Silly, But Honda Insight's Batteries Stand Test of Time

When hybrids first hit the market in 1999, critics and enthusiasts placed their bets on how long — or short — the $3,000 battery packs would last in the hands of consumers. Even some automakers expected they'd be toast in a few years, and stayed away from hybrid technology altogether. But Honda was more optimistic. With its Insight the first hybrid on the market, Honda assured buyers the batteries would last last the projected life of the vehicles — about 8 to 10 years. Now, as the first Insights are rolling through their eighth year of life, most appear to be holding up. In fact, A JD Power and Associates durability survey shows hybrids having 10 percent fewer problems than typical gas burners, excepting higher defect rates from exhaust systems, engine computers and instrument panels. Honda acknowledges replacing some Insight battery packs under warranty, but won't share specific numbers, saying it's a small amount. Still, we haven't seen the Hybrid Armageddon some predicted. But is the countdown clock still ticking? [The Detroit Free Press]