Skip to comments.Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage
Posted on 03/14/2007 2:00:06 PM PDT by tcrlaf
The Toyota Prius has become the flagship car for those in our society so environmentally conscious that they are willing to spend a premium to show the world how much they care.
Unfortunately for them, their ultimate green car is the source of some of the worst pollution in North America; it takes more combined energy per Prius to produce than a Hummer.
Before we delve into the seedy underworld of hybrids, you must first understand how a hybrid works. For this, we will use the most popular hybrid on the market, the Toyota Prius.
The Prius is powered by not one, but two engines: a standard 76 horsepower, 1.5-liter gas engine found in most cars today and a battery- powered engine that deals out 67 horsepower and a whooping 295ft/lbs of torque, below 2000 revolutions per minute.
Essentially, the Toyota Synergy Drive system, as it is so called, propels the car from a dead stop to up to 30mph. This is where the largest percent of gas is consumed. As any physics major can tell you, it takes more energy to get an object moving than to keep it moving. The battery is recharged through the braking system, as well as when the gasoline engine takes over anywhere north of 30mph. It seems like a great energy efficient and environmentally sound car, right?
You would be right if you went by the old government EPA estimates, which netted the Prius an incredible 60 miles per gallon in the city and 51 miles per gallon on the highway.
Unfortunately for Toyota, the government realized how unrealistic their EPA tests were, which consisted of highway speeds limited to 55mph and acceleration of only 3.3 mph per second.
The new tests which affect all 2008 models give a much more realistic rating with highway speeds of 80mph and acceleration of 8mph per second.
This has dropped the Priuss EPA down by 25 percent to an average of 45mpg. This now puts the Toyota within spitting distance of cars like the Chevy Aveo, which costs less then half what the Prius costs.
However, if that was the only issue with the Prius, I wouldnt be writing this article. It gets much worse.
Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that is on the road for three times longer than a Prius.
As already noted, the Prius is partly driven by a battery which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the dead zone around the plant to test moon rovers.
The area around the plant is devoid of any life for miles.
The plant is the source of all the nickel found in a Prius battery and Toyota purchases 1,000 tons annually. Dubbed the Superstack, the plague-factory has spread sulfur dioxide across northern Ontario, becoming every environmentalists nightmare.
The acid rain around Sudbury was so bad it destroyed all the plants and the soil slid down off the hillside, said Canadian Greenpeace energy-coordinator David Martin during an interview with Mail, a British-based newspaper.
All of this would be bad enough in and of itself; however, the journey to make a hybrid doesnt end there. The nickel produced by this disastrous plant is shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe.
From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce nickel foam. From there, it goes to Japan.
Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery. Are these not sounding less and less like environmentally sound cars and more like a farce?
Wait, I havent even got to the best part yet.
When you pool together all the combined energy it takes to drive and build a Toyota Prius, the flagship car of energy fanatics, it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a Hummer - the Priuss arch nemesis.
Through a study by CNW Marketing called Dust to Dust, the total combined energy is taken from all the electrical, fuel, transportation, materials (metal, plastic, etc) and hundreds of other factors over the expected lifetime of a vehicle. The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.
The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it.
So, if you are really an environmentalist - ditch the Prius. Instead, buy one of the most economical cars available - a Toyota Scion xB. The Scion only costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to put on the road. If you are still obsessed over gas mileage - buy a Chevy Aveo and fix that lead foot.
One last fun fact for you: it takes five years to offset the premium price of a Prius. Meaning, you have to wait 60 months to save any money over a non-hybrid car because of lower gas expenses.
But not so funny seeing how many read this article as fact. I love my Silverado 2500HD but there is no way in hell its greener than something 1/4 the size.
Sudbury's been there a long time (mining, I mean). It's actually an high-metal-content asteroid. I apologize if you knew that already.
"The Sudbury Structure is the remnant of a 1.85 Ga multiring impact basin and is a geological feature of extraordinary economic and scientific significance that remains enigmatic in many important respects. Sudbury, Canada and Noril'sk-Talnak, Russia are two of the world-class Ni producing regions. The Sudbury ore deposits have produced over 264 billion dollars worth of metal in the past century from over 70 Ni-Cu-PGE deposits and two minor, past producing hydrothermal Zn-Pb-Cu deposits. The continued prosperity of the Sudbury region depends on mining in the Sudbury Structure at considerably greater depths and smarter use of new geoscience knowledge created to find the lucrative hydrothermal- magmatic Cu-PGE vein deposits at shallow levels."
The page below indicates that NiMH batteries are recyclable. Seems like the auto industry will have to get on board with that.
I must grovel before your greater glory
Did you get the new Powerstroke 6.3l twin turbo diesel? The fuel costs a bit more. You will get a bit better mileage with the diesel. But, if you really need a 3/4 ton truck, there is nothing better to have under the hood. 3X the life expectancy of a gas engine and enough torque to pull your house off the foundation. Not to mention enough tire smoke to hide 10 Prius in your wake.
Not to mention the fact that some of us are indeed rednecks and we like it when the yanks think we are idiotic. It keeps 'em from moving in amongst us. Nothing ruins my day like seeing a car with a New York plate pulling a U-Haul.
I have a Prius. I don't care about environmental issues that much (not that I want to hurt the environment, I just don't think man has that much influence. We flatter ourselves.). I just wanted a car that was reasonably roomy, under $25K and got good mileage. I average around 49 mpg overall. I got the car in November 2004, and now have about 80K miles on it. I believe I have recouped the cost differential many miles ago, and have had a good time with this car. My only regret? Getting mistaken for an enviro whacko. When I am commended for my environmental consciousness I am quick to tell people that I really don't care about that stuff.
As for the nickel plant and other claims in the article, assuming they are true-- I don't care. Those problems appear to be in Canada, China and Japan, countries who chose to have those problems. I live the US.
I ain't a Redneck, but all my friends are.
Pray for W and Our Troops
You said: I'm not sure the new test is realistic at all. All the Priuses (Priui?) that I've passed on the highway looked like they were straining to stay at 65. Can they really get up to 80 short of being dropped out of an airplane without a chute?
I don't care too much about going 80 as I get older, but my Prius will get there with no difficulty. I usually cruise at around 74, no strain, around 50 mpg.
Upstate New Yorkers know how to keep a secret. We stay quiet so all the city people head south and west. :)
.....ha ha ha.....
.....with about 100k miles on it.....
.....I'm about 1/3 of the way through doing my part for the environment.....
"Oh my G*d! There's a huge cloud of SMUG settleing in."
He was pegged at 100% on the Liberal-Smug-o-meter.
Then reality hit and he found that the mileage claims were Clintonesque.
Great stuff. I just sent this to a Cal Berkley grad, who is on her second Prius.
Please FReepmail me if you want on or off my miscellaneous ping list.
Some kick him for me too.
Now, what was the article about. /s
We've had our Prius for 6 years, and we've only had to replace tires. We haven't even needed to change the oil in it.
I don't get the 5 year life span. We're not even close to getting rid of it.
The batteries don't cost thousands of dollars and the warranty is for 10 years.
They have excellent acceleration. The gearing is different, but I don't remember how they do it. It's some sort of electronic gearing so it can go from 0-60 more quickly than most cars. My husband drives our Prius, and I drive a mini-van. The Prius is certainly better than our mini-van, but that isn't much of a comparison.
The Prius handles very nicely. My mom has a Lexus Sedan that I have driven regularly, and the Prius handles comparably to it. Both cars are very quiet, heavy, and maneuver well. The Lexus just looks much better both inside and out.
The Prius is a Toyota, and Toyota makes great cars.
My husband didn't get our Prius for environmental reasons either. He was originally in the market for a new SUV after he was in a crash with our old Explorer.
Since he was test driving cars, he decided to test drive the Prius.
He thought it was more fun to drive than the other cars he was test driving. He was sold. He loved how the gas engine turned off at lights, he loved the acceleration. He also liked the technology of it.
The author's expected life numbers for both the Prius and the Hummer are ridiculous.
Toyota warrants the batteries in a Prius for 8 years/100,000 miles.
The powertrain warranty on a Hummer is 5 years/100,000 miles.
Assuming that the engineers at Toyota are not substantially dumber than the engineers at GM (a VERY safe assumption), the batteries on the Prius will give out about the same time as the engine needs to be rebuilt on the Hummer.
(Note: new batteries cost MUCH less than the engine rebuild, less than $2000)
Actually, I made a mistake, they don't cost $25,000. The cars don't even cost that much.
The estimate is somewhere between 3000-5000. However, with a 10 year warranty I don't think we'll be replacing ours. We'll probably trade ours in at that point. We've never gotten much on cars we trade in, so I doubt we'll get much on this one.
I'll be happy if we get $2000 after 10 years.
.....it has the same engine as a 3500 Chevy.....
.....I got 7 of them, and some of them have well over 200k miles on them with only oil changes.....
.....(but all of them more than a couple of years old have had to have the battery replaced, same with my H2).....
If you want to know how long a thing will last, and if you can assume the person specifying the warranty was an engineer and not a marketer or other species of homo moronicus, a safe bet is about twice the warranty length.
Some will last much longer, but that should be about average.
.....with the exceptions of our vehicles.....
.....99.99% of every thing I ever bought lasted exactly one day longer than the warranty!!!!!.....
.....(my cynicism may be showing!;).....
Since when did an "environmentalist" care about the facts? (I think that would have been sometime around the early 70's, if then.)
This possibility seems to escape the hysterical crowd here.
As an engineer, I was fascinated by the technology, the implementation and the actual experience of driving one for an extended period.
I commuted almost 4 years in my 2003 Prius. Loved it, was never bored.
Whenever I am dumped on, I simply switch the subject to my 4-Runner...
I misspoke; I should have said redneck-wannabes. Read the posts. They're either from early teens or early-teen mentality...
Thanks for the thoughtful and useful post. As I suspected, that mine was there long before the Prius was even a concept, and to blame any environmental degradation, as was done in the original article, is puerile, absurd and misleading to the point of irrelevance.
Sudbury's been there a long time (mining, I mean). It's actually an high-metal-content asteroid. I apologize if you knew that already.
I learn at least one useful thing daily, here at FR.
No, I was not aware of the importance of this site, although I was aware that Canada is home to some of the largest impact craters on earth, discovered so far.
Those links are fascinating, and no apology is necessary.
I'm pretty sure we'll be getting another Prius. I figure it's getting about time, but right now it's running great. I hate getting rid of a great running car. We'll probably just wait until we need some major work on it or it looks horrible.
The only car we ever had to get rid of "early" was my old Toyota Celica. After our son, we had twins, and we wanted 2 cars that could hold all 5 of us comfortably. The Celica didn't fit that bill.
Sometimes ignorance can be breathtaking...
I suppose you're not old enough to know that "a little learning is a dangerous thing"...
You really should do homework, sometime before you die of old age.
Thanks to ogitator for that link.
Of course, chemicals are not all equally toxic. The three worst "baddies" in batteryland are:
lead, cadmium, and mercury.
Other battery compounds like silver, zinc, and nickel can also be problems, but less so.
Guess what your cool car battery is made of?
You've responded to my single post twice. I happen to ride a motorcycle and drive a car. I know what my batteries are made of and I know that they ARE recycleable and have been doing that for years.
As for my reply about costs, I was going off of a discussion I had heard a couple of years ago, but as the site linked here shows, these are still more expensive than many people realize.
"For the Prius, new the hybrid battery is running about US$1100 (as of spring 2006), but if you were to buy one off of eBay from a wrecked vehicle it is usually less than US$1000, closer to the US$500 range..."
In addition, there appear to be other problems in operating this type of car. See the Consumer Affairs link below.
As for me, I understand that the most efficient mass produced powerplant is the gasoline piston engine. If there was something else out there as efficient, there would be a market for it. For your enjoyment:
I am sorry if I overreacted to your "memory lapse".
This original overestimate of 2300% (which you failed to subsequently address) was the sole reason for my attention.
"For the Prius, new the hybrid battery is running about US$1100 (as of spring 2006_...
Having visited Sudbury frequently and lived there briefly, I can categorically state that the author has wildly overstated the environmental impact of the INCO smelter. NASA used the region to train the Apollo astronauts because the terrain has always been rocky, but there's still plenty of greenery in and around the city.
20/30 mpg with a Hemi? BS. I have '69 Charger 500 & '06 Ram 1500, both with Hemi's. Neither one of them remotely approaches 20 mpg hwy, let alone city. Luckily, mpg was not what I purchased them for.
Mine is a Yamaha Vino 125, 100mpg :-D
That will change when I change the air filtration and exhaust systems. Temporary.
I'm very pleased with it- 16 months and 30,000km without a single breakdown and only $300 worth of major maintenance (drive belt and front brake pads). I plan to upgrade within a year to something a bit faster with more cargo capacity, either a Piaggio X9 or Piaggio MP3.
And many, even here on FR, have dismissed us.
Glad to have it confirmed.
Will they listen now?
Oh, something's been confirmed, all right.
Just not what you think.
Nice touch, that "environmental disaster" myth.
You wouldn't be interested in a bridge, would you? I also have a Nigerian friend who can make you rich...
Why don't we get more engineers from our schools?
The reasons often given for a lack of interest in the hard sciences obfuscate the point. One MSM op-ed writer was so clueless he said "And then something happened [in the 1970s to 1980s] -- and U.S. students turned away from hard science."
I'll tell you what happened: The environmental religion gave birth to the Environmental Protection Agency. In 1972, the EPA banned DDT for purely ideological reasons. Since then, science and engineering have become increasingly polluted by a religion that characterizes the Earth as sacred and mankind as an evil polluter with our gas and oil wells, nuclear power plants and chemical refineries.
The constant propagandizing in the textbooks is driving many away from the hard sciences while condemning others to sickness and death from malaria and West Nile virus.
Science has become increasingly politicized with the global warming fraud. Man-made global warming is a complete fiction. So-called scientists and U.N. sycophants have committed the "Enron of climate science" by intentionally covering up the medieval-era warm period to make the 20th century look like the warmest on record.
The professional organizations (IEEE, etc.) need to expose the charlatans and let the boys and girls know that there's no room for politics in science and engineering. Then it will regain the respect of moral and ethical people who wish to contribute to the betterment of society.
Nizhniy Tagil, Russia.
Ya the study was seriously flawed, it was paid for by Hummer... but its a funny thought, though not true