Being in the business, I always hear my clients speak of the competition. One thing I heard not so long ago was that it takes more combined energy to create a Prius than a Hummer. It has been claimed as an urban myth by most groups yet I wanted to find out where this rumor came from.
Well, I did my homework online and found the source of this story. It came from an article put out by The Recorder, the central Connecticut State University paper. Before even reading the article I knew this claim would have something to do with the batteries for the Prius. Just my lifetime exposure to autos and years of automotive experience told me that the only thing really different between your typical auto and a hybrid is the electronics, generator and batteries.
As figured, the claim that the Prius pollutes more is based on the production and transport of nickel for the on-board rechargeable battery pack. The nickel is actually mined and smelted in Sudbury, Ontario (Canada) by Inco. The nickel is then shipped to a refinery in Europe. From there, the nickel goes to China to produce nickel foam. Then, it goes to Japan. In Japan Panasonic manufactures the battery itself, then it's off to the Toyota plant for final vehicle assembly. Lastly the cars are shipped to the United States, completing the world tour required for a Prius battery.
The main source of the information for The Recorder's story was sourced from CNW Marketing. This company compiles the information on combined energy it takes to build an auto. this includes; electrical, fuel, transportation, materials (metal, plastic, etc) and many other factors over the expected lifetime of a vehicle. In recent years the report from CNW has been contradicted although I still think they have an interesting point.
Read more about the controversy at Wikipedia.com
What about the claimed 60mpg Toyota said the car got until the new EPA standards came out? We now know that the car averages closer to 45mpg (combined city/hwy). Which isn't so much more than the Chevy Aveo or Honda Fit, yet a Prius costs twice as much with common mark ups.Let's look at the argument of fuel cost savings.
If you drive a Prius15,000 miles a year, which is now the national average, this means your annual fuel cost is $1,082 (based off $3.25p/gal and 45mpg avg.). At a 35mpg average your annual fuel cost is $1,392. This means the fuel difference is $309. That's great, not as much as I thought but okay. Does this saving justify the premium most pay for a Prius? Not in my opinion if your savings over ten years is all of $3,000. Now I know Prius owners far and wide will tell me they get 50+ mpg on any given road trip, which is fine. the thing I want to know is where do these hazardous batteries go once their life cycle ends?
Do your homework before you buy. I'm not saying Hybrids aren't neat but there are other options if saving gas and the environment is your priority. There are several PZEV cars on the market now. Even non-PZEV cars with great gas mileage may be greener for both the environment and your pocket book.
Knowledge is key,
Side note: Is it just me or are Prius owners always speeding? I get passed by more Prius than BMW's on the 101!