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    Arroyo Member

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    It appears The Car Connection is the first major automotive publication to expose the holes in the CNW report:

    Prius Versus HUMMER: Exploding the Myth
    Which one’s more green over a lifetime?
    by Bengt Halvorson (2007-04-16)

    DISCUSS: Which one's greener?

    Over the past year, there has been an explosion of stories raising questions about the real environmental cost of hybrids.

    One of the most misleading ones, which has been spread by countless blogs over the past several weeks, and cited without verification by several sources that appear reputable, looks to have originated in a story last November in England's Daily Mail, a right-leaning, British tabloid paper, which bore the gleefully spiteful title 'Toyota factory turns landscape to arid wilderness.' An editorial, published last month in a newspaper for a small state university on the East Coast, helped bring this misleading report a new life.

    But it isn't a Toyota factory at all. The automaker has, in fact, only been purchasing significant amounts of nickel from the Sudbury , Ontario , Inco mine for its batteries in recent years, while the environmental disaster the headline is referring to largely occurred more than thirty years ago.

    And that ore is at the core of a semi-urban legend that leads to dumb headlines like "HUMMER Greener than Prius," and others we've seen recently.

    Toyota says that nickel has been mined from in Sudbury since the 1800s, and that "the large majority of the environmental damage from nickel mining in and around Sudbury was caused by mining practices that were abandoned decades ago." Out of the Inco mine's 174,800-ton output in 2004, Toyota purchased 1000 tons, just over a half-percent of its output. The plant's emissions of sulfur dioxide are down 90 percent from 1970 levels, and it's targeting a 97-percent reduction in those emissions by 2015, according to Toyota.

    Of course, metal-hydride hybrid batteries aren't the only use for nickel. One widespread use of nickel is for the chrome (chromium-nickel) plating that's widely used in trim and wheels for luxury vehicles. And according to the Nickel Institute, which represents trade groups, manufacturers, and nickel producers, about two-thirds of all nickel mined goes toward stainless steel, which is of course widely used in vehicles - exhaust systems, for instance. Another significant portion goes toward engine alloys - pistons, rings, liners and the like; in general, the larger the engine, the more nickel it's likely to have.

    Living in the limelight

    On to the other, more significant source of these stories: About a year ago, CNW Marketing Research, Inc., of Bandon, Ore., a firm with a well-established reputation for industry forecasting, made claims last year that that hybrid vehicles used more energy in their lifetime, from creation to disposal, than many SUVs. The tagline of one of CNW's releases was, "Hybrids Consumer More Energy in Lifetime Than Chevrolet's Tahoe SUV."

    With the full study released in December, called "Dust to Dust: The Energy Cost of New Vehicles from Concept to Disposal," CNW claims to assess all stages of vehicle production, including research and development, raw material production and sourcing, production and assembly, sales, operation and maintenance, and disposal of the vehicle at the end of its life.

    CNW argues that its study is not geared to be an assault on hybrids, but in interpreting its results CNW states that environmentalists' faith in hybrids as a more efficient means of transportation is misguided to a degree, as many larger vehicles with lower gas mileage actually use less energy from dust to dust. Several outlets have held on to the idea that a Prius does more damage to the environment than a HUMMER, with the CNW study as their sole source. But of course, that study aside, there's a fatal flaw in this reporting: environmental damage and energy are not at all synonymous.

    Lifecycle analysis is nothing new to the auto industry. It's been done internally for decades with cars and all manner of household appliances and electronics. What is new this decade is that a significant portion of shoppers are considering it, spurred by the recent movement toward environmental consumerism, and pop-culture books like 2002's Cradle to Cradle, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, which focuses on the recycling of consumer goods.

    CNW's research was done largely 'under the radar,' using publicly available data along with phone and mail research and on-site analysis of assembly plants. The research included demographics such as how far the vehicle was expected to go in its lifetime and over how many years the vehicle will remain with its initial buyer. Other factors included lifetime maintenance, mechanical repairs, and accident repairs; design and development costs; manufacturing (including energy in employee commuting); administrative support; transportation to retail; dealership operations; and the cost of recycling and disposing of parts and materials.

    HUMMER has, for example, established a new national network of new, standalone Quonset hut, hangar-style dedicated dealership facilities over the past several years, and a completely new assembly plant was built for the assembly of the H2 SUV, which would bring their lifetime cost up significantly.

    After all the numbers had been crunched, among vehicles sold in the U.S. in the 2005 calendar year, CNW found the least expensive vehicle to be the Scion xB at 48 cents per mile in overall energy costs. The most energy-expensive vehicle was the Maybach at $11.58 per mile in energy costs over its estimated lifetime. The VW Phaeton, Rolls-Royce line, and Bentley line followed closely behind. In all of these instances, these are overall energy costs incurred from inception through disposal, not energy costs associated only with vehicle ownership.

    To compare, the Toyota Prius involves $3.25 per mile in energy costs over its lifetime, according to CNW, while several full-size SUVs scored lower. A Dodge Viper involves only $2.18 in energy per mile over its lifetime. The Range Rover Sport costs $2.42, and the Cadillac Escalade costs $2.75.

    "If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy because of family budgets or depleting oil supplies, it is perfectly logical to consider buying high-fuel-economy vehicles, said Art Spinella, president of CNW, in a release. "But if the concern is the broader issues such as environmental impact of energy usage, some high-mileage vehicles actually cost society more than conventional or even larger models over their lifetime.

    The junkyard brawl ensues

    Some of the greater cost of hybrids, according to CNW, is due to the higher cost of recycling hybrids. On an energy basis, the firm says, vehicles cost an energy-equivalent average of $119,000 to recycle, while hybrids average $140,000. But CNW later says that it calculates the Prius's battery as costing $93 in energy to recycle.

    Toyota says that credible scientific research has found that end-of-life recycling and disposal use disproportionately small amounts of energy. Although CNW does say that vehicle recycling accounts for about one-quarter of all the energy used in U.S. recycling, it also says that much of the extra energy cost of hybrids is due to their complexity, which requires more energy through many stages of its life, such as in sourcing materials and making repair.

    "If Toyota can reduce the complexity of building hybrids to a simple 'plug and play' system whereby major hybrid electrics and electronics can be easily detached and disposed of for simplified replacement, the cost would drop dramatically. That is not the case with most hybrids today, however," CNW says.

    Toyota has responded that CNW's study does not include any specific information on its methodology or data sources, and it does not at all agree with the bulk of scientific studies on vehicle lifecycle analysis, many of which conclude that about 85 percent of total lifetime energy use occurs in driving the vehicle. CNW's study shows these ratios approximately reversed.

    In a prepared statement, the automaker says, "Toyota has been doing lifecycle assessment for many years to evaluate various advanced vehicle technology. We…believe that the best way to assess the environmental impact of a vehicle is to do a full evaluation of all the inputs and outputs in every stage of a vehicle life."

    Fueling the controversy

    David Friedman, research director of the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, thinks that CNW's results and apparent methodology bring red flags. "This study has been completely contradicted by studies from MIT, Argonne National Labs and Carnegie Mellon's Lifecycle Assessment Group. The reality is hybrids can significantly cut global warming pollution, reduce energy use, and save drivers thousands at the pump," commented Friedman.

    CNW's figures, for example, show that the Civic Hybrid can cost nearly $165,000 more over its lifetime, "dust to dust," than the standard Civic, which is a difficult figure to swallow, even considering the extra development, materials, and disposal of the Hybrid variant. Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system is a mild hybrid system and many engineers have admired its elegant and simple design and function, considering the efficiency gains.

    The CNW study fuels further controversy by alleging that automakers - specifically mentioning Toyota - don't include the energy that goes into modules that are built by suppliers and then shipped to the assembly plant. But Toyota insists that its methods include all materials and components that go into the vehicle, not only those manufactured internally by the automaker.

    Toyota concedes that there is more energy required in the materials production stage for its hybrids, but says that it is overwhelmingly made up by less energy used during its driving lifetime.

    One other area of the study that some critics have found to be misleading is that CNW only included the so-called design and development cost of models sold so far, not on the potential volume of that technology in the long run.

    In a section that seems to be leading to the dismissal of existing hybrids as having technology with a short shelf life, the study goes on to say that "…many of the hybrid models - such as the Insight and Prius - are early renditions of the technology that are being or soon will be replaced by more efficient and less complicated versions effectively making the current versions obsolete within a few short years."

    In a similar manner, the methodology also looks to take into account how many vehicles have been produced by existing factories so far, not how many vehicles might be produced over the lifetime of the factories, so Toyota and other automakers who have recently established more efficient factories lose out, even though the facilities might be more efficient. The firm also includes the energy importance of where assembly plants are located, in factors such as how far, and how, its employees commute.

    Grasping the 'social energy' of what you drive


    CNW also includes overall "social energy expenditures," which it describes in very little detail except with a coffee analogy, alleging that while most peer-review papers only analyze the energy demands from the grinding of the coffee forward, the firm's report analyzes everything including the "coffee mug maker."

    But if the mug could also just as well be used for tea or hot chocolate, do you still include that cost? As you dig farther up the supply chain, the answers seem to get fuzzier, and without figures or meaty methodology details from CNW it's unclear what kind of assumptions were made. The firm has not responded to our request for comment.

    While its methodology may remain unclear, the report does include some useful and eye-opening information that few car shoppers had likely even thought about. Hopefully this controversy will spur shoppers to demand more information about the vehicles they drive other than emissions and mpg and consider the big-picture impact.

    Prius vs. Hummer - Exploding The Myth
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    Earthling New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Arroyo @ Apr 17 2007, 02:57 AM) [snapback]424499[/snapback]</div>
    Hoo, boy, that's rich. New hybrids are rendering existing hybrids obsolete? The reality is that existing hybrids have rendered all non-hybrids obsolete!

    Harry
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    MarkMN New Member

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    I wish the author of this article elaborated on the biggest obvious flaw in the CNW scam -- the fact that it 'estimates' Hummers and other SUVs to last well over 300,000 miles, while 'estimated' that Prii only last a bit over 100,000 miles. That assumption alone makes the Prius per mile 'cost' relative to SUVs more than three times higher than it otherwise would be if they had equal mileage expectations. Otherwise the above article is well written and points out a lot of the flaws of the trash studys that have been made.
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    nerfer A young senior member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Arroyo @ Apr 17 2007, 01:57 AM) [snapback]424499[/snapback]</div>
    Pretty comprehensive review of these two fallacies. The only two points I would add is:
    1) The Prius and HCH were given lifetimes of 109,000 miles, whereas the large SUVs were all over 250,000 miles. The large SUVs had a higher cost but because of the extra miles, their cost per mile was lower than the leading hybrids. Even if their numbers were correct, but you use 128,000 miles for the life of a Prius, then it would be cheaper/mile than their touted SUVs.
    2) The 2006 follow-up report by CNW (spreadsheet only, no explanations or tables on each step like the 2005 report has) has changed the numbers, perhaps because of increasing volume or better estimate of a hybrid's lifetime? For whatever reason, the SUVs are now more expensive, and the hybrids are cheaper, and CNW now says that the Prius and HCH are cheaper per mile than the large SUVs. However, this report is almost universally ignored.

    One final note - if the CNW report wasn't supposed to target hybrids specifically, why were they in bold-face in every chart and the other cars weren't?
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    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    I think we have a sticky...
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    efusco Troll Slayer

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(tripp @ Apr 17 2007, 11:15 AM) [snapback]424665[/snapback]</div>
    Ok, but it's only been about 3 weeks before we had the thread of complaints of too many stickies which led me to delete a bunch. Kinda hard to have it both ways.
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    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    oh, you're still doped up. What do you know. :D How's your recovery going, Evan? Well I hope. Anyways, this one seems to warrant some attention. Just look at the number of new threads created in the last two weeks. OTOH, perhaps now a new breed of rational, well thought out articles will surface and this whole stupid issue will die the horrible death it deserves.
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    efusco Troll Slayer

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(tripp @ Apr 17 2007, 11:40 AM) [snapback]424679[/snapback]</div>
    Better, still sore with some movement and walking but no real "pain"...no narcotics since Friday.
    If you think that's going to happen perhaps you're the one that's "doped up"! I agree, this is as good of article on the subject as I've seen to warrant a sticky for easy reference when the next 10 inevitable threads on the subject start.
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    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North

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    wow... someone's brave enough to challenge CNW and publish it. Kudos to TCC!
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    San_Carlos_Jeff Active Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(nerfer @ Apr 17 2007, 09:12 AM) [snapback]424663[/snapback]</div>
    I was wondering the same thing so sent a note to the author asking him about this. Here's his response:

    "Thanks -- I certainly did notice this, and it was cut out in the
    interest of space, but I've had the paragraph added back in. Toyota says
    that there's no data to support the average Prius going 109,000 in its
    lifetime.
    -BH"

    Haven't had a chance to look at the article again.

    Jeff
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    RobertG New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(San_Carlos_Jeff @ Apr 17 2007, 12:28 PM) [snapback]424799[/snapback]</div>
    Here's a quote from that article which I just read at The Car Connection web site:
    • But Toyota also says that the study uses an unrealistically low estimated lifetime for hybrids, and that there's no data to support its assumptions in this. For instance, according to the study the average Prius is expected to go 109,000 miles over its lifetime, while a Hummer H1 would go 379,000 miles. CNW says about hybrids: "…these are generally secondary vehicles in a household OR they are driven in restricted or short range environments such as college campuses or retirement neighborhoods."

      "Prius versus HUMMER: Exploding the Myth"
      The Car Connection
    Excuse me while I take a short break to go to the pharmacy and pick up some Metamucil.
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    Stev0 Honorary Hong Kong Cavalier

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(efusco @ Apr 17 2007, 10:18 AM) [snapback]424666[/snapback]</div>
    I was one who said A) We DID have too many stickies (and a good job to Admins here for cleaning it up), and B) This is one topic that SHOULD be a stickie. "You have too many" doesn't mean "You shouldn't have any". So another pat on the back to the Admins for stickifying this, too.
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    MarkMN New Member

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    He added the miles thing back into the article. I am now quite satisfied with the article :) I think I will email it to my local paper who published George Will's (of Wash. Post) anti-environmental opinion peice last Saturday where he suggested that "perhaps it is environmentally responsible to buy one [Hummer] and squash a Prius with it". The conservatives have no shame in throwing the mud of deceit around, I just hope that the mud of facts gets thrown back in their face.
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    Wildkow New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(MarkMN @ Apr 17 2007, 02:32 PM) [snapback]424894[/snapback]</div>
    Here is the column and I don't think that he is advocating crushing Prii with Hummii's. His whole point is about the media trying to indoctrinate listeners into believing Environmental Fuzzy Math, and how enormously expensive it is to impact the actual worldwide climate while the change will be argueably insignificant. He then lists some outrageously farcical steps that have been recommended or should also be considered and one of them happens to be crushing your Prii with a Humii. His conclusion is contained in his last two paragraphs . . .

    We are urged to "think globally and act locally," as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has done with proposals to reduce California's carbon dioxide emissions 25 percent by 2020. If California improbably achieves this, at a cost not yet computed, it will have reduced global greenhouse gas emissions 0.3 percent. The question is:
    Suppose the costs over a decade of trying to achieve a local goal are significant. And suppose the positive impact on the globe's temperature is insignificant -- and much less than, say, the negative impact of one year's increase in the number of vehicles in one country (e.g., India). If so, are people who recommend such things thinking globally but not clearly?



    Wildkow

    p.s. that’s my reading anyway, correct me if I’m wrong.


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...id=opinionsbox1
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    liquidsoapdispenser New Member

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    I constantly fret that anything I do to cut energy use (and cut associated pollutants) is more then canceled out by my neighbors driving huge SUVs to work every day. It's so easy to think, "hey, I'm just one person, it really doesn't matter what I do." Well, I don't want to think that way, and I have to do what seems right, even if I'm just a drop in the bucket.

    Along those lines, how can anyone fault California for trying to do the right thing. Even if the effect could be overshadowed by others, it doesn't make it any less the right thing to do. Hopefully in California's effort to curb emissions, new technologies will be discovered, and an example will be set that others may follow.
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    nerfer A young senior member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Wildkow @ Apr 18 2007, 12:41 AM) [snapback]425153[/snapback]</div>
    But if everybody does it, then together we reduce emissions 25%. That's the growing consensus for a secure future - everybody needs to pitch in. And if you think converting our vehicle base to use less gas and our buildings to use less electricity is going to be expensive, just wait till you go to the pumps in a couple years and gas is $5/gallon and electricity from natural gas generators is 2x or 3x today's rate, and coal surely won't be cheaper.

    But you're probably right in one respect - we won't completely meet our voluntary goals. The only thing that will significantly slow our contributions to GHG will be higher energy prices. But it doesn't mean I can't start now in reducing my contribution. Then I can look at my grandchildren and explain what we knew and what I did with a clear conscience. And by being an example today makes it easier for my co-workers and neighbors to make better decisions in the coming months and years.

    This part of the thread belongs in FHOP or the environmental forum. But the point here is, when all things are considered, the Prius is beneficial for our global economy and environment, compared to large SUVs, despite some well-publicized but deeply flawed reports.
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    thebrattygurl New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(MarkMN @ Apr 17 2007, 11:05 AM) [snapback]424660[/snapback]</div>
    LOL at SUVs lasting even over 100,000 miles. What about all my friends with SUVs whose transmissions went out before 100,000 mi? In addition, my buddy at the Acura dealership told me to dump my SUV before it hit 100,000 miles, as after that I would be paying out the ^*(**( for car repairs. I bet my Prius will last alot longer than 100,000 miles, given that it is a Toyota! ;)
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    cwerdna Senior Member

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    Looks like some moron decided to add the CNW/CCSU garbage to the Wikipedia entry for the Prius at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius.

    "In taking into account the overall energy and production cycle, the total cost and environmental damage to produce a Prius greatly outweighs that of producing a pure ICE vehicle. Over the lifespan of the vehicle, the Prius will cost more to operate than most other vehicles, and cost more energy initially for production of the batteries and other equipment, and to truly be efficient, one would be more effective in purchasing a Toyota Scion xB, which costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to operate, as opposed to the $3.25 of the Prius..."
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    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(cwerdna @ May 12 2007, 04:18 AM) [snapback]440470[/snapback]</div>

    Time to have that deleted from Wiki!

    *edit*

    Looks like it has been corrected to me.

    "In March 2007, an editorial in the Central Connecticut State University Recorder alleged that the total cost and environmental damage to produce a Prius greatly outweighs that of producing a non-hybrid vehicle[34]. According to this editorial, over the lifespan of the vehicle, the Prius will cost more to operate than most other vehicles, and cost more energy initially for production of the batteries and other equipment. To truly be efficient, one would be more effective in purchasing a Toyota Scion xB, which costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to operate, as opposed to the $3.25 of the Prius. This editorial cited a study by CNW Marketing Research, Inc.[35], and was cited by a number of news sources[2]. However, in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, a Toyota Motor Sales vice president refuted the CNW Marketing study[3]. Furthermore, the author of the Recorder article later questioned the authenticity of the CNW numbers on which he had based his original column.[36] The amount of misinformation in the CNW study and CCSU articles lead to a long piece being written at The Car Connection titled Prius vs. Hummer: Exploding the Myth"
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    Stev0 Honorary Hong Kong Cavalier

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