Friday, March 16, 2007

Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage

ACR doesn't know this writer, but it certainly is a relief that not every college student in Connecticut is a dopey leftist such as Spazeboy

Clearly thanks to the facts the writer exposes, Connecticut should not only repeal the sales/use tax exemption the vehicle currently enjoys, but replace it with a substantial surcharge due to the buyers insistence on ruining the environment.

Considering the damage these vehicles wreck upon the planet incarceration of those guilty of promoting such cars should be considered as well.

CCSU Recorder

The article below is the copyrighted property of The CCSU Recorder and and is reposted here in it's entirety pending formal permission to do so. (Otherwise we'll trim it and leave up the link to the paper itself.)

By Chris Demorro
Staff Writer

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 Prius’s 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 wouldn’t 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 environmentalist’s 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 doesn’t 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 haven’t 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 Prius’s 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.

Copyright © 2007, The Recorder




  1. Love it!

    This reminds me of the "paper or plastic" debate form a few years back, when grocery stores started carrying both types of bags. The Green types usually went for paper: it's renewable and won't hang around for the next 500 years in a landfill. I used to ask for paper, myself, until I learned that paper bags used a hugely disproportionate amount of energy to produce. Gas for the logging chainsaws and transport trucks, tons of coal for fueling the pulping process, the chemicals involved, etc.

    The lesson is that nothing is as simple as it seems.

    Tom Accuosti
    The Tao of Masonry

  2. The original article is an opinion piece (i.e., no fact-checking) for a college newspaper that publishes wild claims in a pathetic attempt to draw attention to itself. In February, The Recorder published "Rape only hurts if you fight it" and now in March, "Prius outdoes hummer." This newspaper and this article are garbage.

    1. Regarding new EPA mileage estimates, Demorro claims the Chevy Aveo's mileage puts it within "spitting distance" of the Prius. The new EPA combined mileage put the Chevy Aveo at 26 mpg, the Toyota Prius at 46 mpg. So I guess 20 miles more per gallon is "spitting distance."

    2. The "Dust-to-dust" study is from a marketing firm, not a science journal. It arrives at an artificially high cost for the Prius by assigning it an arbitrary lifespan of 100k miles, and a Hummer 300k miles. There's Prius being used as cabs that have 200k on them now:

    And, insofar as a car lasting, what car do you expect to repair less? A Toyota Prius or a GM Hummer? You can check Consumer Reports for the answer to that one. A good analysis of the flaws in dust-to-dust is available

    3. The Sudbury info is seriously outdated, and the comment about moon buggies (like, when did Nasa test moon buggies — early 1970’s) ought to have given the author a clue. Sudbury was polluted by a century of mining (1870 on). In fact, some of Sudbury’s nickel went into making the Statue of Liberty. Currently, the mine is owned by INCO (not Toyota), and produces 100,000 tons of nickel a year, of which Toyota buys 1% (1000 tons). Blaming Toyota for the pollution at Sudbury is ludicrous. Nickel, by the way, is primarily used to make stainless steel. The Mail on Sunday newspaper, which ran the story the college article is a thin re-write of (visible here ), used a stock photo you can buy online taken in 1994 to illustrate the pollution (visible here ). There were, of course, no Prius in existence or being manufactured in 1994.

    Furthermore, Sudbury is no longer this polluted, as INCO and the city have planted over 8 million trees there since 1979. The best history online of the Sudbury devastation/reforestation comes from GM Canada -- that's GM, maker of the Hummer, ahem, writing about how Sudbury was polluted and how it has come back. Really, one should blame Chicago more than Toyota, as Sudbury's trees were all cut down in 1871 to help rebuild Chicago after the fire. GM provides telling photos of some of the reclamation from 1979 to present.

    Canadian news recently broadcast a show on Sudbury's regreening ((the acid rain problem David Martin of Greenpeace is talking about is the situation pre 1972)).

    The author of this article, Demorro, is so inaccurate with his facts that in his follow-up piece he recommends people buy a Tesla Roadster for $30,000. The Tesla Roadster actually costs $92,000.


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