Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Prius More Environmentally Damaging Than Hummer?

  1. Apr 9, 2007 #1
    Found this link that states the Toyota Prius Hybrid is actually more damaging to the environment than the hummer. I found it interesting, but I do not know how credible it is.

    http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/edit....asp?NewsID=188
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2007 #2
    I think I read this on slashdot a while back, and I recall there being something about the way they chose data for the Hummer was way off and that screwed up the results.
     
  4. Apr 9, 2007 #3
    I've read that article before. That news paper is a joke. It is the same paper that published an article entitled "Rape only hurts if you fight it". I believe the reason the paper claims that the prius is horrible for the environment is because of the nickel that is used in the engine and that the factory where the nickel comes from has destroyed the ecosystem around it. While the fact that the nickel factory may have destroyed the ecosystem around it might be true, Toyota isn't the sole customer of the factory where the nickel is produced. Nickel is an important component for alloys and stuff like stainless steel so Toyota isn't the only place buying nickel from the factory.

    I also remember the article claiming that the prius will get lower gas mileage because of the new EPA rating system. That is also true, but the article then compares its mileage to the Chevy Aveo and claims that they now get almost the same mileage. HELLO!!! The new rating system is now across the entire board, the AVEO won't get close to 45 mpg with the new system, so the Prius will still get more mileage than almost every car out there.

    The article was poorly written and has no source citations for its claims. Toyota should sue the crap out of that news paper for libel.
     
  5. Apr 9, 2007 #4

    Gokul43201

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  6. Apr 9, 2007 #5

    JasonRox

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    No, but the article has a good point. So many people think they're energy efficient without even thinking about where the stuff actually comes from.

    Ever thought about how much energy goes into making one bottle of water? No one ever thinks of the bottle of water as energy.
     
  7. Apr 9, 2007 #6
    I think it is fairly safe to say that yes a Prius is more energy efficient than the Hummer, that much is common sense however it does take more energy to produce that Prius. Either way I don't think the point is to go out and buy a hummer, at the end of the article it does say that perhaps in the long run it is a better idea to just get the smaller economical car like an Aveo (god those things are ugly) and forget the hybrid (which seem to be equally ugly).

    I'm not sure where they are getting the stats saying that the prius will only last 100 000 miles, doesn't the battery have a 6 year warranty or something? I would think that would indicate that Toyota is expecting the car to last longer than 100 000. Either way it would be interesting to know how they actually did do this test because it would be fairly easy for them to skew results if they don't publicize the details of the test....which I would imagine is exactly what happened.

    Personally I just wish all the so called economical cars weren't so darn ugly maybe if they looked half decent people would buy them. I know if I am spending the money of a new car it had better end up getting me something I actually like rather than some car with no space that is shaped like a bubble.
     
  8. Apr 9, 2007 #7

    Gokul43201

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Do not read that article - the writer has lied about some of the data. If you are interested in the info here, you'd be better off if you read the original CNW report itself.

    According to the report, however, the lifetime of the Hummer (the H3, which the article is talking about) is 207,000 miles.*

    * See p. 24 here: http://cnwmr.com/nss-folder/automotiveenergy/DUST PDF VERSION.pdf
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  9. Apr 9, 2007 #8
    Thanks for the link Gokul, I'm reading through it right now.
     
  10. Apr 9, 2007 #9

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I had to try to explain to a student of mine why it was absurd for me to consider junking my 1993 Volvo and buying a hybid. My commute is a 10 minute, 5 mile drive--four days a week (I run once a week). Despite the fact that I can't afford one, this student couldn't get past the simplistic "but it's more efficient"!

    I still think:

    NUTHIN DUMMER
    than a
    HUMMER
     
  11. Apr 9, 2007 #10
    I wholeheartedly agree with you on this. I drive a Jeep and yes it isn't the best on gas, and if I was driving any large distances I would probably sell it in favor of a small car. But as it is I rarely drive, I walk or bike whenever I can which in the city I usually am able to do. It just isn't worth spending a ton more money for some hybrid car (that i can't afford anyway) when I hardly drive in the first place.

    True, even if you take away the fact that they are gas guzzling pigs that are a bear to drive around town and will quickly put you in the poor house there is the fact that they are just poorly made vehicles in general. I worked at a Dodge dealership over the summer and they were always getting in H2s and H3s and I spent a lot of time driving them to different lots around the city. They are not good quality vehicles, I could pick out problems with every one. Of course I am only talking about the ones they make to sell to average Joe I would hope the military versions are a bit more robust :tongue:
     
  12. Apr 9, 2007 #11

    ShawnD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Ha I agree completely. At least Honda and Toyota (and I think Ford) are making an effort by making their normal cars into hybrids. The Honda Civic Hybrid looks just like a normal Civic except for the antenna, a hybrid Toyota Camry looks like a normal Camry, and I think Ford has some kind of hybrid SUV that looks like a normal SUV.

    If I didn't know better, I would think companies try to make their efficient cars as ugly as possible. Smart Fortwo? Toyota Echo? My god! If they made an economy car look like a BMW, it would probably sell very well even if it performed like a dog.

    I can understand where Chi is coming from with his beater car. I had a 92 Ford Tempo that got about 10km/L (like mpg, but metric), and last year I purchased a Honda Civic that gets about 13km/L (these are city numbers). At the time of purchase, my projected yearly gasoline cost was about $3000 for the Ford (driving something like 150km per day and then some). $3000 * 10 / 13 = ~$2300. That means I the new car saves $700 per year on gas.. and at a cost of $24,000 to drive it off the lot it would take 35 years to break even, if the reason for buying the car was gas alone. Obviously that's not why I bought a new car, but some people can honestly justify buying a hybrid just to save on gas. If I got the hybrid civic, it would cost something like $4,000 more and it would probably still take 35 years to get a return on my gasoline investment.

    Edit: to clarify, yes I will buy a hybrid in the future. Historically car companies have used efficiency as a way of increasing horsepower (cars of today are way faster than the cars of 20 years ago), so this hybrid trend will probably lead to some pretty impressive high performance vehicles.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  13. Apr 9, 2007 #12
    Yeah Ford has brought out the Escape as a Hybrid, it is comparable to a Jeep Liberty in size. I wasn't a huge fan of the previous style escape but I am quite the fan of the body style they have brought out for '08.

    I think once hybrid manufacturers come to the realization that consumers will not shell out insane amounts of money for a vehicle that looks like it got whacked with the ugly stick and start making good looking cars they will find their sales go way up. Good looks, functionality, and economy.....doesn't take a genius to figure out that would probably be a winning combination. I just hate the bubbles they are passing off as cars.....and as if its not bad enough that they look like bubbles they also look like cheap plastic bubbles.
     
  14. Apr 9, 2007 #13
    If I remember correctly, they assume that a Prius has a lifetime of 100,000 miles, while the Hummer has one of 300,000 miles. Given that very few Priuses have even died (the oldest ones are averaging 150,000 miles), and Toyota makes no such claim that their expected lifetime is 100,000 miles, lord only knows where the figure came from. I bet that if we look really deep, we'll find that the study is funded by GM.

    Scorpa, I do agree that the current crop of hybrids looks pretty bad. Also, IMO, they don't drive that well, either. My father owns a Prius, and whenever I drive it, I feel like I'm driving a boat. It handles just fine, but it's too big. I want a hybrid like my 2002 Ford ZX2 (Escort): small, peppy, and easy to maneuver.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  15. Apr 9, 2007 #14

    ShawnD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hybrids small cars probably won't catch on simply because the cost of the hybrid system is very expensive, while the price difference between a small car and a big car is not so expensive. That probably made no sense so let me give an example, 3 cars with 3 numbers tied to them, not including taxes or delivery:
    Honda Civic LX (my car, the somewhat luxurious model) - $20,630
    Honda Civic Hybrid - $26,250
    Honda Accord SE (like a Civic LX, but bigger) - $26,500

    Look at those numbers as if you were somebody with money. A hippy would say the hybrid civic is a good idea, but hippies don't have money. Your typical angry dad or soccer mom would take the mid-size Accord over the small-ass Civic any day of the week.

    It should also be noted that the hybrid model is usually the top of the line model for a given car. This is true for the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Highlander. There's really no such thing as a cheap hybrid at this point, but who knows what the future will bring.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  16. Apr 10, 2007 #15

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The "Dust to Dust" approach taken here is critical to the process of making good environmental decisions, so I applaud the effort, but many of those lifetime values look suspicious to impossible to me. My first thought is that someone is doing a lot of fudging.

    Anyway, they missed the best option of all: Biodiesel powered autos
    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/16/8390259/index.htm

    Based on the same concept of dust to dust, it is also argued that the combustion of hydrogen in standard IC engines may make more sense than hydrogen fuel cell electric.

    Here, I was wondering about dust to dust and other practical concerns wrt compact flourescent lights.
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=161878

    There has even been conjecture that nuclear power has DtoD issues.

    I don't know if this is addressed in the report, but another DtoD consideration is the energy costs and available options wrt recycling of the materials used to build the vehicle. I know that at least some work has been done [perhaps only as concept cars] to make autos easily recyclable.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2007
  17. Apr 10, 2007 #16

    ShawnD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    We can probably just rule hydrogen out of the equation. It will absolutely never happen because there's this thing called the Joule-Thompson Effect where leaking hydrogen actually gets hotter while most gases would get colder. That means a defective hydrogen tank doesn't just blow out compressed air, it blows out then explodes like a bomb, even if there was no ignition source.
    If something like ephedrine can be banned because a few people had heart attacks, think of how quickly hydrogen would be banned when a few families explode for no apparent reason.
     
  18. Apr 10, 2007 #17
    I have a lease that ends in August and I've been thinking of getting the Civic Hybrid. I agree on the opinion that hybrids are mostly ugly, I'd get the Prius if it didn't look so aweful. The new Altima Hybrid looks pretty great though, but it's around 30k.
     
  19. Apr 10, 2007 #18

    ShawnD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Why did you lease a vehicle in the first place?

    Anyway, pick utility before picking efficiency. For example, owning a van is expensive for everyday driving, but in the end you can still haul around 6 people and a ton of cargo. If you get a Smart Fortwo instead of a van, you have the benefit of efficiency but you can't haul more than 2 people, you can't haul cargo, and you probably can't even take home a TV you just purchased. There's nothing wrong with having only 1 vehicle, but it wouldn't make sense to have only one vehicle and have it essentially useless for anything other than going point A to B.

    Pick something like a Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima. If you can afford the hybrid model, great. If you can't, just get the non-hyrid model. You'll be kicking yourself in a year when you find out you can't go skiing because your skies doesn't fit in the trunk of your tiny Civic. Either that or you can't bring home a TV, or anything else of that nature.
     
  20. Apr 10, 2007 #19

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Do you have any reason to believe that this has been an issue. Testing indicates that hydrogen is safer to store than gasoline. Also, how does it explode without any oxygen?

    There has been progress in alternative storage such as by using material made of carbon nanotubes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2007
  21. Apr 10, 2007 #20

    ShawnD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Just follow my train of thought here and see if you can point out a flaw. For my idea to be correct, all of these assumptions must be correct:

    1). People are impatient and they want their cars fueled quickly.
    2). If you want this car filled in a reasonable amount of time, it will need a very high flow of hydrogen coming into it.
    3). According to Wikipedia (under Storage), liquid hydrogen has an energy density/L roughly 1/4 that of gasoline, which means my Civic would need a 200L tank of liquid hydrogen to go as far as it does using gasoline. Anything less than that, and nobody will buy it. Would you buy a car that only goes 100km before each fill? I sure as hell wouldn't.
    4). This leaves us needing to fill 200L of liquid hydrogen into a tank in under 5 minutes; remember that people are impatient so the time must be similar to that of filling a gas tank (5 minutes maximum if you pay at the pump).
    5). If the tank filling valve on the system fails, that means a minimum of 40L/minute of hydrogen is shooting into the air (200/5 = 40)
    6). Gases stored as liquids tend to make ice form around points where gas leaves the system, or hot points in this case (because hydrogen is weird), and these points are more prone to breaking.
    7). Hydrogen heats up when it decompresses
    8). Hydrogen has a flash point of -250C and an autoignition point of 560C
    9). Hydrogen is flammable from 4-75% in atmospheric air.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2007
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Prius More Environmentally Damaging Than Hummer?
  1. More than enough! (Replies: 1)

  2. More than a pit stop (Replies: 2)

  3. Giving more than 100% (Replies: 15)

Loading...