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.
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