Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Busting The Myth of Eco-Friendly Hummers and Eco-Toxic Priuses

Is it outright deliberate deception, bad science, or merely urban legend run amok?

The widely cited study that claims the manufacturing and transport of Prius batteries has worse environmental impact than building and driving a Hummer has serious flaws:

• It bases assumptions on the Hummer being driven for 379,000 miles, while the Prius gets retired after just 109,000 miles (and having owned many Toyotas, I can tell you that most of them are just hitting their stride at 100K); this alone is enough to completely invalidate the study
• The issues about nickel mining are taken out of context and based on 30-years-obsolete data
• In general, life-cycle issues related to cars skew 85% toward use over the vehicle’s lifetime, and only 15% to manufacturing and distribution–so even if the Prius energy consumption has a higher front-load than typical, it’s not likely to be enough to overwhelm the energy savings during the car’s useful life
• Oh yes, and no independent researchers reviewed the data

Two good articles with real data: This very readable one from the Sierra Club, and this more technical one from Pacific Institute(it’s a PDF).

I would be very curious about what economic interests were behind the original claim–which got picked up by George Will, among many others.


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