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#1 of 53 Hybrids not enviro-friendly?! Looking for credibility of this study...
Mar 06, 2007 (7:53 pm)
My wife and I like to consider ourselves environmentally 'conscious'. We recycle and compost whenever possible, use energy-saving fluorescent bulbs, buy energy-saving appliances, subsidize our greenhouse gas emissions through a clean-air program, etc.. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
The next step in our attempt to do our part to help the environment, was to buy a hybrid vehicle. We spent months researching the environmental impact of specific models, fuel economy and safety ratings, and came to a decision - we were going to buy an '07 Camry Hybrid. Until recently.
While checking reviews and doing other research, I came across a study completed by CNW Research (Marketing/Research Firm) out of Oregon. The study involved collecting data pertaining to the energy cost per vehicle, from production to disposal. The report is called the "'Dust to Dust' Automotive Energy Report", and the results are translated into 'dollars per lifetime mile' for all new vehicles sold in the US in 2006. Essentially, this report confirms the amount of energy consumed over the lifetime of a vehicle (to produce, distribute, drive, dispose of, etc.) and therefore the environmental impact.
We were shocked to see that hybrids did not fare well in this report. Here are a few examples (showing energy cost per lifetime mile):
Maybach - $11.582 - *HIGHEST*
Honda Accord Hybrid - $3.295
Toyota Prius - $3.239
Honda Civic Hybrid - $3.238
Ford Expedition - $3.058
Hummer H2 - $3.027
Honda Civic (non-hybrid) - $2.420
INDUSTRY STRAIGHT AVERAGE - $2.281
Honda Accord (non-hybrid) - $2.180
Toyota Camry (non-hybrid) - $1.954
Toyota Tacoma - $1.147
Jeep Liberty - $1.099
Scion xB - $0.478 - *LOWEST*
As you can see, the non-hybrid vehicles scored much better than their hybrid counterparts. It sort of makes sense when you take into account energy usage during production and distribution, fuel economy (small factor, so it seems), energy required to dismantle and dispose of the vehicle, etc., and consider that driving a hybrid may reduce greenhouse gases in the area you drive it, but essentially export pollution to other areas (ie. where the vehicle is built, shipped or disposed of).
Why would we buy a Camry Hybrid, when it's non-hybrid counterpart appears to be much more environmentally 'friendly'?
Other than reading the report itself, we haven't read/heard much about it, and we are really interested in knowing what other people have to say.
We're really looking forward to getting some feedback as to the credibility and legitimacy of this report!
#2 of 53 That study is complete garbage
Mar 07, 2007 (5:40 am)
That study has already been trashed by people all over the world. Their data is wrong, their assumptions are false.
Move along people - nothing to see here....
#3 of 53 Re: That study is complete garbage [larsb]
Mar 07, 2007 (8:37 am)
The study has only been trashed by pro hybrid bloggers not liking the results. The study makes a lot of sense and is probably the most extensive ever done. It is obvious that some here would like it to go away. Until a more comprehensive study comes along I say it is the one to use.
#4 of 53 Re: That study is complete garbage [gagrice]
Mar 07, 2007 (8:46 am)
Um, No, it has been trashed by way more than hybrid bloggers.
This result runs contrary to all other research in the area.
The conclusions appear to be very different from the results of several other rigorous, scientifically-reviewed studies of the lifecycle impact of vehicles (e.g. Argonne National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
· Example 1: These studies conclude that the majority (80-85%) of the total lifetime energy use of a vehicle comes from the driving stage, with the remainder coming from the remaining stages of a vehicle life, whereas the CNW study shows these percentages to be reversed.
· Example 2: Two Toyota models mentioned in the report, the Scion xA and xB sold only in the USA, are engineered with the same processes, built on the same assembly line, transported and shipped together, distributed through the same dealer network, have the same engines and transmissions, are about the same weight (within 50 lbs.), and have very similar fuel consumption ratings (one just over 35 mpg combined, the other just below 35), yet the CNW study shows the lifetime energy use of these vehicles to be very different (53 per cent).
· Example 3: The CNW study states that hybrids require more lifetime energy than even large SUVs. Toyota’s internal analysis does conclude that there is more energy required in the materials production stage for a hybrid, but that this is overwhelmingly made up for in the driving stage (the 80-85% stage), causing the hybrid to have a significantly lower lifetime energy use.
There are also basic factual errors in the report, for example CNW claim that the hybrid batteries are not recycled.
In truth Toyota and sister brand Lexus have a comprehensive battery recycling program in place and has been recycling Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries since the RAV4 Electric Vehicle was introduced in 1998. Every part of the battery, from the precious metals to the plastic, plates, steel case, and the wiring, is recycled. To ensure that batteries come back to Toyota, each battery has a phone number on it to call for recycling information.
Toyota and other environmentally conscious car makers have been using life cycle assessment for many years to evaluate various advanced vehicle technologies. Toyota, along with many others, believes that the best way to judge the environmental impact of a vehicle is to do a full evaluation of all the inputs and outputs in every stage of its life. The lifetime energy use is just one of the many things to look at.
The debate is not helped by sensationalistic reporting of an uncorroborated and unrepresentative piece of marketing research carried out in North America.
Other studies which REFUTE the CNW study:
* The 2001 MIT study called "On the Road in 2020: An Assessment of the Future of Transportation Technology" (.pdf) used a life cycle analysis that concluded that increasing fuel efficiency with hybrid technology, is a net energy and global warming pollution winner.
* Andrew Burnham, Michael Wang, and Paula Moon at the Center for Transportation Research of Argonne National Labs recently gave presentation called “Energy and Emission Effects of the Vehicle Cycle” at the 2006 SAE World Congress. One of the key the conclusions is “Total energy cycle energy use decreases for advanced powertrains & lightweight vehicles… Improved fuel economy offsets increase in vehicle cycle energy.”
* Heather L. MacLean and Lester B. Lave of Carnegie Mellon University published a 1998 life-cycle assessment which concluded that 85 percent of energy use associated with a conventional vehicle’s life cycle is attributable to operation. Only 15 percent is attributable to manufacturing and disposal. Given that, it seems implausible that a 50 mpg rated Honda Civic Hybrid could be worse for the environment than a 17 mpg rated Hummer H3, even if it took twice as much energy to make the hybrid and it is driven half as much before it is replaced.
Also - the CNW study used the ridiculous notion of comparing the Prius to the the Hummer by using a 300,000 mile lifetime figure on the Hummer but only 100,000 mile lifetime for the Prius. Now THAT'S really comparing apples to apples, Huh?
#5 of 53 Re: That study is complete garbage [larsb]
Mar 07, 2007 (9:17 am)
Other studies which REFUTE the CNW study:
How can studies done long before the CNW study refute? And Toyota in their study claims that the pollution in manufacturing and disposal far exceeds that which is put out in driving the vehicle. I would equate pollution as a direct result of energy expended. You have yet to show a study that refutes the study this person is concerned about in this thread. You have just stated bias that you and others share. Older studies may be used but do not address the study at hand. If Toyota would claim that the Prius is good out to 300k miles maybe it would have been included as such.
Did you ever read the whole report or only the bits and pieces presented here on Edmund's?
#6 of 53 Re: That study is complete garbage [gagrice]
Mar 07, 2007 (9:30 am)
This is a dead end conversation - that study is garbage and everyone knows it.
That's why they won't release their data points for peer review.
#7 of 53 Re: That study is complete garbage [gagrice]
Mar 07, 2007 (9:50 am)
Where is the rule that "only the newest study can be accurate?" What does the age of the study have to do with anything?
And you said, "Toyota in their study claims that the pollution in manufacturing and disposal far exceeds that which is put out in driving the vehicle. I would equate pollution as a direct result of energy expended. You have yet to show a study that refutes the study this person is concerned about in this thread."
Um, yes I did show the other studies. Just because they were done before CNW does not invalidate them.
CNW invalidates itself by it's refusal to be peer evaluated.
(Wait, what exactly is the peer for a paid-off garbage study company?)
#8 of 53 Re: That study is complete garbage [larsb]
Mar 07, 2007 (10:26 am)
"Other studies which REFUTE the CNW study:"
I think it would be useful to all if you provided links to the studies.
#9 of 53 Re: That study is complete garbage [stevedebi]
Mar 07, 2007 (11:57 am)
Well, I'm looking for the MIT study link. Found it:
The second study is a $14.00 download you can buy here:
Vehicle-Cycle Energy and Emission Effects of Conventional and Advanced Vehicles
The third study is summarized here:
Automobiles: Manufacture vs. Use
I know at least a couple of hybrid advocates who have personally e-mailed Art Spinella (the head of CNW Research) and he has been very defensive of his data, has called them childish names when they challenged his conclusions, and thus far he still refuses to provide his data for peer review.
To come out and make these outrageous claims and then refuse to let others see and evaluate the data to see if their assumptions were scientifically correct is a joke.
I can guarantee from the results that they were not.
#10 of 53 Re: That study is complete garbage [larsb]
Mar 07, 2007 (12:02 pm)
So far all you have given is your own biased opinion on the CNW study. It is available at CNW. I would like to see where someone was able to pick it apart with some credible evidence. So far no one has. If you had read the 450+ page report you could give us an analysis along with facts that are valid to help make up our minds about the report. You have only looked at the list and claim it is wrong because it puts the hybrids in a poor light. Guess what there are many of us that consider the hybrid a poor choice for the environment. As well as a poor choice economically.