Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Prius Vs. Hummer

My brother just sent me a link to this article. It opens with the following paragraph:
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.

Good points are raised in the article, using extreme examples. a CNW Marketing report is cited as the primary source. In it, various vehicles are evaluated from an environmental point of view, but not purely based on emissions generated while driving. The energy (and pollution) equation for a single vehicle is much greater than it's fuel efficiency. The main downfall of the Prius is the Nickel that is used in its batteries, and the great distances that this nickel travels around the world being processed before it makes it into the vehicle.
I appreciate the full equation approach when evaluating vehicles, appliances, etc. For example, ethanol fuel - most of it is corn based, ie. processed from corn grains. The corn is grown using fertilizers and pesticides, most of which are fossil fuel based. It is harvested and processed using equipment which runs on diesel (most tractors). It is refined in a plant likely running on fossil fuel power (natural gas or oil) or coal, or nuclear. You can use it in your car and feel good about yourself, because you are burning a 'green-fuel' in your car, but that's looking at it from a very narrow viewpoint. Give me some other examples...

Update: Apparently someone has uploaded this article to an auto discussion forum, and it has generated some serious debate.


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