Thursday, August 14, 2008


A few months ago, he environmentalists started pointing their fingers and grumbling at Paul McCartney because he bought a hybrid vehicle…and then had it flown halfway around the world to him on a jet because he didn’t want to wait for it.

They pointed out that the jet trip basically cancelled out the environmental benefits of owning a hybrid.

Well, it’s time to point something else out.

The Toyota Prius has basically been the environmentalists’ wet-dream. Less pollution, better gas mileage and less damage to mother earth.

I call shenanigans.

As I’ve pointed out before, the mileage these things are supposed to get is totally overblown. They’re supposed to get 55-60mpg, but this number was arrived at with a brand-new Prius driving at a constant speed on a test track. Once you take real-world conditions into account, this number drops considerably. Average milage is actually around 40-50 miles per gallon.

But sure, it’s lower, but it’s still great right? Look at those big trucks and hummers that get less than 8mpg!

Well, that’s just comparing the two extremes. It’s like getting stuck with pins and calling it luxury because it’s so comfortable compared to being stabbed over and over again with a pitchfork.

For example, know what also gets 40-50mpg? Almost any midsize diesel car. For example, USA Today took a Toyota Prius and a Diesel engined VW Jetta GLS 2.0 from Washington to Detroit.

The figures speak for themselves. The Prius managed 38mpg, while the Jetta managed 44mpg.

In other words, the Jetta has better mileage, without the total lack of horse-power that comes as standard with all hybrids. (For comparison, the Jetta has 170 horses under the hood while the Prius has 110, but that’s only when both the gas engine and the electric engine are running. As soon as the gas engine cuts off, you might as well pedal).

Speaking of performance, here’s something else you might find interesting.

The british car show ‘Top Gear’ did an experiment where they put a Toyota Prius and a BMW M3 on their test track. The idea was that the Prius had to drive around the track as fast as it possibly could, while the BMW M3 just had to keep up.

When driven as fast as possible the Prius managed 17.2mpg…and the 4-liter V-8 BMW managed 19.4mpg!

Just to really hit this point home, my car at the moment is a ’94 Ford Aspire. After it’s last tune up a few weeks ago, we tested its mileage. It’s getting roughly 37 miles to the gallon. That’s right, a twelve year old Ford is getting only 1mpg less than a brand new Ford Aspire

Ok, I’ll be fair here and say that if you’re buying a Prius you’re probably not going to be taking it to the local track or driving it as aggressively as possible. It’s designed for slow, in-city driving and actually does really well on mileage under those conditions.

However, here’s something to put Paul McCartney’s actions into perspective.

As I said above, environmentalists blasted McCartney because putting a Prius on a jet to ship it cancelled out its environmental benefits. Unfortunately, manufacturing a Prius already does that.

The Prius’ batteries use Nickel which is mined in a very ‘environmentally unfriendly’ way in Canada. Then it’s trucked to the US, loaded on a cargo ship and taken all the way to Europe for refinement, then transported to China where it’s processed into a type of foam…then to Japan where it’s put into the batteries and put into the car. Then, of course, when the battery needs replacement, it’s non-biodegradable casing and all the toxic chemicals inside it spend eternity in a landfill.

So, what all this boils down to is that in the long term, these super ‘environmentally friendly’ hybrids actually do more damage to the environment than a LandRover Discovery.

Oh, and one final point. Human action is only responsible for 3% of the carbon dioxide production on the planet…and the methane produced by cows does more damage to the environment in a day than all the cars on the planet combined.

So…all I can say is the next time you’re driving your gas-guzzling muscle car through town, be sure to look smugly at the hybrid owners and farmers, safe in the knowledge that they’re doing more damage to ‘mother earth’ than you are.

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