AutoMatters & More: Dorman’s Affordable Remanufactured Toyota Prius Hybrid Batteries at AAPEX


Each year, the automotive aftermarket industry gathers at the trade-only SEMA Show and AAPEX in Las Vegas. There they showcase original equipment and custom vehicle premieres, thousands of new products, interactive experiences, service and repair, celebrity appearances and exciting motorsport events.

In 2021, AAPEX expanded to enhance its educational program by including more experiential learning opportunities for automotive aftermarket industry professionals. New was “Joe’s Garage”, a simulated real store experience at the AAPEX exhibition area. It featured eight service bays, elevators and demos.

One of the attendees at Joe’s Garage was Dorman Products, Inc. They were demonstrating the installation of one of their remanufactured Toyota Prius hybrid batteries.

Dorman OE FIX battery packs are thoroughly restored and upgraded with nickel plated bus bars and soldered safety disconnect terminals to prevent corrosion and ensure conductivity. All components are completely cleaned or replaced with new components.

As Dorman Product Manager Jeremy Hartman explained to me, they give hybrid batteries a second life by remanufacturing them rather than ending them up in scrap yards and junkyards. Dorman purchases hybrid batteries from low-mileage scrap vehicles, completely disassembles them, and then puts them through their remanufacturing process.

Individual battery modules with serial numbers

(Jan Wagner)

This process starts with an initial test of the individual battery modules, of which maybe ten percent are discarded. The rest go through more advanced individual testing, which involves hooking them up to bike gear that charges and discharging them, and letting them sit idle to monitor how much they’re self-discharging over time. This simulates their use in a vehicle – for example hard acceleration and hard braking – and replicates the transfer of energy. This process takes four to four and a half hours and is carried out for each individual module. During this process, data is collected every second to see how each module is performing.

Toyota labels each battery module with a barcode at the factory. This contains a serial number – a unique identifier. Dorman scans this and tracks it throughout the process so they know how each individual battery module is performing at every step of their process.

Dorman Remanufactured Prius Hybrid Battery Assembly

Dorman Remanufactured Prius Hybrid Battery Assembly

(Jan Wagner)

Then the battery modules are placed in a huge, robotically controlled library containing 6,000 individual modules. From this, the robot selects 28 modules for each battery that come closest to each other.

For example, if a particular module reads six volts, the Prius will drain it down to three or even two volts, but what the car cares more about is that all the modules are balanced. If one were operating at six volts and another at only three volts, they would be far too far apart and would create an imbalance. Because the hybrid battery is only as good as its weakest link, this imbalance would trigger a warning light in the Prius, alerting the driver that a new hybrid battery is needed. On the other hand, if all modules wore out more evenly, the battery would have a longer service life. The hybrid batteries have been designed to last well over ten years as long as they remain in balance with each other.

Dorman refurbished hybrid battery in Toyota Prius

Dorman refurbished hybrid battery in Toyota Prius

(Jan Wagner)

Like a tire, these modules do not wear out exactly evenly. Certain areas in the battery pack – generally in the middle – never get as cool as either end, so the central modules wear out faster due to more heat. To counteract this, the robot positions the modules in a specific order so that the modules wear out more evenly overall, resulting in longer battery life.

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AAPEX 2022 will be held November 1-3 at the Venetian Expo & Caesar’s Forum in Las Vegas, while SEMA Show 2022 will conclude November 1-4 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Then on the Friday after SEMA concludes the show, the public will watch from grandstands as an hour-long parade of show vehicles leave the LVCC in what is known as the SEMA Cruise and make their way to SEMA Ignited, SEMA’s official after-party show, power. The OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) cars will race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a weekend of exciting motorsport competition by invitation only.

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Copyright © 2022 Jan Wagner – Auto Matters & more #758


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