A recent press release from Toyota delves into the hybrid battery recycling process and it's an interesting read. It reveals Toyota has had a recycling process in place for the specialised batteries for over seven years in Australia - put in place before the Prius was launched here back in 2001.
Many have questioned the safety and environmental implications of utilising large battery banks within hybrid vehicles and Toyota Australia senior executive director for sales and marketing, David Buttner, noted that Toyota are well aware of these concerns;
"Toyota Australia regards the batteries as a key ecological issue and has had a recycling solution in place for more than seven years," he said.
With regards to safety, Toyota has briefed emergency services and roadside assistance providers on how best to deal with the cells in the event of an accident or breakdown.
With Toyota intending to use the same nickel-metal hydride units in the upcoming 2010 Camry hybrid, it's reassuring to know that the batteries are designed to last the life of the vehicle. The most prominent case to date has seen a pair of Prius taxis in QLD rack up around 850,000kms between them on the original battery pack.
Having sold over 10,000 hybrids in Australia, Toyota has had to replace only seventeen batteries to date. Three of the failed cells have been recycled while the remaining units were used for research and training here and abroad.
With hybrid vehicles becoming more common on our roads, and the Camry Hybrid due to be locally produced from 2010, the handling of batteries will become increasingly important. It's good to know that a quick trip down to your local Toyota service centre is all that's needed to safely and properly handle batteries that have served their time.