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Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage

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Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage

Old 04-13-07, 12:38 PM
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Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage


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.
http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/edito...asp?NewsID=188

I don't know how much truth there is to this, but dang. I guess I will cross a Prius of my list of potential cars once mine goes under. And who knew Hummer's were supposed to last 300k??
Old 04-13-07, 12:50 PM
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Old 04-13-07, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Brent_MN
http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/edito...asp?NewsID=188

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.
Urban myth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Sudbury,_Ontario

During the Apollo manned lunar exploration program, NASA astronauts trained in Sudbury, to become familiar with shatter cones, a rare rock formation connected with meteorite impacts. However, the popular misconception that they were visiting Sudbury because it purportedly resembled the lifeless surface of the moon dogged the city for years.
Old 04-13-07, 12:52 PM
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It is unlikely any vehicle lasts 300k around here in the Rust Belt.

I also wonder how the Hummer fares with the "new" epa guidelines, or do those only apply to the Prius?

I don't care too much, since I own an xB!

I will make my final decision after olddude replies...
Old 04-13-07, 12:54 PM
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but it feels good
Old 04-13-07, 01:10 PM
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The average person isn't going to care. They only thing they'll care about is that they are saving gas money. Besides the only enviromental damage is being done in that plant in Ontario. It didn't say that Europe, China, and Japan cause enviromental damage when nickel gets shipped there. By driving these hydrids, you're lowering pollution and gas dependency all over the world. It's for the greater good. Besides if Toyota didn't do this, all those people in Japan, China, and Europe would be out of jobs. The Hummer probaly gets one of the worst mileages out of any car. It also comes in dead last in almost every performance statistic. Someone from Green Peace would probaly rather drive a Prius than a Hummer.
Old 04-13-07, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by leest3
Someone from Green Peace would probaly get a hummer over a Prius.
corrected.

I'm wondering how much it's going to cost to replace the electric engine when it goes to hell. Or anything related to it. It's not like they've had decades and decades to master it, like the combustible one...derrr..
Old 04-13-07, 01:14 PM
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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.
Good point, because gas prices can only stay the same or lower in that five years...
Old 04-13-07, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by jonw9
It is unlikely any vehicle lasts 300k around here in the Rust Belt.

I also wonder how the Hummer fares with the "new" epa guidelines, or do those only apply to the Prius?

I don't care too much, since I own an xB!

I will make my final decision after olddude replies...
ALL cars lose some mileage in the new tests. However, it is true that higher efficiency cars lose MORE when tested real world (and they were most discrepant to their old labels).

Hybrid batteries are really pretty small compared to what "all-electric" cars have, simply because they don't transport the car any real distance under electric power. It is more of a short term buffer to "borrow" power for acceleration or recover regenerative braking energy.

I've been by Sudbury on my way to other places and never noticed this dead zone. Either it is very small or utter bullshit. In any case, what about all those laptop batteries. I guarantee the total nickel going to laptop batteries annually far exceeds that going to hybrids.

Every life cycle analysis I've seen of cars, whether pollution or energy, has been dominated by fuel used (80-90%), not by manufacturing operations (10-20%). I don't know this journalist from Adam, and I'd have to see this analysis performed by a real expert and his credentials discussed before I believe it. I believe the entire article is a great heaping pile of non-biodegradable bullshit, without bothering to carefully research the crazy claims.

That being said, there is a valid question whether hybrids save enough energy to pay back their extra costs. Clean diesels that meet the new emissions standards are probably a better way to go for the individual, and perhaps better national energy policy.
Old 04-13-07, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
I don't know this journalist from Adam, and I'd have to see this analysis performed by a real expert and his credentials discussed before I believe it. I believe the entire article is a great heaping pile of non-biodegradable bullshit, without bothering to carefully research the crazy claims.
I wasn't sure how credible the source was. My mom actually got the article emailed to her by a Ford dealer she sells advertising space to in the local newspaper.
Old 04-13-07, 01:57 PM
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this was posted on fatwallet a while back. someone there tore it apart and said it wasn't a good comparisson

all cars have nickel and a bunch of other metals that cause enviromental damage in manufacturing
Old 04-13-07, 02:01 PM
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So I am looking at the title of this guys article... I am having a problem with the word "outdoes". Am I crazy? It just doesn't read right. Is it a word? I know "outdo" is and "outdid" I think, but "outdoes"? Hmm.. I must be bored.
Old 04-13-07, 02:20 PM
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Ah, the superstack. The unseen evil of Ontario. It keeps the airborne toxins from contaminating Sudbury, but it rains down everywhere else. Hundreds of kilometres away.
Old 04-13-07, 02:36 PM
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You guys doubt the facts of an article that only appears in the editorial section of the Central Connecticut State University newspaper?! For shame.

(Yet, like all good bullshit, people instantly respond to it as though it were gospel -- see several replies above.)
Old 04-13-07, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Brent_MN
corrected.

I'm wondering how much it's going to cost to replace the electric engine when it goes to hell. Or anything related to it. It's not like they've had decades and decades to master it, like the combustible one...derrr..
Yeah, electric motors are a new invention.

1807 - Francois Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland invented an internal combustion engine that used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen for fuel. Rivaz designed a car for his engine - the first internal combustion powered automobile. However, his was a very unsuccessful design.
The principle of conversion of electrical energy into mechanical energy by electromagnetic means was demonstrated by the British scientist Michael Faraday in 1821
So, 14 years makes all the difference?
Old 04-13-07, 04:51 PM
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This article was posted in another thread awhile back. I really doubt its accuracy.
Old 04-13-07, 04:54 PM
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Look, it doesn't matter if it takes more to make the thing, if you keep it, instead of getting a new model every year.

And, it doesn't matter is it is expensive to recycle. DON'T RECYCLE IT! Just drive it until you can't fix it any more, then make it into a lawn ornament.

People think too hard about these things.
Old 04-13-07, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by jonw9
Yeah, electric motors are a new invention.
That aside, I gotta believe it's going to cost more to fix than your run of the mill car engine.

Excuse my engine ignorance. Obviously electric motors aren't a new invention, but they haven't been widely used in cars before, as far as my lack of engine knowledge knows. That's my point.
Old 04-13-07, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Brent_MN
That aside, I gotta believe it's going to cost more to fix than your run of the mill car engine.

Excuse my engine ignorance. Obviously electric motors aren't a new invention, but they haven't been widely used in cars before, as far as my lack of engine knowledge knows. That's my point.
The hybrid electric motor is both a higher power device and a dual use device. However, cars have quite a bit of experience with starter motors and alternators, which start the engine and charge the battery, which curiously is what the hybrid motor does. The hybrid motor is powerful enough to start the car in gear, however.

All the big three made some "all-electric" vehicles to satisfy California a few years ago. Those had much more powerful electric motors. There may have been some battery problems, but I don't really recall high levels of electric motor problems in those vehicles. In fact, several people leasing them sued to hang on to them at the end of lease as the car companies planned to crush them (mostly to avoid a ten year service commitment, which would have been a real PITA due to the small number of vehicles, lack of trained dealers, etc)

Also, early in the 1900s, there were quite a few electric vehicles, eg the Baker Electric. I think the batteries of the time were the main reason they lost favor and the gasoline engine wiped them out (still true today). Trains and streetcars have used electric traction for a century, either from overhead power lines or onboard diesel generators. I would say the transportation industry has a little experience.
Old 04-13-07, 06:41 PM
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Thank you, OldDude. You managed to set me straight without being a tool about it.
Old 04-14-07, 02:50 PM
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The "journalist" who wrote this shabby article also rather unfairly demeans Sudbury. They do admit it used to be bad, but it has been pretty well cleaned up for 25 years or more. They won a UN award for their cleanup, and they now boast cleaner air (lower pollution) than the cities of Toronto or Hamilton.
http://www.cyberbeach.net/~seajay/su...udbury_than_kn

I think the "journalist" Chris Demorro needs to be renamed Chris DeMoran.
Old 04-14-07, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
I think the "journalist" Chris Demorro needs to be renamed Chris DeMoran.
Give the kid a break. It looks like he's just a journalist student. I'm sure once he gets a job at Fox news, some pros will set him straight.
Old 04-14-07, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by funkyryno
I'm sure once he gets a job at Fox news, some pros will set
him straight.
I think this article qualifies as a "2nd interview" with Fox news.
Old 04-15-07, 12:27 AM
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I don't care either way but I saw this on Digg.

Japanese "Mileage Maniacs" hack Prius
Old 04-15-07, 03:01 AM
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Originally Posted by innocentfreak
I don't care either way but I saw this on Digg.

Japanese "Mileage Maniacs" hack Prius


1000 miles on 13 gallons!!

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