Unraveling the Hummer vs. Prius cost/pollution analysis

The resources needed and pollution created to manufacture a hybrid could be worse than the overall cost of producing and running a non-hybrid
A recent article has been floating around started by CWA marketing detailing how GM’s Hummer only cost about $1.95 per mile to put on the road, while the Prius $3.25 per mile. The idea is that building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that it is on the road for three times longer than a Prius. It’s assumed the Hummer will be around for over 300,000 miles and the Prius 100,000 miles.
Some other things to consider… the nickel in the batteries

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. clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/editorial

Of course you have to figure out emissions and fuel cost. If the Prius uses four times less fuel (and drastically reduced carbon emissions), even if it lasts one third the time, it has less impact from emissions.
And really, how many Hummers are on the road after 300,000 miles, after taking into account accidents and owners just not driving them 300,000 miles. How many Hummers are parked while Prius’ are running a daily commute.
The more you read about this comparison, the more confusing it gets. There are far better ecological choices than the Prius or the Hummer – like walking and riding your bike
It does, however, shed light on the environmental costs to be considered in vehicle production


About Paul Kuehnel

Paul Kuehnel has worked for the York Daily Record/Sunday News since 1984. Follow him on Twitter @paulkuehnel.
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