View Full Version : Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage

03-20-2007, 09:27 PM

Linky: http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/editorial/editorial_item.asp?NewsID=188


March 7, 2007
Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage
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.

03-20-2007, 10:19 PM

so much for buying a camry hybrid, I'll just buy the fully decked xle

03-20-2007, 10:32 PM
That article is ridiculous; it's also blatantly written from such an un-professional one sided viewpoint that it's plainly obvious the writter is just trying to stir something up for popularity. Consider that the "big" argument is about the production of Nickel used in the farking batteries? Are you trying to tell us the Hummer uses no nickle?

Almost every metal component in that "enviro-friendly" hummer uses Nickel... It's used in everything from the batteries to the body panels in almost every major car made in the last 50 years. Consider the extra amount of materials needed to build a vehicle the size of the hummer, and I bet the concentrated nickel used in the prius' batteries is almost a wash with the amount of nickel used to make alloys in the hummer.

More importantly, the cost calculations don't seem to consider other consumables the hummer goes through faster than the prius. Consider how the bulk of a hummer eats through tires and brake pads faster. Making either of those items is as far from enviro-friendly as you can get. You could even start looking at things like the extra oil a hummer gets every time you change the oil, and all the waste that produces.

Edit: Also, take a look at the source of the info, CNW Marketing. I can't find anything published by them that is *not* an anti-hybrid argument. Everything from cost to environmental impact is being debated by them. This is a MARKETING FIRM, not an independent researcher. I bet you they're on the payroll of someone with an interest in seeing the decline of hybrids.

I'll be one of the first to say the current generation of hybrids aren't perfect, and the enviromental "savings" is not the reason to buy them. But it is a good step, and this is an infant stage for this type of tech in our market. Give it ten years, then we'll see which method is better for the planet.

03-20-2007, 10:49 PM
There are a number of problems associated with this article. First, a journalist is INTERPRETING numbers provided by a research study. Without delving into the study itself, any interpretation (especially by a journalist, not a scientist) should be questioned. For instance, the report offers an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles for a hummer and 100,000 miles for a Prius. When was the last time you saw an american-made car, even a Japanese car (especially one built for power and rugged use) last 300,000 miles? Even if the chassis makes it through this abuse, the engine and drivetrain won't....guaranteed. So by replacing those you're adding more energy cost into the hummer. Likewise, 100,000 miles seems awfully conservative for a Prius. Granted, components for them will likely need to be replaced over a full lifetime, but Toyota has measures in place that allow them to recycle their hybrid batteries and other elecrical components instead of dumping fresh energy harvested from raw natural resources as GM has to do with the hummer. The other thing I'll mention is this: the entire study is done in terms of dollars so that the customer can understand "value" as opposed to reading scientific standards of measurement. A large argument (biased in my OPINION) is that the Prius "won't pay for itself" until the fifth year. So what? People pay more money for a Prius or any other hybrid by another manufacturer, not because they expect their money BACK, but because they are willing to LOSE money to help the environment. Everybody reads "premium" when they look at hybrids and thinks: how long would I have to drive it to get my money back? It doesn't matter! You're not a true environmentalist if you think this way. It's a donation...like to OSPIRG or any other organization that helps the environment. I'll admit that a lot of my comments here aren't cited by research, but it's out there. Search for it yourself and you'll see, I just don't have the energy to do another report while I'm studying for finals :wiggle:

03-20-2007, 10:53 PM
this makes me want a smoke blowin diesel truck :wiggle:

03-20-2007, 11:32 PM
"it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a Hummer "

What the hell do they mean by just "energy?"

03-21-2007, 02:24 AM
Ha, what a joke. Good call by Melchior and jason. Also note that every ni-cad (nickel-cadmium) battery on earth uses the same sources as the Prius batteries which are probably a miniscule amount compared to the overall number of batteries. Also note that researchers are constantly testing and developing new batteries trying to find a better battery than ni-cad. One computer company in the Silicon Valley has decided to develop an electric car and it runs on lithium-ion batteries.

03-21-2007, 02:32 AM
needs to run on lipos

03-21-2007, 02:36 AM
Nickel is not destroying our Ozone, that would be carbon monoxide.

Also, the Chevy Aveo comparison is a moot point, as he forgot to figure in that the the Aveo's current claims would also go down.

Luis C
03-21-2007, 03:43 AM
Right... so how much does a monster tire from a Hummer polute over a small 13' or 14' from a Prius? Plain stupid, they should not allow to publish this kind of crap

03-21-2007, 06:46 AM
bullshit article, one sides and biased. proves that nickel moves around the world at best.

03-21-2007, 09:11 AM
Definatly a one sider. Toyota has been one of the most involved companies working towards saving the environment. They currently have 11 hybrid models out, and have many programs in effect that are environment friendly. That guy needs to buy a SmartCar and shut up.

03-21-2007, 09:16 AM
This is BS at its greatest.

03-21-2007, 01:22 PM
"100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid"

"expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer"

Good luck with that, too bad about the hybrids taxis in BC that have well over 300k on them now.... with no major repairs other than brakes, tires, and oil changes

03-21-2007, 03:08 PM
^yea, if your technically experienced, esspecially in computers and automobile and evern more if you build electronics and cars, you know this is BS.

03-22-2007, 02:04 AM
Nickel is not destroying our Ozone, that would be carbon monoxide.

AHHHHHHHH NO!!!!! See if you guys want to actually start learning things STOP LISTENING TO THE GOVERNMENT, and especially the tree huggers. They are all into the political bullshit. They have no true science behind any of their claims. The thing you have to realize whenever they say anything, if someone in their party stands to benefit from this then they will promote it. Carbon Monoxide IS NOT what is killing us. Honestly take some time to watch this whole video, this is made by true scientists who stand not to make any money from this.
The media has made us believe all this, and this whole global warming talk is complete BULLSHIT COMPLETE! There is absolutely no way you can say that the emissions from the cars are causing global warming. BEFORE you shoot me down and say anything watch the whole movie. I agree we pollute way to much, and we need to clean up our act, but to say we are causing global warming is BS. We believe everything they say and we will just be little clones running around getting our cars etested every 20 days. The earth has gone through hotter temperature cycles many times, and colder cycles other times......just watch the damn video.


03-22-2007, 08:13 AM
'Tis true. In an interview before the release of his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" Al Gore, one of the worlds leading speakers on global warming, openly admitted that the majority of the film was unfounded or fictional and that "global warming" itself is a very thin theory. Can't remember who the interview was with but I was not surprised one little bit to hear him say it.

03-22-2007, 11:59 AM
Ya its a once sided rambling i think. But since when does a toyota prius only last 100,000 miles? Thats some bullcrap, all that money and you only get 100,000 miles out of it? And how come they argue about nickle destroying the enviroment. But they dont argue about how much rubber those hummers use.

The hummer uses a TON more material then the little prius, every car uses nickle... The prius may use more, but the hummer uses so many other materials it dosent matter.