Free Prius to SUV Owners

OK, this post’s title is a lie… but it’s almost true. (I should go into politics.)

An owner of a large SUV achieving only 15 miles per gallon in mixed driving will consume 10,000 gallons of gasoline over a 150,000 mile vehicle life. (Example: A 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 4WD, 5-spd Automatic, 4.7L 8cyl engine, achieves 15mpg in mixed driving under the newly-revised EPA standards.)

If that SUV owner switched to a high-MPG hybrid achieving 45 miles per gallon, they would consume 3,333 gallons over the same 150,000 mile vehicle life. (Example: A 2007 Toyota Prius achieves 46mpg mixed, revised EPA.)

At $3.25 per gallon, the 6,667 gallons saved over the life of the vehicle would cost over $21,600, which just happens to be around the base price of a Prius — switch today and the car pays for itself. :-)

Now, of course, I do realize that many SUV owners use the vehicle for purposes which cannot be emulated by a mid-size sedan. (Towing, hauling lots of people and gear around, off-road and farm use, etc.)

But, for a person who has found themselves to be primarily a commuter in their large vehicle, and who seldom ferries around more than a couple of extra passengers (a Prius will move 4 people quite comfortably, 5 not-so-comfortably), that person might just want to consider switching, given today’s gas prices.

Bonus: If the SUV is already paid for, it can be kept on-hand for when it is really needed, while the fuel savings for daily driving will still pay for the hybrid.

Fuel for thought.

– Bob R.

45 Comments

45 Responses to Free Prius to SUV Owners

  1. VR
    May 10, 2007 at 8:52 am Link

    You would be better off with a 2008 VW TDI Jetta Wagon. 40mpg city / 60mpg highway. And a wagon with good usability.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2007/05/08/diesel-vw-jetta-sportwagen-a-real-fuel-sipper/

  2. Bob R.
    May 10, 2007 at 9:00 am Link

    VR –

    Well, that will certainly be worth considering if/when it receives a final EPA rating and hits dealer lots.

    – Bob R.

  3. Grant H
    May 10, 2007 at 10:05 am Link

    Or sell the SUV and when one is really needed use a Flexcar SUV or truck.

  4. Erik Halstead
    May 10, 2007 at 11:27 am Link

    …or realize that in Portland we have such an excellent public transit system – who needs a car? Just walk to the nearest TriMet MAX stop and hop on board!

    Only $2.00 per ride, or $74 per month, or $814 per year. Just imagine the savings you’ll realize.

  5. peter
    May 10, 2007 at 12:02 pm Link

    or what about those smart cars? aren’t they supposed to get something like 60 mpg?

  6. Bob R.
    May 10, 2007 at 12:08 pm Link

    or what about those smart cars? aren’t they supposed to get something like 60 mpg?

    Sure… the point isn’t exactly which brand/model of car to buy, but that gas prices have now put us past the threshold where a particularly gas-guzzling vehicle can be replaced by a new gas-sipping vehicle (if it can fit the owner’s usage requirements) for the price difference in gas alone. This was not the case until recently.

    A lot of people might be able to consider making the switch. Everyone knows that gas is more expensive now, but they may not have done the full math yet to evaluate their options.

    – Bob R.

  7. WOBG
    May 10, 2007 at 12:31 pm Link

    If you go with a Prius, just don’t expect any net benefit for the planet. See http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/editorial/print_item.asp?NewsID=188

  8. Anthony
    May 10, 2007 at 12:42 pm Link

    I was reading somewhere that the Prius, as well as other hybrids do more damage to the environment then a typical hummer… such as the strip mined nickel that is abundant in the batteries, as well as their net energy consumption.

    Much like Al Gore and his “carbon credits,” people buy hybrids, especially Priuses, for the “I care about the environment so I am better then you” statement.. but also like Al Gore.. they are all hypocrites.

  9. Bob R.
    May 10, 2007 at 12:46 pm Link

    WOBG –

    The “study” the article references has been widely debunked.

    For starters, see:
    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2006/10/05/oh-so-a-hummer-is-not-greener-a-prius/

    – Bob R.

  10. Bob R.
    May 10, 2007 at 12:53 pm Link

    Anthony: they are all hypocrites.

    Thanks for calling me a hypocrite.

    If you’re actually interested in learning about hybrids rather than trashing people, let me know.

    – Bob R.

  11. jim karlock
    May 10, 2007 at 12:54 pm Link

    Erik Halstead Says: …or realize that in Portland we have such an excellent public transit system – who needs a car? Just walk to the nearest TriMet MAX stop and hop on board!

    Only $2.00 per ride, or $74 per month, or $814 per year. Just imagine the savings you’ll realize.
    JK: Now multiply those numbers by FIVE to get the actual cost – taxpayers pick up 80% of the cost of each Trimet ride.

    Lets see, 5 x $74 = $370. Payments on a $10,000 KIA ~ $175. Left over: $200 for insurance and gas.

    Of course once you have a car, your cost per mile is mostly gas: $3.50per gal / 30 mpg gives $0.12 per mile. That $2.00 fare would take you 17 miles in your car. Driving is often cheaper than trimet fare!

    A variation:
    Drive 1000 mi/month @10mpg = 100 x 3.5 = $350. Buy a KIA and reduce monthly outflow.

    Thanks
    JK

  12. jim karlock
    May 10, 2007 at 12:58 pm Link

    Anthony I was reading somewhere that the Prius, as well as other hybrids do more damage to the environment then a typical hummer… such as the strip mined nickel that is abundant in the batteries, as well as their net energy consumption.
    jk Actually this is pretty funny – someone applied the same phoney crapolla analysis techniques to hybrids that the car haters have been doing to cars for years.

    Thanks
    JK

  13. Bob R.
    May 10, 2007 at 1:08 pm Link

    JK –

    A couple of points:

    Erik was being sarcastic in the comments to which you responded. Erik has frequently criticized aspects of TriMet service, especially in suburban areas.

    Regarding your costs of driving, you left out wear & tear, routine maintenance (oil changes, tires, brakes), and insurance.

    If you’re going to include all the subsidies which go to transit (and there are quite a few, I admit), you need to include all the subsidies that go to automobiles in your comparison as well.

    Oh, and you’re wrong about TriMet subsidies… it’s not multiple of five, it’s a multiple of four. The fare recovery ratio in FY2006 rose to 24.9% thanks in part to the fare increases.

    – Bob R.

  14. WOBG
    May 10, 2007 at 2:07 pm Link

    Debunked, Bob R? Sure, the Hummer thing is hyperbole–but if you can go with a Jetta TDI (or whatever) that sips fuel like a Prius but doesn’t carry the planet-damage baggage of big ol’ nickel batteries–why not?

    Your main point is well taken though: Gas prices are such that SUV drivers may be able to get a fuel-sipper effectively for free.

  15. jim karlock
    May 10, 2007 at 2:14 pm Link

    Bob R. A couple of points:

    Erik was being sarcastic in the comments to which you responded. Erik has frequently criticized aspects of TriMet service, especially in suburban areas.
    JK: Sorry..

    Bob R. Regarding your costs of driving, you left out wear & tear, routine maintenance (oil changes, tires, brakes), and insurance.
    JK: Yeah, but they really aren’t much compared to gas and depreciation. Should I add a penny or two? It is still well below Trimet.

    Bob R. If you’re going to include all the subsidies which go to transit (and there are quite a few, I admit), you need to include all the subsidies that go to automobiles in your comparison as well.
    JK: Remember that the gas price includes the taxes that pay for almost all road costs. Unlike transit fuel, which apparently, is not even taxed to pay for the busses tearing up roads. If we want to talk of foreign oil and all that, we need to recognize that buses actually use more energy than small cars and hence use more foreign oil per passenger-mile.

    Bob R. Oh, and you’re wrong about TriMet subsidies… it’s not multiple of five, it’s a multiple of four. The fare recovery ratio in FY2006 rose to 24.9% thanks in part to the fare increases.
    JK: How much was tha fare increase – that is a big jump. Also it appears that TriMet forgot to tell the “Tax Supervising & Conservation Commission” (co.multnomah.or.us/orgs/tscc/). They list fares as 15% of 2006-07 Revenues on the pie chart on page 101 of the 2006-07 annual report.

    Thanks
    JK

  16. Bob R.
    May 10, 2007 at 2:36 pm Link

    Should I add a penny or two?

    If insurance costs you $100 bucks a month (costs vary widely depending on the history and demographics of the driver and the model of car, or course), and you drive 1,000 miles per month, then you are paying 10 pennies per mile for insurance.

    How much was tha fare increase

    The price of a single all-zone ticket has gone up about 45-50 cents in the past 5 years, literally by multiple “nickel and dime” steps.

    The link/domain you provided for the pie chart currently times out for me… I’ll try it again later.

    we need to recognize that buses actually use more energy than small cars

    Not generally true for the Portland area, and especially untrue when you include light rail and streetcar in the mix.

    Furthermore, because buses are generally going to be running anyway to serve (without a major shift in public opinion and public policy), every additional trip taken by a transit rider does not carry a high incremental burden, especially at off-peak hours and especially if it replaces a trip which would otherwise have been taken by car.

    But we’ve been over that many, many times before.

    – Bob R.

  17. Wells
    May 10, 2007 at 4:16 pm Link

    Thanks, Bob, for the link to a site where the false claims against the Prius are debunked. It’s a certainty that (plug-in) hybrid vehicle technology is a revolutionary breakthrough, thus the opposition.

    Such hybrids create a desirable affect upon transportation systems overall, as their affect upon land-use and development patterns enable means of travel other than motorcars. Walking, bicycling and mass transit are all more energy efficient than even the most efficient car, and they’re vital to the development of low-cost local and regional economies. The plug-in hybrid ultimately becomes the car that need not be driven.

    Their batteries: provide an energy source that will prove invaluable in an emergency or grid failure; provide a means to measure household electricity consumption; form a perfect technological match with photovoltiac solar panel systems; do double-duty in such household systems when their automotive use wears down.

    Carefully placed on a vehicle frame, battery weight lowers center-of-gravity, improving stability, handling and safety. Such hybrids have a number of fundamental safety features that cannot be matched in a standard drivetrain.

    Hybrid technology is a serious problem for those who wish to destroy the planet so Jesus will come back and wisk them away with his magic Jesus wand to a heavenly abode on one of Jupiter’s moons where Jupiterian lions lay down with Neptunian lambs.

  18. Terry Parker
    May 10, 2007 at 5:45 pm Link

    “If the SUV is already paid for, it can be kept on-hand for when it is really needed, while the fuel savings for daily driving will still pay for the hybrid.”

    Not necessarily true. Adding another vehicle als0 requires additional insurance, something bicyclists get away without having but should. There are also maintenance costs that would apply to both vehicles. Storing a newer vehicle that is used infrequently also requires a trickle charger to keep the battery charged because of security systems, clocks and other features that are always running. Disconnecting the battery for extended periods can lead to possible expensive repairs, or resetting some of the computerized systems on the vehicle. Then there is a need for a place to store it, and that should not be on the street. Furthermore, the storage of the infrequently used vehicle should not force the other vehicle to always be parked on the street.

    I also find it somewhat bias that you only target SUVs. Most full sized pickups get approximately the same MPG as large SUVs. The big difference between the two is that SUVs are often used like pickups to haul goods and cargo, but pickups, unless they are of the long extended variety with crew cabs are usually not used like SUVs to haul passengers. The Sport Utility Vehicle is far more versatile.

    Also left out of the discussion is the big full sized Lincoln Governor Kulongoski motors around the state in, often accompanied by a full sized SUV. If there is an example to be set, it should start at the top. The Governor may be carry some baggage, but probable not a lot of cargo that would require the big vehicles.

    You also identified the Toyota Prius for your comparison. Well the Toyota Prius, even if assembled in America, is still a foreign car with the profits made on them going overseas. With all the rant about supporting local businesses, buy Oregon, etc, at the very least American made products manufactured by American companies that provide family wage American jobs and keep the profits in this country should be a priority. This is especially true when purchasing a big ticket item like a new car.

    Finally, what I have discovered a number of people are doing is parking their deluxe big rigs and buying a cheap old compact beater vehicle to commute in. This is the least expensive option for drivers, especially if there is a year or more left on the license tags so the vehicle does not have to go through DEQ. The up front costs of putting an older higher emissions vehicle back on the road is about one twentieth or less of a new (and for the most part overpriced) hybrid, the gas mileage is respectable, the only insurance needed is liability, and if the vehicle breaks down or something goes terribly wrong, it can be sold and another one purchased.

  19. Bob R.
    May 10, 2007 at 6:01 pm Link

    Terry –

    No need to get so hyped up… All my post did was suggest alternatives for people to consider. I did not “target” SUVs… in fact I went out of my way to point out that in many cases people may need them.

    Yes, buying an old beater car for commuting has always been an option. But if you’d prefer to drive around in something with a warranty, an automatic, high MPG, low emissions, and enough room for a few extras, hybrids are worth considering among other options.

    As for parking/storage of a gas-guzzler, my van sits for 1-3 weeks at a time, has a computer-controlled engine, and does not drain the battery below acceptable levels. You really don’t have to do much to store a vehicle as long as it won’t be left alone more than a month.

    And finally, the Buy American argument. I only purchased American cars (including a Plymouth made in Mexico) for over 20 years. At the time we bought our Prius, no American car company was making anything remotely similar. Now GM has a few “mild” hybrid systems worth a look, and they are coming out with a more sophisticated system next year. Ford has a hybrid small SUV with a similar drivetrain concept to the Prius (Ford and Toyota have a hybrid technology cross-licensing agreement), but no sedans.

    In another 150,000 miles or so, when we’re in the market again (or if we decide to trade sooner), I’ll certainly consider American cars again with an open mind. We would have opted for an EV1 if GM hadn’t stopped making them and crushed nearly all the ones they did make.

    – Bob R.

  20. Bob R.
    May 10, 2007 at 6:24 pm Link

    Adding another vehicle als0 requires additional insurance,

    As you so handily pointed out, Terry, some vehicles can get by with Liability Only. I did qualify my original remarks about keeping the SUV as a 2nd vehicle by stating “already paid for”.

    Multi-line discounts, especially when insuring your house along with multiple vehicles, combined with discounts for low annual miles driven, make insuring a 2nd occasional-use vehicle more tolerable.

    something bicyclists get away without having but should.

    I commend you for trying to make a discussion about gasoline prices and car buying into one about bicycles and bicyclists. Kudos.

    However, separate bicycle-only policies do not appear to even be offered inside the USA… you cannot blame bicyclists for not having what they cannot buy. I did find two companies offering them in the UK.

    That being said, please consider:

    A. Bicycles do far less damage to people and property in an accident than do cars.
    B. Bicycles are covered as personal property under many homeowners and renters insurance policies.
    C. Injuries and damaged caused to persons and property while operating a bicycle may be covered by the Personal Liability and Damage to Property of Others clauses of many homeowners insurance policies.

    – Bob R.

  21. nick
    May 10, 2007 at 9:58 pm Link

    For the cost of owning, insuring, and operating almost any car for a year, you could buy a *really nice* bicycle.

    Half a year, even.

  22. WOBG
    May 11, 2007 at 12:12 am Link

    Wells,

    By my quick calcs in the same vein as Bob R’s, the extra gas savings (at 100 mpg) wouldn’t offset the cost ($10K) of converting a Prius to a plug-in hybrid. So the headline would have to be something like “$3,500 Prius to SUV owners.”

    But yeah, if a person were to lay out the cash to go plug-in, then take care to plug in to “clean” electric, that certainly would be green.

  23. Bob R.
    May 11, 2007 at 12:23 am Link

    That reminds me…

    We did go see a genuine, operable plug-in Prius that the CalCars.org group showed off on a swing through Portland this past weekend. It was a newer conversion with lithium ion batteries.

    The company parking lot on Barbur where the plug-in was shown off also featured several all-electric pickups used as fleet vehicles.

    – Bob R.

  24. Wells
    May 11, 2007 at 9:35 am Link

    I’m beginning to wonder why I bother posting my viewpoint here. The ‘big picture’ of future vehicle technology should look improved over what we have today. The plug-in hybrid’s many phenomenal benefits and advantages will appeal to those few who can think beyond the immediate moment. Ugh, food. Ugh, water. Ugh, car. Ugh, shoulder-fired missle, get oil for car. Ugh. Work, pay bank money for car. Ugh.

  25. jim karlock
    May 11, 2007 at 1:23 pm Link

    Bob R.
    (Quoting JK) we need to recognize that buses actually use more energy than small cars

    (Bob:) Not generally true for the Portland area, and especially untrue when you include light rail and streetcar in the mix.
    JK:
    KIA Rio: ……….3,005 BTU/ pass-mi
    TriMEtBus:…….3,792 BTU/ pass-mi
    My statement proven. (I mentioned nothing about toy trains, that is your red-herring, but MAX is about 2500 BTU BEFORE counting the very high construction costs and transmission losses and the total system mix.) It still appears that transit does not save energy. Does not save money. And certainly does not save time.

    Bob R. Furthermore, because buses are generally going to be running anyway to serve (without a major shift in public opinion and public policy), every additional trip taken by a transit rider does not carry a high incremental burden,
    JK: Your fallacy is that as soon a just a few people make the switch, then they have to add a bus and you are back to the starting point.

    BTW the link does work: (co.multnomah.or.us/orgs/tscc/) I assumed that you were knowledgeable to add the www. which I removed to get past the spam filter.

    Thanks
    JK

  26. Ed
    May 11, 2007 at 2:08 pm Link

    jim: your rants against transit are really disappointing and frustrating. you do realize that there are people who can’t afford cars let alone maintain them. Think of the students that attend PSU, sure not all of them take TriMet but the majority of them don’t like to waste their time looking for a parking space. Not to mention the fact that many of them have tight budgets. Transit helps the disabled and the elderly get around, even if it doesn’t go everywhere. I encourage you to think about those people more.

  27. Bob R.
    May 11, 2007 at 2:21 pm Link

    JK, you call my inclusion of light rail in this debate a “red herring”, but when evaluating transit performance in Portland it is necessary to look at the system, not just buses. This is not a “red herring”, just a thorough approach.

    Regarding the link which “does work”, you yet again posted a broken link. Adding “www.” to broken links that you post is not something I should be expected to do, especially to what already is a 4-level domain. In case you didn’t know, “www.” is neither required nor redundant for URLs.

    Your fallacy is that as soon a just a few people make the switch, then they have to add a bus and you are back to the starting point.

    Nope, because only the full-load portions of the network need more vehicles while the under-performing portions of the network (the ones which have the highest consumption per passenger mile) see the greatest reduction in per-passenger consumption without adding vehicles.

    KIA Rio: ……….3,005 BTU/ pass-mi TriMEtBus:…….3,792 BTU/ pass-mi My statement proven.

    EPA Mileage, revised city cycle, for 2007 Kia Rio
    Manual (5 speed), 4 Cylinders, 1.6 Liters, Regular Gasoline: 27mpg.
    Average BTU per gallon of gasoline (DOE figures): 115,000 BTU.
    Average vehicle occupancy in Portland area: 1.27 (ODOT figures).
    Kia Rio BTU-per-passenger-mile: 3,353

    According to the May 24th (2006) TriMet press release regarding fuel prices, the agency consumes approx. 6.5 million gallons of Diesel fuel annually. (What portion of that is dedicated to LIFT service is not stated.)

    According to their 2006 ridership data, TriMet provided 236,736,000 passenger-miles of bus service (excluding LIFT).

    That works out to a fleet average of at least 36.4 passenger-miles per gallon.

    Average BTU per gallon of diesel (DOE figures): 130,500 BTU.
    TriMet Bus BTUs per passenger-mile (calculated from above): 3,585.
    TriMet MAX BTUs per passenger-mile (your figure): 2,500.
    Adjusted for average US transmission losses of 7.2% (Wikipedia – got a local figure?): 2,680

    Average TriMet system BTUs per passenger-mile: 3,206, about 4-5% more efficient that your touted Kia Rio.

    Furthermore, transit trips to transit-oriented destinations eliminate further trips: When people walk to lunch or light shopping, they are not initiating new passenger-miles or new BTU consumption.

    You’re welcome,
    Bob R.

  28. zilfondel
    May 11, 2007 at 3:32 pm Link

    I’m going with the new Honda Fit, personally. 5-door hatch, made by Honda so it should last ~35 years before a tuneup, seats 5, and gets around 40 mpg. It also only weighs 2,400 lbs, which is fairly low compared to other cars – yet a lot heavier than my old 86 honda civic, which was sub-2000 lbs.

    Price: $13,850

  29. Matthew
    May 11, 2007 at 3:48 pm Link

    The 1.27 average passenger occupancy figure doesn’t really deserve a place in those calculations.

    First of all, it includes things like vanpools, which everyone knows are more efficient than buses because they are always full, (including TriMet, who gives people vans in support of vanpools.) The number also includes buses, which almost always have more than 1 person in them, so it brings the average up.

    But more importantly, many of the trips taken that involve multiple people aren’t trips that are as well served by transit as the the ones that are driven alone. For instance 2005 ACS [census] data* says that 726,059 people drove alone to work in the Portland MSA, and 110,796 carpooled. Even if we assume that all 110,796 people carpooled in the SAME car, (instead of in about 50,000 cars, which is more likely,) that means that 836,855 people got to work in 726,060 cars, for an average occupancy of 1.15… Those are commute trips, the trips that are best served by transit…

    If you are, say, going to a club on a date, and expect to be out until 2am, those are trips that are not served by transit anyways, and most people on dates tend to not be going by themselves, i.e. more than 1 person in the car… (Also, many people tend to drink, and then get in accidents in higher rates, and then raise the average number of people per vehicles of cars involved in accidents, which is what the 1.27 number came from anyways.)

    In any case, what most people are trying to do is get people out of their SOVs and onto carpools, bicycles, or mass transit. Nobody, (that I know of,) is actually trying to get people out of carpools and onto buses.

    *Look Jim, you can post a link complete with http in it, and it doesn’t get taken out by the spam filter!

  30. paul
    May 14, 2007 at 12:36 am Link

    I’m so glad for this post–I was going to ask Chris to put something up about alternative fuel vehicles. And thanks for the Fit info, that might be an option for my teenager soon to be college student.

    What are the options for someone who needs family / van type seating? And I do mean family–we routinely take 6 in a car (4 children) so a five seater just won’t work for us. Nor does public transport work in most situations.

    Are there hybrids on the market with > 5 seats that improve on my Town and Country’s current approx. 20 mpg in city driving?

  31. Bob R.
    May 14, 2007 at 10:16 am Link

    Are there hybrids on the market with > 5 seats that improve on my Town and Country’s current approx. 20 mpg in city driving?

    There are only a few options currently available, but when GM finally releases their “dual mode” hybrid system next year, the world will get a chance to see whether or not they’ve come up with the right hybrid system for larger vehicles.

    One current vehicle to consider would be the Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV. It has a fold-flat 3rd row seat, although I don’t know how the interior room would compare to your Town & Country overall, and the hybrid performance is balanced more toward acceleration than it is toward fuel economy.

    Under the newly-revised EPA ratings, they HiHy gets: 28 city, 25 highway, 26 combined (2WD); 27 city, 25 hwy, 26 combined (4WD). The HiHy is already a bit pricey (low to mid $30’s), so I won’t discuss its Lexus sibling.

    There are also the Ford Escape hybrid and the Saturn Vue Green Line (mild) hybrid, but they are only 5-passenger so wouldn’t meet your current needs.

    Toyota does have a true hybrid minivan available in Japan, but they have yet to announce any plans for hybrid minivans in the US.

    – Bob R.

  32. jim karlock
    May 14, 2007 at 12:16 pm Link

    Bob R. Average TriMet system BTUs per passenger-mile: 3,206, about 4-5% more efficient that your touted Kia Rio.
    JK: 5% is to small to count. In the real world such differences tend to disappear. You have verified my claim that transit does NOT save (significant) energy.

    Bob R. Furthermore, transit trips to transit-oriented destinations eliminate further trips: When people walk to lunch or light shopping, they are not initiating new passenger-miles or new BTU consumption.
    JK: Has anyone shown this to be true, except at the greater than New York Central city densities in the three densest data points in the Dunphy and Fisher paper?

    Thanks
    JK

  33. Bob R.
    May 14, 2007 at 12:40 pm Link

    You have verified my claim that transit does NOT save (significant) energy.

    Your original claim did not include the word “significant” and made a comparison to a vehicle type which is not typical of the automobile fleet average. In fact, you never used the word “significant” in this discussion until just now. You made an absolutist claim, and it was incorrect.

    You make the assumption, which you have never documented in any way, that if we stopped investing in transit in this area that all those riders would suddenly drive vehicles with the gas mileage of a Kia Rio or better, would do so at the same or better passenger occupancy, and would achieve a better energy savings than transit for the same trips.

    – Bob R.

  34. Hawthorne
    May 14, 2007 at 8:42 pm Link

    JK: Has anyone shown this to be true, except at the greater than New York Central city densities in the three densest data points in the Dunphy and Fisher paper?

    Yes, I have shown this to be true. I work downtown and loads of people in my building do this every day- even the ones who drive to work…they walk, take MAX, the Streetcar to get to lunch or other appointments. Hang out downtown for a bit and you will see this as well- loads of people pouring out of buildings onto the streets at lunch, only a few cars. On the other hand go to a work environment where you don’t have this kind of easy access and you will see the reverse.

  35. Terry Parker
    May 17, 2007 at 5:10 pm Link

    There was an interesting report on KATU Channel 2 news last night. It compared a Hummer (H3) to a Toyota Prius. The research by an independent company http://cnwmr.com concluded the following:

    The nickel mined in Canada for the batteries of the Prius is harmful to the environment and contributes to acid rain. The nickel is shipped to China where the batteries are made in smokestack industries. The batteries are then shipped to where the cars were built to be installed. Cars built in Japan then must be shipped to America. All the shipping and the fuel/energy used to do the shipping is also considered as a negative impact to the environment. Although the Prius obtained better gas mileage, the Hummer is built in America holding down the shipping costs and the fuel/energy used to transport the vehicle. Furthermore, the Hummer was projected to last twice as long mileage wise as the Prius. The conclusion (double checked) was the Hummer costs less to own over the life of the vehicle, and was less harmful to the environment than the Prius.

    It is sort of like the paper vs plastic bag choice at the grocery store. From my prospective, the Prius is still a foreign car that supports foreign jobs rather than American jobs. Unless no diverse market choice exists, I see no difference between buying a foreign car or buying foreign oil, or even foreign a bicycle. Unfortunately with electronics, almost all of them are made overseas no matter what brand is on the nameplate. So rather than just to save a few drops of gasoline (Northwest gasoline comes from Alaska oil which is refined in Puget Sound refineries) on a foreign product that has a shorter than normal lifespan, sticking with a proven American product that better fits the needs of the owner and that does not come from overseas may be a better choice.

  36. Hawthorne
    May 17, 2007 at 5:29 pm Link

    Terry,

    The only interesting thing about this report is that it ISN”T TRUE. It also is very far from new. Funny, how we are attracted to the counterintuitive- especially when it fits our worldview.

    See the post at the Mercury where they sum up the issues http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/2007/05/katu_loves_hummers.php

  37. Bob R.
    May 17, 2007 at 6:26 pm Link

    Terry –

    The Hummer myth was already brought up in this discussion back on May 10th. In addition to the Portland Mercury link that Hawthorne just gave you, I suggest you check out:

    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2006/10/05/oh-so-a-hummer-is-not-greener-a-prius/

    One of the things I find quite interesting about the report is that it supposedly includes all the energy used to build the factory that makes the cars, as well as all the R&D work to develop the car, and then divides that energy across all cars sold. Well, guess what, the more cars Toyota sells, the more that initial development energy gets spread around and its significance decreases.

    Even JK had this to express about the topic: “… phoney crapolla analysis techniques …”

    – Bob R.

  38. Terry Parker
    May 17, 2007 at 9:47 pm Link

    The one item I failed to mention about the Hummer vs Prius report was the potential environmental harm and expense of recycling the hybrid’s nickel batteries.

    The thing I also find interesting is how non-believers are so quick to say something is not true and attempt to discredit the authors of any report that does not fit into their agenda while clinging to and reciting the reports they do agree with. Wake up to the truth, global warming is a natural occurrence that has been taking place since the melting of the ice age. As proof, there were no Hummers or even Hybrids around when the ice melted and the global warming started. Man is only a small contributor to climate change.

  39. Bob R.
    May 17, 2007 at 11:07 pm Link

    The thing I also find interesting is how non-believers are so quick to say something is not true and attempt to discredit the authors of any report that does not fit into their agenda while clinging to and reciting the reports they do agree with.

    Terry –

    The supposed “study” has been out for more than a year but keeps getting flogged to various media outlets with no new info and no opportunity for peer review.

    To put it another way, the standards of scientific accuracy and public disclosure for this “Prius vs. Hummer” business are well below the standards that you have demanded of our public agencies.

    – Bob R.

  40. Matthew
    May 17, 2007 at 11:46 pm Link

    “The thing I also find interesting is how non-believers are so quick to say something is not true and attempt to discredit the authors of any report that does not fit into their agenda while clinging to and reciting the reports they do agree with.”

    I think that is interesting too. Like your post on Al Gore.

    But, that study fails the sniff test. The study says that 80% energy used by an average car is used in it’s construction, so only 20% is used in driving it. However, in the US, 25% of energy is used for personal transportation, leaving only 75% for building cars. Even if there were no other industries in the US besides cars, we’d have to import a bunch of cars just to break even. (And it takes more energy to ship a car from Detroit by train than it does from Japan by ship.)

    But the thing I find interesting about this story: I have a friend that works for Ford, and about 1% of their parts arrive at the factory via cargo helicopter. Sometimes they run out of a part and so they have to shut down the line, and the traffic in Detroit is so bad and the line so expensive to run, that the helicopter is a good investment. Certain places in the building even have holes in the ceiling so that they can lower the parts directly into the assembly line from the helicopter. Now, I don’t know how much fuel a cargo helicopter uses, but I do know they cost ~$1000/hr a few years ago, and most of that money was for the fuel… He said that GM does this too, but he said that Honda and Toyota, even in their US plants, don’t, they just have a big warehouse of spare parts in their factories and a few extra people to do inventory.

  41. Dan
    May 18, 2007 at 1:51 pm Link

    “Wake up to the truth, global warming is a natural occurrence that has been taking place since the melting of the ice age. As proof, there were no Hummers or even Hybrids around when the ice melted and the global warming started. Man is only a small contributor to climate change”

    This is a standard, purposefully misleading, talking point that omits key facts to support an ideological platform. It was popularly used at one time by the Denialists, but that viewpoint, except for a remaining few, has mostly gone the way of the dinosaur, so I’m quite surprised to this claim trotted out here.

    Anyways Terry, of course global warming is a natural occurrence. Who debates that? Global warming cycles have been occurring for billions of years. However the statement saying that global warming has been taking place since the “melting of the ice age” is not really correct and ultimately misleading.

    #1) You’re using the wrong terms. There have been 4 major ice ages in earth’s history. During ice ages there are cyclical periods that are termed interglacial (warmer) and glacial (colder). Technically speaking we are still in an ice age (as there are still polar ice caps) which began 40 million years ago.

    #2) Approximately 3 million years ago the earth entered a cycle of relatively consistent warming and cooling periods. Each cycle lasts between 40K and 100K years. We are currently in an interglacial (warming) period of this natural cycle. So yes, global warming is a natural occurrence as you so astutely state.

    However, the key difference, which you omit, is that this current warming period is not even remotely similar to past 3 million years of global warming/cooling, or for that matter any warming/cooling cycle ever observed. In the 20th century, the average global temperature rose approximately 1.5 degrees F. In EVERY SINGLE previous cycle of warming/cooling in the past 3 million years, raising the average temperature of the earth by that amount took THOUSANDS of years, yet somehow the earth accomplished this recent warming milestone in LESS THAN one century.

    Global warming is a natural process when conducted on a geological timeframe, but at this speed? The answer is undeniably and impossibly No.

  42. Bob R.
    June 4, 2007 at 10:15 am Link

    An update to this thread…

    A think tank called the Pacific Institute has issued a pretty thorough debunking of the CNW “Prius vs. Hummer” claims, at least as thorough as can be done considering that CNW refused to release their data and methods for peer review:

    http://www.pacinst.org/topics/integrity_of_science/case_studies/hummer_vs_prius.pdf

    – Bob R.

  43. Bob R.
    July 13, 2007 at 1:33 pm Link

    Another update:

    A current-generation Prius has just reached the 400,000km (~250,000 mile) mark in continuous use as a taxicab in Vancouver, BC. It is now the highest-mileage Prius of this kind.

    The Prius taxi required only standard maintenance (costing 1/3 less than the maintenance of a conventional taxi) and used 2/3 less fuel. None of the hybrid system components, including the battery, have been replaced. This speaks well for long-term reliability.

    (It also shows that CNW’s “research” assumptions about hybrid car longevity are seriously flawed.)

    See:
    Cab Driver Passes 400,000km Mark in Prius

    – Bob R.

  44. Father
    May 20, 2008 at 7:59 pm Link

    If it was realy about the environment, you would not get a prius (which has hundreds of pounds of acid batteries to have to recycle) but would purcahse a salvaged vehicle, repair it, and in one action, perform more useful recycling then a lifetime of recycling cans.

    CNW’s “research” by the way, if you read their report, is based on manufacture estimates. there is more then one million mile chevy truck or Saab out there, it doesn’t mean the normal person’s estimated lifespan of a car is worng, just there is a freak or two out there that make it way longer then normal.

    But then again, the number one reason to buy a prius is because it “makes a statement”, much like bell bottom jeans.

    because if it was realy about the environment, you would pick up a used (never new) TDI, which doesn’t have hundreds of pounds of batteries to reyccle.

  45. Matthew
    May 20, 2008 at 11:39 pm Link

    The Prius battery is NiMH, and 118 lbs, not “hundreds of pounds of acid.” And if you really really care about the environment, you’ll skip the car altogether and walk or ride a bicycle.

    And isn’t making a statement the entire reason most people buy hummers, SUVs, sports cars, and pretty much every other car every made as well?

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