• Hyundai announces lifetime battery warranty for Sonata Hybrid
  • Warranty covers replacement and recycling of failed battery
  • Most comprehensive battery warranty among hybrid vehicles

Adding to an already robust warranty program, Hyundai announced new coverage for the battery in the 2012 Sonata Hybrid. Part of the Hyundai Assurance program, the coverage includes no-cost replacement of a failed battery and covers any disposal costs.

Hyundai is well known for its industry leading warranty coverage. The company owes its success in part to offering a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty, a move that changed public perception about the quality of the brand and boosted sales. Even for car buyers that would not keep vehicles for the warranty's duration, the coverage showed Hyundai's confidence in its products.

Concerns about the long-term durability of hybrid batteries remain among new-car shoppers, but a longer warranty could help alleviate fears of high-cost battery replacement. Michael O'Brien, Hyundai's vice president of corporate and product planning, says the lifetime battery warranty reflects confidence in the Sonata Hybrid's lithium polymer technology.

"The Hyundai brand was built on outstanding quality backed by the industry's best protection program which we call Hyundai Assurance," said O'Brien. "Expanding Hyundai Assurance to include Lifetime Battery Replacement Guarantee was another opportunity for us to demonstrate our confidence in the durability of our product, and pass that peace-of-mind on to our owners."

Hyundai says the lithium polymer setup is ideal for application in a hybrid vehicle because it stands up to a wide operating temperature range and a lifecycle greater than that required by other devices like consumer electronics. In long-term testing over 300,000 miles - a distance greater than many vehicles ever reach - the Sonata Hybrid's battery degradation was "minimal" in terms of performance, according to Hyundai.

Indeed, a lifetime warranty may be enough to convince skeptics of the Sonata Hybrid battery's durability. Concerns about how long hybrid batteries will last and the high costs of eventual replacement are crucial for potential buyers comparing hybrid ownership costs with those of more conventionally powered vehicles. Removing battery replacement from the equation is likely to make the decision to go hybrid that much easier for many.

What it means to you: A lifetime battery warranty on the Sonata Hybrid may ease concerns about durability, but Hyundai is not confirming that such a warranty is being offered.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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