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.

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

Looking forward to getting some feedback on this topic!