New Study Disses Prius

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
new study disses prius

Prius/hybrid bashers have a new angle of attack, thanks to Cardiff University and UK automotive consultancy Clifford Thames (who currently features Toyota's logo on its website). The Financial Times reports that the dynamic duo studied a range of vehicles and concluded that many conventional petrol or diesel engined machines (e.g. the Mini Cooper D diesel hatchback and Fiat Panda) are "greener" than the gas – electric Prius. How's that then? "The Cardiff/Clifford Thames ranking gave CO2, nitrogen oxide and other emissions a 50 per cent weighting in assessing cars’ overall environmental friendliness. For the other 50 per cent, it ranked vehicles on their construction, energy and end-of-life costs, based on their length, width and weight." We'd like to see a bit more detail on that formula. Meanwhile the study's author was aware that their results were a bit, um, skewed. “We’re not saying that any car that is the same size as the Prius is better," Clifford Thames’ Richard Barber admitted. "but the gap is closing very rapidly, and conventional technologies will pass the Prius." In fact, “Conventional technology will overtake the Prius over the next 12 to 18 months, and consumers won’t have to pay a premium for it,” said David Riemenschneider, Clifford Thames’ chief executive. Let the eco-games begin! Oh wait; they already have.

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  • Chuckgoolsbee Chuckgoolsbee on Sep 26, 2007
    "Diesel is nasty" As much as some of us tire of Prius-bashing, some of us also grow weary of Diesel-bashing. Some things to remember: * The original design goal of the IC/Hybrid vehicle was low-emissions to meet CARB mandate. Fuel efficiency is a side benefit, NOT a design goal. * The Diesel is the most efficient internal combustion engine in widespread use. * Unlike gasoline, the Diesel engine has the benefit of running with several alternative fuels, at virtually any ratio. Meaning it can run on petroleum, vegetable oils, BioDiesel, or any mixture of the above. * Diesel would in reality be the ideal IC engine to use in an electrical/IC hybrid vehicle if fuel efficiency was the goal. * By combining a Diesel-electric hybrid drive with a non-petroleum based fuel source, you could have the ultimate low-emission, high-efficiency automobile. The tough parts about that ultimate hybrid is scale. Much like a fully electric (ie zero-emissions) car, the trade-offs prevent large-scale deployment and acceptance. Petroleum is easy compared to bio-fuel production and emissions of such engines vary widely based of the feedstock of the fuel's source supply. Gasoline is ubiquitous, Diesel almost, BioDiesel? Hardly. BioFuels are just now in their infancy and so little is known about them. But no, everyone has their bias, or skin in the game and instead of creatively thinking about how to improve the situations, everyone plays the "this is better than that" game and it devolves into a bash-fest/pissing contest/swordfight. Sigh. Batteries are nasty. Gasoline is nasty. Diesel is nasty. It is ALL nasty. There is no such thing as a "green car" just varying shades of nasty. The only "green" way to move about the surface of the planet is with your own two feet, or a bicycle. --chuck

  • TomAnderson TomAnderson on Sep 27, 2007

    Well said Chuck.

  • Hansbos Hansbos on Sep 27, 2007

    Has anyone here read the Financial Times lately? That paper is even more lame then the Wall Street Journal. Prius batteries are fully recyclable and Toyota pays a premium to wreckers to buy them back. Solar panels return their investment in 7-10 years, depending on state policy and energy prices and are now being made from waste byproducts of the computer chip industry. Neither one of these technologies is perfect, but unless someone takes the first step no technologies can ever be perfected.