Five Reasons Buying a Hybrid Prius Won't Save the Planet

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2011 Toyota Prius

2011 Toyota Prius

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The 2012 Toyota Prius gets the best EPA-rated gas mileage--50 miles per gallon combined--of any non-plug-in car sold in the U.S.

But the Prius hybrid sometimes gets a bad rap.

At least some of it is due to the notorious (and very funny) South Park episode in which a deadly attack of Smug afflicts the little mountain town whose residents all drive a hatchback called the Pious.

With its top-of-the-list gas mileage, a Prius hybrid is clearly a step in the direction of driving green--and all journeys begin with the first step. But by itself, buying a hybrid isn't enough.

Here are five reasons that just driving a Toyota Prius won't make a notable dent in the enormous task of saving the planet (however you may define that).

(1) Burning gasoline generates more carbon dioxide than driving electric (in most states)

While their results vary in degree, two studies conclude that in many states, driving a mile on grid power produces less "wells-to-wheels" carbon than driving a mile in a 25-mpg gasoline car.

The 50-mpg Prius is slightly better in a few states with the dirtiest grids--like North Dakota and West Virginia--that use almost entirely coal.

But the grid will slowly get cleaner over time, with no new coal plants, more natural gas, and a slow but steady growth in the use of renewable energy.

So electric cars are mostly better now, and will get even cleaner over time--unlike the Prius.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production version road test, San Diego, CA, Jan 2012

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, production version road test, San Diego, CA, Jan 2012

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(2) Using less gasoline is not as good as driving less

If you buy a 2011 Toyota Prius for a round-trip commute that's 100 miles, you're still burning 500 gallons of gasoline a year. Whereas if you could walk, bicycle, carpool, or take mass transit to work, you wouldn't.

Unfortunately, 60 years' worth of U.S. zoning laws have trapped many of us into suburban sprawl that keeps commercial buildings--be they stores or offices--miles away from residences.

That means a car becomes necessary even to get a gallon of milk. And outside a few major cities, mass transit is unappealing to nonexistent.

While most Americans say they would like to live much closer to their jobs, mixed-use neighborhoods that prioritize walking, biking, and mass transit over single-occupant cars are often still viewed as something akin to Socialism by local officials. 

Never mind the traffic, in other words--not our problem--and besides, expanding roads generates jobs!

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

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(3) Even a Prius can't keep pace with global car growth

We now have 1 billion vehicles on the planet, and by some estimates, we'll have 2 billion or more by 2050. In other words (well, just one word): China.

Today, only a tiny number of China's 1 billion-plus people have cars. That will change.

So just to stay in the same place, the efficiency of every vehicle has to double--to Prius levels or more.

But many scientists say that to stem the predicted effects of climate change, we must cut our carbon output up to 80 percent from today's levels. That will bring far more radical changes.

(4) Modern lifestyles encompass much more than just car emissions

One of our favorite book titles lately is Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, whose authors measured the environmental impact of modern lifestyles.

Scout the dog, rescued by Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption, Accord, NY; photo: Jay Blotcher

Scout the dog, rescued by Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption, Accord, NY; photo: Jay Blotcher

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They conclude that adopting an existing animal and spaying it has an impact on your family's carbon footprint.

We don't recommend cooking your cat, but if you're thinking about your pet having litters of adorable furry kittens or puppies--think again.

More than that, cut out airplane flights. They comprise up to 80 percent of a frequent traveler's carbon footprint.

(5) Family planning and contraception may be more cost-effective

Far more impactful than spaying your pet would be making effective family planning services and contraception globally available.

A London School of Economics report suggests that family planning can eliminate atmospheric carbon for $6.70 per ton, against conventional technologies to improve vehicle fuel efficiency that can cost up to $31.70 a ton.

Forgo the Prius, and spend that money donating to Planned Parenthood? It might be more effective.

For more along these lines, see also our discussion of why gas-guzzlers will always be with us.


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Comments (102)
  1. Very interesting article, John. Well done.

  2. "Burning gasoline generates more carbon dioxide than driving electric (in most states)"

    Per EPA, 50 MPG Prius emits 222 gram of CO2 per mile (178 tailpipe + 44 upstream). Leaf emits 230 gram of CO2 per mile (national average). The figure is from EPA's Beyond Tailpipe Emission site which uses 2010 eGrid but the data is actually from 2007. 2012 eGrid using 2010 data is available but EPA has not use it officially.

    Focus BEV does better at 210 gram/mi but it has compact interior volume. Both Prius and Leaf have mid-size interior.

    Prius PHV is rated at 210 gram/mi and have the midsize interior.

    A few more data points.... Mitsubishi i-MiEV sub-compact is rated 200 gram/mi. Tesla Model S (large car) is rated at 250 gram/mi.

  3. @Dennis: Good data, but not the only set.

    This year's Union of Concerned Scientists study IDed the MPG level at which electric cars were equal to gasoline cars, using national 2007 grid data which is the latest available.

    The 2007 EPRI-NRDC study assumes some greening of the grid over time (slightly less conservative than UCS study) in projecting lifetime "wells-to-wheels" carbon emissions of a plug-in versus a gasoline car.

    This all speaks to the point that rigorous analysis of the wells-to-wheels energy profile of different modes of transport is needed to make smart policy decisions.

    I'd love to see a comparison of the different assumptions and data sets across multiple reports.

  4. What it really proves is that the Prius CO2 and EV CO2 are almost the same within a small percentage and in any case, getting people out of a Camry in to a Prius would cut emissions in half without a change in consumer behavior or the price paid for the vehicle.

  5. All of which ignores the many other geopolitical and economic implications of increasing petroleum use and declining reserves. Electric begins to move us in the right direction instead of optimizing fading technology.

  6. I like your comment about "optimizing fading technology". This seems to be what many established car makers are doing and in my opinion, a lot of the established car makers are a bunch of dumb asses.

  7. @John Voelcker: I checked the EPRI-NRDC study you reference. The midsize hybrid used in the comparison was rated at 37.9 MPG, so it is no Prius. That explains the conclusion they reached.

  8. Once again Voelcker comes out with a broadside against the Prius suggesting that people should have their $%^#s cut off before they sink to the depths of despair needed to drive a Prius.

    On the one hand, he feels that there is no possible way that you will ever get people out of gas guzzlers, but on the other hand, Prius drivers should really be driving an EV. Really doubtful logic.

    The Camry driver that can be convinced to drive a Prius will double his gas mileage. Extend that logic to all vehicles, and fuel consumptions drops in half.

    As for the false logic of driving versus walking, well here is an idea, buy a Prius and also walk, or bike as I do.

    But by all means, have a vasectomy and strap a pair of truck nuts on the F150.

  9. "But by all means, have a vasectomy and strap a pair of truck nuts on the F150."

    LOL!!! (Or since you're getting neutered.... ;-))

    Thanks for making my day!

  10. Going from Camry to Prius is an easy step to cut your carbon footprint.

    Prius PHV takes it to another level. It shows that you don't need a big battery (or huge tax credit), long recharge time or limitation in range to further lower carbon footprint.

    We'll have to see if the 7.5 kWh battery in C-MAX Energi would become counter-productive. We know it eats into the cargo volume... what about the CO2?

    Blended plugin hybrids are proving not only to be affordable (under $30k after incentive) but also provide midsize interior and the green cred to back it up.

  11. Mr. Briggs, I usually enjoy your comments, which always seem to be first, but this may be your best and most amusing. Keep'em coming. I, and probably most TR readers, totally agree with your comments!

  12. Erik, Thanks for the kind words.

  13. There are more comments in this thread
  14. I think this article is aimed at those "snobbish" Prius owners (especially those in Marin County) that thinks driving a Prius gives them the right to rub it in all other people's faces... Of course, that doesn't mean every Prius driver.

    But I would say EVs are far more efficient than Prius. That is due to the simple fact of Electric motor vs. ICE. Efficiency gain is good in every link of the energy chain.

    Sure, buying a Prius is better than buying a gas guzzler, but buying an EV is better than a Prius. Or if you have to, buy a Plugin Prius (I hate to say it)...

  15. "But I would say EVs are far more efficient than Prius. That is due to the simple fact of Electric motor vs. ICE. Efficiency gain is good in every link of the energy chain."

    Nope. Fuel production efficiency and vehicle efficiency are reciprocal for HV and EV.

    For EV, fuel production is about 40% efficient but EV efficiency is about 80%.

    For HV, fuel production is about 80% efficient but HV efficiency is about 40%.

    This is the reason why Prius and Leaf have about the same carbon footprint.

  16. That is assuming the current Electrical Grid. But you can alwasy offset that EV with solar panels where your Prus wont' be able to offset the gas burned...

    If you add maintaince, the EV is even lower in carbon footprint, no oil change, no air filters...

  17. Where did you get the fact that HV efficiency is about 40%?

    ICE is about 20% at best. Of course, with hybrid, you recover some of the braking energy... Also, fuel production migh be 80% efficient, but how much fuel do we burn to transport that fuel around the country? From around the world?

  18. @Xiaolong: See the graph below. Prius Atkinson cycle ICE can extract more energy from gasoline (BSFC 220 g/kWh). The battery allows the ICE to stay at highest efficiency regions (by shutting it down when inefficient). There is much more to it than regen brake.

    Per US Energy Information Admin, "About 2/3 of the energy used to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity is “lost” at power plants and in power lines." Renewable electricity represents 11% but fossil fuel dominates at 67%.

  19. The highest efficiency point of the ICe is determined by the thermal difference between the explosion temperature and exhaust temperature... That is thermodynamic law. The battery doesn't do anything at cruising speed once it is depleted. On a long cruise, those batteries are arealy fully charged. Your link is based on a Toyota's study, That includes the "City cycle" of Japanese testing where regen becomes a big part of the efficiency calculation.

    2/3 of the energy lost for electricity generation is mainly at power plant where the efficiency is in the 40% range.

    But if you live in pacific NW, the generation is mostly hydro. Like I said, you can always offset the power consumed with solar panels but you can't do that with your Prius

  20. EPA warns about not claiming green cred directly. If you want to take the full green cred for your solar panel, you'll need to charge your plugin directly (not connected to the grid). Selling solar electricity to the grid during the day and charging your plugin at night from the grid would not qualify for a direct claim. You'll have to use the average electricity CO2 from your utility company (mixture of your solar panel plus others), as indirect claim.

    As you pointed out, some states have more renewable electricity than others. Hawaii generates 75% of electricity from oil. DC generates 100% from oil. States like KY, WV and WY gets 91-96% of electricity from Coal.

    In summary, don't cherry pick. It is more useful to use national average.

  21. I charge half of my battery at work where there is a 1MW solar installation... It is charged there directly.

    As far as the "offset" goes, I think it is valid..

  22. There are more comments in this thread
  23. Electricity in the US is getting cleaner for sure. However, it is not zero emission -- which is why it is important for plugin hybrids to take account of both tailpipe emission and beyond (upstream).

    There is only one plugin hybrid(of any size) that has lower carbon footprint than the regular 50 MPG Prius. That plugin hybrid is Prius PHV (210 vs 222 g/mi).

  24. That assumption is based on "average electricity" generation source, NOT your individual source. YOu can always install solar to offset it. Also, your links didn't include vehicle maintainence, transportation and distribution of the gasoline.

    Also, your PIP vs Prius study is ONLY "best case". where PIP is only rated 6 miles all electric miles. Explain to me that how can a 6 miles EPA rated electric car (15 miles max with hypermiling) can have less CO2 emission 210 vs.222 if you claim Prius is more efficient than an EV? Shouldn't the EV portion make it worse? I think there are some funny math there...

  25. Those are excellent questions. Gasoline transportation, distribution and drilling are included. See this link.

    Regarding Prius vs. Prius PHV, the comparison is from the official EPA figures. 95 MPGe for 11 miles and 50 MPG thereafter results in lower carbon footprint than the regular 50 MPG Prius.

    Note that Prius PHV uses less electricity per mile than any other plugin car (of any size). It also use gasoline more efficient than any other hybrid (beating regular Prius on highway by 1 MPG).

  26. I think the "secret" to Prius PHV's lower carbon footprint is due to the responsible use of electricity. Toyota recognized that electricity is not zero emission. PHV mainly use EV for City driving below 62 mph. Any higher speed drastically reduce EV range due to the law of aerodynamic.

    Prius PHV also prevent "large" power draw from the battery such fast acceleration or climbing hills. The gas engine with super dense energy is there to cover those worse scenarios for the low energy density battery.

    The idea is to use each fuel when they are best, depending on the driving condition (not range). Doing that enables synergy between the two power sources. That resulted in lower weight, cost and emission.

  27. There are more comments in this thread
  28. @Dennis Chin,

    California is the largest market for EV and Prius in the US.

    In Northern California, PG&E serves the market. PUC requires PG&E to commit to green power by buying renewable power. Less than 20% of PG&E power generation is from coal. Hydro, Renewable and Nuclear account for about 50% of its generation. It also includes the power it receives from home solar generation and it is required to buy "green power" from other grid as well. So, if PG&E can buy green power from the grid and its users (by paying them the difference), then why is it wrong to claim the "green credit" for your own solar generation?

    If the largest state for Prius and EVs are fairly "green" in its power generation, then using national average is lazy.

  29. You can view carbon footprint at national level, state level, regional level, utility company level or personal level. It is really a global issue.

    You should be proud of the setup you have. I am not trying to take it away from you. I just think you are not objective about Prius and the PHV model. I don't know if you noticed, your statements sound almost like bashing.

    Regarding your "green credit" question, renewable electricity cost more than electricity from coal. If you sell your solar electricity at higher price and charge your plugin battery with lower priced "dirty" electricity at night, you lose the right to directly claim solar.

  30. I am on E-1 price, flat rate... Beside the rate "advantage", how is it different in energy? ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT when you generate 10KWH and get it back 10KWH at a different time.

    I already mentioned that using "national average" is "lazy" when California is the largest market for EVs and Hybrid. At least it should be "weighted".

    Global issue is a lost cause in countries such as China and India where efficiency doesn't exist and coal generates 70-80% of the power. Prius or any EV are just too expensive for those market.

    The "bashing" is due to the number skewed in favor of hybrid in terms of CO2 emission due to "lazy" averaging while in fact, you can do something about it in EV but you can't do anything to offset the gas in hybrid.

  31. claiming green credentials from your charging source makes no sense because then you are comparing different systems and parts. the correct comparison would be a Prius owner with solar panels vs. an EV owner with solar panels. then you will see that the Prius owner has reduced their environmental impact and at a lower cost.

  32. @Arthur Yip,

    What are you talking about? Dennis was talking about how much CO2 each vehicle generates. Prius with Solar Panels still generate CO2 with its gas emission. EV can reduce that. Sure, Prius with solar panels can reduce your house hold electricty usage. But we are talking about Car to Car here...

    Plus, everytime you change that stinking oil in your slow Prius, it generates tons of CO2 emission that is NOT included in all the estimate.

  33. The article is very political, it is militant (committed) partisan, and teaches doctrine loud and clear: Do not buy Prii they do not solve a problem! Then if you do not buy imports, you will most likely buy national . If I were a literate person, I would use the article to illustrate what a sophism is. Speaking of Socialism, all of the above are propaganda techniques (I know because I grew up in one of those places). No, I am a physicist who understands laws of conservation a bit, and as one I can tell you that the Prius is an accomplished car that simply uses the idea of energy conservation to save you a couple of bucks when you go to the gas pump. Energy conservation is a universal law, and there is nothing wrong with it!

  34. It applies to all processes, human or not, which include (and not limited to)to all the examples you utilized to discredit the Prius: aviation, coal mining, oil digging, etc. Trust me, if we humans used energy conservation in all areas of our activity as effectively as the Prius does it, this world would be a better place to live.

  35. It is NOT energy conservation if a slow Prius cause a traffic jam b/c its driver is trying to save fuel and the car is just slow...

  36. @Xialong Li. I can sense you don't like the Prius, but you don't have to lie to make your point. I own a 2012 Prius, I drive it every day and it does not cause traffic congestions; and you can start faster than the average car from a red light and still make over 50 mpg. In addition, My wife and I (big people) recently drove it (with tons of luggage) way above the speed limit on a place where the signs read 80 mph on par with reputable V8's, up and down mountains, and I averaged not less than 44 mpg. I just applied concepts like average speed, energy conservation again and took advantage of the fact that the Prius has a low Cd. I have a funny feeling that you don't understand any of the above.

  37. The Prius is an absolutely wonderfully solution to the problems with fossil fuels. The layout is much more usable (bigger) than the Volt and it is more efficient than the Volt on longer trips.

    In addition, it's 0-60 time is 9.7 seconds which is not exactly slow.

  38. GCR listed its performance as 11 secs. But various magzines have different numbers. But in general, it is NOT a "fast" ride. Let us NOT even start on the handling part.

    Most people only drive the car by themselves 90% of the time. I rarely see a Prius with more than 1 person during daily commute. Volt is more than enough for that. Sure, Prius has more space. But My Volt only used 9.2 Gallon of gas in the 2548 miles it has. Rest of the charges are all electric (mostly solar). Prius can't do that.

    Prius is a car that is NOT designed to win the races except for its MPG. The car itself is fine. It is just some of its owners take it to the extreme in the way they drive to max the already good fuel efficiency...

  39. @John, what you say makes sense even when I haven't driven a Volt (which was my favorite) yet. I learned that the Prius has a hybrid system that runs on parallel mode, by which you can always combine battery and engine power as long as you have gas in the tank. The Volt however, is a series system that always run on electric power first, and then it switches to gas only when the battery dies. So if you forget to plug in your Volt the night before to charge the batteries, you may end up running on gas only in the morning ( @36mpg). I can sense that driving style may have a greater impact on fuel consumption (better gas mileage) when combined with a parallel hybrid system like the Prius's.

  40. @Burke,

    Volt is actually both series and parallel system. Once the battery is depleted, it runs in series system until 70mph, then the engine provides the power as well as powering the generator. So, it switches between series and parallel system during "extended range" mode...

    Volt actually gets a lot better miles than 35 EPA miles. I regularly get around 40 (with my crazy fast driving style). If I slow down to 60mph, I can easily hit 45 miles in range. I get about 38mpg to 40 mpg in the gas mode. But my gas mode experience is limited since I have only burned 9.2 Gallon in my Volt in the last 2586 miles...

  41. There are more comments in this thread
  42. Well, I don't like its slow driving owners.

    What is "average" car speed in 0-60mph? To me, a double digits of 11 seconds of 0-60mph is slow.

    Maybe you should come to the SF bay area and teach some of the slowest Prius driver to how to merge at hwy speed properly without causing backups.. Low Cds only help on hwy speed. Skinner tires on Prius help too. That is why it has poor handling, braking and lack all "fun" factors in a car. Sure, it is a machine design for max fuel economy. But it is NOT designed to help the flow of traffice when its drivers are glued to the MPG display.

    When I rented the Gen II Prius, I only managed 38mpg with my normal driving. But I dont' drive like a Prius driver. Physicist? Ha.

  43. @Xiaolong Li: Thank you for your reply! I get it that you drive a Volt, good! b/c I have some questions for you. Once the battery is depleted in a series hybrid system you cannot get any electric power from it unless you recharge it by any means available. Are you saying that when you run out of battery the Volt runs a parallel hybrid system i.e. she uses regenerative breaking to recharge the battery? If your answer is "yes" then the Volt hybrid system is superior than the Prius's. I am looking forward to read your answer, and thank you for your time!

  44. @ Burke,

    YES, YES and YES.

    Volt has regen, whether in Battery mode or in hybrid mode, it doesn't matter, it will regen. In fact, I have done it both ways. Volt will switch off engine while it has regen energy (even during depletion mode), at stop light, during light accerlate and coasting..

    Parallel hybrid only happens when you in depletion mode and cruising above 70mph.

    There are Volt owners who have done trips to see how much miles they can get in CO. They went up a long hill until the battery are gone and regen on the way down. One of the owners managed to charge back 22 miles worth of range...

  45. @Burke,

    Another thing to clear up. Volt is a PURE EV before battery depletion (with regen), no hybrid, no engine of any kind... Once the battery is depleted, it operates as a series hybrid with regen unless you drive it faster than 70mph where the ICE will be directed to power the wheel directly to max efficiency...

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  47. "on par with reputable V8's"?
    hahah. on the downhill part.

  48. @Xialong Li. Man, chill out. You got your point made: You hate hybrid cars. I got it! But who cares? You only care about 0-60mph time and pure gas power, right? Great! You haven't even begun to understand the issue here. But I got good news for you: Porsche Is about to release the 918 Spyder hybrid that has a V8 engine mated to a hybrid system that delivers 770hp; runs 0-60mph in under 3s, and has a top speed of over 200mph; and what is best: it does all of the above at 78mpg! Do you like hybrids better now? Are you beginning to understand the importance of hybrid vehicles? I hope!

  49. @Burke,

    I don't hate hybrid cars. I like it when it was designed to be both efficient and capable when needed to be.

  50. Hello there. I replied your last post and is very informative. Thank you! One more question: How many kw/hr of power does it take to replenish the Volt's Battery? I live in Miami and obviously this is not California...Thanks!

  51. There are more comments in this thread
    There are more comments in this thread
  52. I have seen Volt drivers going slow (about 50 mph), probably to extend EV range and afraid to use premium gas at 37 MPG?

    I don't blame the car, just the driver. There are all types of drivers for every cars out there.

  53. Sure, there are slow drivers in every type of cars. But in SF Bay Area, there are "far more" slow Prius drivers than even the Buick drivers...

    My friend can easily get 50 miles out of her Volt's e-range, I only get about 40 miles... That should tell you something...

  54. @Xiaolong Li this is the second time you have referred to the Prius as slow which plainly indicates you have a problem which appears somewhat juvenile. Your argument was interesting up to that point. If you want to be taken seriously may I suggest you show some interest and respect for all the vehicles discussed here rather than a high school approach of "mine" is better than yours! Whatever your personal gripe toward local drivers is it does not travel.

  55. GCR list it as 11 secs in 0-60mph. John Briggs just compared its handle with Minivans...

    I think I rest my case...

  56. In your eyes only! The Volt is also dead slow compared to the Tesla Model S if you want to compare things.The normal user of these cars are not interested in the fine points of a second or two or three between them so grow up and quit acting like a juvenile over speed and acceleration figures.

  57. Well, I have driven both multiple times and back to back. Everyone who has AND those who have taken a ride in both have all agree that Prius is "gutless" and Volt is far more "peppy". We haven't even mentioned the quality of the interior or handling yet...

  58. @Gatewood,

    I am just curious, have you driven the Volt yet?

  59. Very well said Alberto!

  60. @ER Thanks for the kind words!

  61. John Voelcker starts out by saying that a Prius won't make notable dent in the enormous task of saving the planet *however you may define that*, but subsequently makes saving the planet all about cutting CO2 emissions to which end eating your pet or getting a vasectomy is more helpful apparently.

    What he fails to mention in this article is that our oil addiction has actually a wide range of nasty consequences besides the controversial topic of CO2 emissions.

    Guess that's the sort of errors you make if you write about something you don't really believe in.

  62. I expected this article to get a wide variety of comments, but I must say I am baffled as to where the vasectomy meme has come from.

    Birth control most often means condoms, and that's the photo in the linked story. The word "vasectomy" doesn't appear anywhere in this piece, in fact! So, help me understand: From whence cometh this rather odd focus on the procedure?

  63. Hey you combined Spaying and family planning in the same sentence! The implication seems clear.

    Also, says something about "lifestyle" that you think of condoms. They are not part of my "lifestyle".

  64. I don't think the exact methods of birth control you had in mind is really the issue here, John. The real issue is why you write about a subject you clearly don't care very much about in articles with a often negative (or tongue in cheek like in this case I suppose, maybe it's all just a joke to you?) undertone towards the need for and feasibility of vehicles that could reduce oil addiction as a result.

  65. Do you really think it is tongue in cheek? I assumed Voelcker was serious. Usually tongue in cheek writing has some "over the top" portion that lets you know.

  66. "Forgo the Prius, and spend that money donating to Planned Parenthood?" - you have to be kidding! Isn't it the place that offers an unborn child killing service? Wasn't that the place where a mother tragically died recently? I think I'll keep my money in my pocket and use it towards my Electric Go Karts (so I can do more drifting) & proceed with my planned Electric Car Conversions & Electric Motorcycle Conversions.

  67. To be fair, Planned Parenthood offers a wide variety of (universally acceptable) services to people who often have no other resources. They shouldn't be seen in the light of a single objectionable issue.

  68. The title of this article is absolutely horrible! It should read:
    "Five Better Things To Do Then Buying A Prius to Save The Planet."...or something like that.

    Being more green, environmentally friendly, or trying to save the planet is not an either or scenario for most people. Rather, the greener choice is the smarter choice that requires some research and thought. Many, if not most, TR readers will not be able to implement your reasons if they haven't done so already. However, their next vehicle choice can and should be much more efficient, eg Prius, to save them money as well as to help save the planet. The current Prius, n all hybrids, is a transition vehicle to what will be our renewable energy based electric vehicles next decade.

  69. With that said, I have for many years adhered to reasons 2, 4, and 5. I hope more GCR readers will also adopt more planet saving measures as a result of your badly titled but good content article.

  70. Well said

  71. Yeah, how about how much pollution it takes to create Prii batteries?? Or any other part of new car production. Any benefit beyond decreasing reliance on foreign oil is pretty well muted. If you wanted to be eco-friendly, stick the portly drivetrain into an old 1969 Toyota.
    But no one will do that, because of safety. Of course safety is relative. Better drivers would be safer than much else.
    And, it also goes hand in hand with the planned parenthood family planning option because less drivers equals less pollution. And I say less drivers because if you make it harder to be a driver, you'll have less of them.

  72. "Better" drivers do NOT always prevent the other "bad" drivers from running into you head on on a 2 lane road while driving drunk or rear end you on the road while you are trying to turn left at an intersection... But I agree, in general, safer drivers mean less accident on average.

  73. Back in the olden days things were much better. These young whipper snappers really don't understand...

    Yes, safety matters to all of us and modern cars are dramatically safer. More over, they are dramatically less polluting (in many ways not just CO2).

    As for your poke at the car batteries, sure, everything pound of material we buy adds to the pollution problem. Your 1969 toyota will use more pounds over its life than my 2006 Prius. The difference will be your pounds will come from gasoline and my pounds will come from a battery.

  74. So let's walk through why this article is daft.
    1) CO2, False Logic. Prius is actually much better than what most people drive.
    2) Drive less, False choice, can buy a Prius and drive less
    3) China. Outside sphere of control
    4) Pets. False choice. Has nothing to do with the Prius.
    5) Family Planning. False choice, Has nothing to do with the Prius.

    Really bad article from the title on down to the defense of gas-guzzlers at the end.

  75. Well said. It's the logic of a man who writes about green vehicles but doesn't really care about the subject.

  76. 1) they can drive a Leaf or a plugin hybrid..
    2) Buy a plugin car and drive less.
    3) China, at least China has 1-child policy where India's population growth is few times faster than China's. (It took China 20 years to go from 1.2Bilion to almost 1.4Billion. It took India the same time to go from ~700 million to today's 1.2 Billion). According to UN study, China's population is at least considered as "stable" instead of "high growth"...
    4) Pets cost unnecessary load to the economy and resources.
    5) The point is family planning will make a large difference in terms of global CO2 emission than just buying a Prius...

  77. The real issue is that most people who drive a Prius are not doing so "to save the planet." There are some, don't get me wrong. But most people just want a car that gets great fuel economy, is high-tech, quiet, and extremely reliable. That is what a Prius gets you. And it doesn't cost any more money than most other similarly equipped vehicles.

  78. I agree with "fuel economy and extremely reliable", borderline on "quiet". Disagree on "high tech". Its hybrid technology is fairly low tech to keep the cost down...

  79. that's the point. for the cost of some EV, you could buy 2 or 3 x Prius, which would get you much more energy and environmental benefits than an EV.

  80. So, now cost is part of it?

    Why buy a Prius C when you can save $8,000 and buy a Yaris which is what the Prius C is based on?

    $8,000 is enough to lease you a 3KW solar system for 20 years...

    While you are at it... throw away your Prius and ride a bike and walk. And car pool whenever you can..

    Stop making up silly excuses for a slow (minivan like-According to John Briggs) car.

  81. Also, stop making up lies. The only EV that would cost 2 or 3x of a similar equipped Prius is the Tesla (unless you want to include Toyota's eRAV4). All other EVs cost less than 2x the similar equipped Prius when you fact in the rebates.

    At the end of the day, your Prius still use oil. How is that BP oil spill working out for the Gulf? Short memory?

  82. So, the point is that it is "low tech" but cheap then?

    Okay, we agree now. Prius is low tech. Stop trying to make it sound like an advanced car when it is NOT. It is designed to be cheap transportation.

  83. @Xialong Li.. what's with you? You are now arguing with yourself.

  84. I was just pointing out that Prius is designed to be slow (efficient in its own slow way), cheap interior, cheap to make (low tech). A cheap transportation that still uses gas...

  85. @Xiaolong Li.."Its hybrid technology is fairly low tech to keep the cost down"...Compared to what? The Volt?
    You just cannot accept the two cars are designed for two different outcomes and at different price structures.You place the Volt on a pedestal while deriding the Prius at every opportunity when you own car is inferior to the Tesla model S in performance and efficiency.

  86. Do I need to remind you again on how the Volt works? I think I already did that. Apparently, the "self claimed" Volt engineers didn't even know about how it works...

    Anyway, Volt is on a "pedestal" b/c it is more advanced than anything else out there. There are NO other "EREV" out there. To me, the EREV concept is the best thing so far before we have a full electric infrasture. Tesla is an awesome EV. But it is a dead brick once it goes beyond its radius. Most places can't charge it fast enough to make it useful. Prius on the other hand can't operate in pure EV mode like the Volt and has inferior performance. Volt is the best of both world.

    I said that Volt is the best performaning EV under $45k and an EV with extended range.

  87. 1. If you are going to drive a gasoline car - a Prius puts out half the emissions as a regular gasoline car per mile and is one of the cleanest gas powered cars in the U.S market. Electric cars that get their electricity from fossil fuel/coal-oil burning power plants generate more carbon dioxide per mile than a Prius. It takes about 1.33 kilowatts of power to push 1.00 kilowatt of power into your home. The EV battery recharging is only about 80% efficient. It takes 1.66 kwh from the power plant to charge your EV with 1 kwh of battery power. A 4mile/kwh EV uses 20.75 kwh (from the power plant) to travel the same 50 miles a Prius gets with one gallon of gas.

  88. Very interesting especially #4 in regards to life styles and sustainable living. In 2006 the UNEP chairman said the single most thing we can do to cut CO2 emissions is to eat less meat.

    The Vegan Times even said that being a Vegan and driving a Hummer has less environmental impact than driving a Prius and following a typical American diet.

    For those that doubt this. (I did at first) Try one of the better carbon calculators (like and you will be surprised.

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