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.
What kind of idiot numbers are they generating ? Lifetime costs of 585,000 dollars for a Hummer and 325,000 dollars for a Prius?
Cars are expensive at times ... but not THAT expensive.
"which costs less then half what the Prius costs."
Writers should take English as a major. It's not that hard.
Ever try to dispose of Ni-Cad batteries properly? That is where the primary costs come in. Batteries die. When they do, they will have to be replaced. The replacement batteries are approx $25k if I remember correctly. And good luck disposing of the old battery without having to sell your home.
My Hemi eats Yaris and Prius for breakfast and I still get 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway. Of course you will only see a flash when I pass....I have lead foot disease.
bttt. Someone who's letting facts get in the way of feelings. FOR SHAME!
In California they get to use the car pool lane as well, adding insult to injury.
I shared that opinion until recently. Have you driven the Hummer?
I shared that opinion until recently. Have you driven the Hummer?
Their fun to cut off on the Freeway, it's not like their ever going to catch you! Basically an expensive Yugo.
Pray for W and Our Troops
How long does the battery last in the Prius, and how much will it cost to replace?
The Toyota Prius battery is designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle and considering that the Prius is designed to be as durable as any other Toyota, and considering Toyota's reputation, that is a pretty long time. Toyota have lab data showing the Prius battery can do 180,000 miles (290,000km) of normal driving with absolutely no degradation of the battery's performance. To give some real life examples, there is a Vancouver taxi driver, Andrew Grant, who has done over 320,000km in his Prius taxi and another Canadian taxi driver Jatinder Parhar who has traveled over 410,000km in his Toyota Prius Generation II Prius taxi. Neither of them has had to do anything to their Toyota Prius taxis other than standard servicing. (click to read more here). Toyota have stated in a recent press release that they have sold over 100,000 Generation II Prius in the USA and have never had to replace a battery due to wear and tear. (click here to read Toyota Press release). Given all this, the price of a replacement battery is probably irrelevant, however in the extremely unlikely event you needed to replace the battery in your Prius, current cost, at time of writing (Oct 2006), is NZ$4000.00 for a Generation II Prius and NZ$2750 for a Generation III Prius. However this is coming down all the time. When we first looked into this at 2 years ago the battery packs were priced at $7000 each. We believe the price will fall to around $2000 within a year or so given the increased production of Hybrid Vehicles using this type of battery. For piece of mind every Toyota Prius brought from The Clean Green Car Company is covered by a 2 year, unlimited km Hybrid Car Warranty that includes cover for the battery pack.
ping self to forward to all my Prius owning friends in the bay area....lol. They will deny everything of course and mine will be an exercise in futility.
Me, I'm partial to late '70s GM trucks. I figure that by reusing an existing truck, that's one less vehicle that needs to be built. Since these trucks have passed through several pairs of hands by now (in most cases), or been held on to by owners who don't see the point in fixing what ain't broke, that's several new vehicles that overall weren't needed. I am reducing the amount of pollution generated overall, and more than offsetting anything the truck might generate as I drive it (I am assuming, like this article, that producing a vehicle creates more pollution than the vehicle itself will generate in its lifetime).
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?
Yes and certainly much more comfortably than the Subaru and small pickups I've owned.
That has to be one of the least suitable cars for a taxi. Better than a Golf, but not much else.
covered by a 2 year, unlimited km Hybrid Car Warranty that includes cover for the battery pack.
Sounds like the battery is good for a little over 2 years. My current car is closing in on 18 years. That's the equivalent of 9 battery pack warranties.
No it sounds like the warranty for that particular car is good for two years. Surely you didn't have an 18 year warranty.