[Coral-List] In defense of hybrids

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Thu Jan 10 15:11:18 EST 2008

Hi All:

I tried to ignore Mike Risk's assault on hybrid cars, but after reading
Dana's reply, I thought I would support her defense of hybrids.  As a
proud (and loving) owner of a Prius for the past 3+ years, I have driven
45,000 miles averaging ca. 45 mpg.  Compared to the 25 mpg I was getting
from my previous car, this is a savings of 800 gallons of fuel (and CO2
produced) over the past 3 years, at a savings of ca. $2400 (at
$3/gallon).  I paid $22k for my car including taxes etc, so with fuel
savings, that brings cost down to under $20k for a 4 door car, that
drives great (I've migrated over from stick shift), seats 5 people
comfortably (tall men marvel at back seat legroom), has fold down seats
when you need to lug large stuff around, and fits into parking spaces
designed for compact cars.  I LOVE my car and we are talking about
getting another one. I'd like to convert it to all electric once the
warranty expires, or maybe by then all electric versions of it will be
on the market.  Walking or bicycling everywhere is not an option for me
and we have no public transportation system where I live.  If everyone
in my town drove a hybrid we'd be a much better place to live (actually,
out town government started replacing their feet of public vehicles with
hybrids, Prius for now).


Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Coral Reef Research Group
UNCW-Center for Marine Science 
5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409
Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
Cell:  (910)200-3913
email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of
Dana.Williams at noaa.gov
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2008 9:10 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] What can SCIENTISTS do??

Hi listers
I realize this discussion is not simply about hybrids but I recently
bought a hybrid and did a fair amount of research before making that
decision so I feel the need to address some misconceptions. In addition
to the solid RMI + Pac Inst rebuttals I would add one from
hybridcenter.org a project of the Union of Concerned Scientists (found
And while I would not necessarily look to a manufacturer for full
disclosure, Toyota responds to an op ed piece in the washington post
I had no illusions that simply buying a fuel efficient partial zero
emission vehicle would 'save the planet 'and I will agree that they are
not 'the answer' but they are a step in the right direction and and I
feel that choices we make as consumers are the most powerful means of
encouraging and accelerating these changes. 
Unlike the traditional car battery the hybrid NiMH battery it is not
routinely replaced. The Prius batteries are warrantied for 8 years or
100k miles (150k in some states) but are reported to be substantially
outlasting the warranty in terms of mileage. I think it is also
important to add that hybrid batteries are expensive (as all
environmentally expensive things should be) and thus are unlikely to end
up in a landfill-  Toyota pays a bounty ($200) for dealers to recover
them from damaged vehicles and they are being rebuilt by some
enterprising  people- a practice that will surely become more common
with demand. In fact in accordance with a 2005 automobile recycling law
in Japan most every part of the prius is made to be recycled:
http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/environment/recycle/battery/index.html. There
are recycling centers nation-wide in Japan something that could happen
here in the US with some incentives. 
As to the comment that consumers find them lacking- this may be true
financially as suggested, I certainly did not buy it to save money-
especially since there are no more tax credits for the Prius, but the
prices are expected to come down in 2009 with their next major rebuild
and will also come down as more hybrids hit the road. In every other way
this car (can't speak for other hybrids) is not lacking. For consumer
reports the Prius is ranked the most reliable (along with 'best fuel
economy' and 'best-loved'- not sure what best loved means but I do love
my car!) car in 2007. 
In comparison to my last car (a reliable and efficient 1997 Subaru
hatchback) I have cut my fuel consumption (based on my real mpg not epa
estimates) and my CO2 emissions (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/sbs.htm)
by half and the subaru was in a smaller size class than the prius- in
these respects it is far from lacking. I am not trying to sell anyone a
hybrid but I will say that there are a lot of myths about hybrids out
there and if you have not been in one or owned one you should keep an
open mind. 
As to what we can do, I think a major stumbling block to making
environmentally responsible choices is the misconception that they
necessarily come with sacrifices in performance, standards of living,
comfort, convenience etc. and not spreading these misconceptions would
help! I was thrilled to see the plans for greener choices at the
upcoming ICRS and have no concerns that the meeting will suffer in any
respect. I hope it sets the standard for future meetings. 

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