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Monday, April 03, 2006

 

Hybrids Use More Energy?

According to Art Spinella of CNW Research, Brandon, OR, hybrids use more energy overall and therefore cost more to own than the venerable gasoline powered vehicle. The article hit the wire on March 31-April 1...so perhaps this is Art's way of treating us all to a nice April Fool's joke?

CNW, long known for its expertise in analyzing automotive leasing trends as well as consumer purchase motivation, took into account both the fuel costs as well as production and recycling costs of hybrids vs. traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.

"If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy because of family budgets or depleting oil supplies, it is perfectly logical to consider buying high-fuel-economy vehicles," says Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research, Inc. "But if the concern is the broader issues such as environmental impact of energy usage, some high-mileage vehicles actually cost society more than conventional or even larger models over their lifetime."
In the Autoblog comments I noted, with a wry creeping smile, that many doubted the numbers. I don't know the specifics of the study but I imagine that the advanced battery recycling costs, the battery replacement costs and higher acquisition costs probably off-set the fuel mileage advantages of the hybrid. Plus, there's the ugly factor, of course...something that can't currently be measured.

In my salad days (read: when I worked on Ford's Hybrid and Electric vehicle programs in the 90s) we noted that the total cost of ownership, energy costs and pollution impact of Hybrids and electrics depended entirely on which costs you chose to include in your study. For example, if you recharged your electric vehicle in a power grid with coal fired plants, you actually increased pollution relative to a brand new ICE vehicle (ICE=Internal Combustion Engine). Lifecycle analysis is all about...assumptions. On the other hand, if you include in the price of every ICE, the cost of maintaining peace in the Middle East plus the military industrial complex...well, you might get an entirely different cost equation. :-)

Since I have to get back to work now, I'll leave this for others to ponder...perhaps someone in the Bush Administration (Photo courtesy of the US Army)

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