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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    'Dust to Dust' Automotive Energy Report

    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


    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.

    Report: "'Dust to Dust' Automotive Energy Report"

    Looking forward to getting some feedback on this topic!

  2. #2
    I'm EXTREMELY skeptical of this report. It will take some time to digest it completely but a few things jump out at me immediately:

    1. The company that prepared it makes their money selling reports about the status-quo auto industry that crushed the pure EV's, made hybrids as weak as possible, refused to make strong hybrids, hired publicists for anti- ev publicity campaigns, promotes 'yellow' hype bs, promotes hydrogen, etc. This, alone, makes their motives suspicious.

    2. On the factual side, one thing jumped out to me immediately: How come big SUV's (Tahoe, Escalade, Suburban, Expedition, etc) get life expectancies of over 250K miles while a Prius is only good for 109K? I can see this figure giving a 240% penalty to the hybrids to begin with.

    I'll look further into how they derive their estimates but I don't give much stock in this report at all. I'd look for other reports, independantly derived, that echo the same or similiar trends before granting any credence to this.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Thanks for the feedback so far!

    I'm also a little skeptical, but more curious than ever to know how the entire lifecycle of one specific car compares to others in terms of environmental impact (even if just based on energy usage). At this point it's just difficult to know who/what to believe/trust.

  4. #4
    I can certainly believe that if two cars require the same amount of energy to build and recycle, the one that goes further in its lifetime, uses less energy per mile. I also agree that it takes a lot of energy to build a car (steel processing, energy-rich hydrocarbons used in plastics, glass processing, etc) and to recycle it (melt it all down again). It also probably takes more energy for a car manufactured in Japan (as the Prius and HCH are -today) than one manufactured in Detroit, simply because they don't need to be transported as far.
    I just suspect that the factual numbers have been weighted (conveniently) by quite a bit in order to achieve a desired result. I also suspect that missing data (as is likely with hybrids that haven't been existance for long) may be substituted with particularly convenient assumptions.
    I do know that the jury is still out on Compact Flourescent lightbulbs for 2 reasons:
    1. There are a lot of toxic materials in a CFL that aren't in an incandescent
    2. In the winter, the 'wasted' heat generated by an incandescent (compared with a CFL) isn't actually wasted since it offsets that amount of heat that a furnace must produce.
    3. Manufacturing energy required to build a CFL are more than an incandescent although I haven't seen any credible studies as to whether this is offset by the significantly longer life.

  5. #5
    Here's some more stuff to which I must say HUH?
    Why does a Civic Hybrid only last for 113K miles and 9 years while an ICE Civic lasts 178K miles and 15 years? First of all, the HCH hasn't even been around for 9 years (especially not in 2005 when the report was generated) yet so why wouldn't one match it with it's ICE brother?
    Also, I don't see any rational justification (other than pure predjudice) for the following statement in the report:
    "One thing is clear. The typical hybrid small vehicle such as the Prius is driven far fewer miles each year than a comparably sized budget car. And for good reason. Like Upper Premium Sports cars, 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. Clearly both of those are generalizations and there are exceptions, but nonetheless this is a reality of automotive use."
    Who's making this stuff up? Why are hybrids only used on college campuses or retirement neighborhoods? Is the moron who wrote this confusing hybrids with golf carts?
    I'm going to quit analyzing this biased piece of propaganda. I have more important things to do.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    I can appreciate your frustration, and most certainly appreciate your feedback and insight.

    Thanks once again.

  7. #7

    Save energy, drive car longer

    I have been thinking about this study (when I was standing at the pump, pouring dead dinosaurs into my 1991 Buick ) and it came to me that what it really says is that:

    The best way (or at least a very good way) to save a lot of energy is to:
    - put as many miles on your car before it is scrapped as you can
    - buy American in order to reduce the transportation energy to ship the car from Japan or Korea to the US.

    Its also saying that it believes that:
    1. hybrid drivers are flakes who are expected to only drive their cars for a short time, then jump to the next new thing
    2. hybrid drivers will waste energy by retentively fixing any minor scratches and dings
    3. hybrids will only come from offshore, US auto manufacturers won't make them
    4 hybrid drive trains aren't put into utility vehicles such as vans or trucks that can have a utility/industrial life, even after they are no longer desireable as a consumer vehicle (this is their justification for much longer vehicle life for trucks and vans).

    Maybe there is something good to be learned from this effort after all, even if it was written with the intent to discredit hybrids.

  8. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Additional thought on production: Toyota has separate plant near where Prius built to create chips and computer components. Those processes can have negative environmental effects, but other cars now have computers as well.
    Most Prius I see are driven like other sedans to work, school, soccer, etc. Given Toyota quality I suspect their life will be far beyond 150K with second owners. A few have gone beyond 200K with original batteries.

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Newer Article Citing Same Data

    Hi Folks,

    I am new to this forum and joined today b/c as a Prius owner I too was shocked by this artcile which cites data from the CNW Research report. Check out this link: http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/edito...asp?NewsID=188

    How do you think they arrived at the fact that Prius owners only drive 100,000 or so miles for the life of the car? Did CNW base this on recommended Toyota Battery usage data?

    Also I certainly don't think the majority of Hummer H2 drivers will own their cars for 300,000 miles. They are way too vain for that.

    Any help getting answers would be greatly appreciated.


  10. #10

    Good answer

    You answered your own question, Rzod3. The study was well stocked with slanted assumptions. Previous posters have answered why: who is CNW, anyway, but a mouthpiece for GM?

    Actually, if I may speak for Prius owners, I think a lot of us will be looking to turn our cars into plug-in hybrids when the first battery pack goes kaput. At least count me in that number. So assuming I hit 150k on the first bunch of batteries, I'll be extending my car's life to 500k.

    Sadly, it's already beaten up (some Dallas yaya keyed it), so it's not like it will look great for the entire 500k. But the body will maintain its excellent coefficient of drag, making it easier (and therefore more efficient) on whatever is putting power to the wheels.

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