Value of the hybrid car: The future is green….and its not the environment.

Preserving and saving the environment throughout the years has quickly become a  widespread mentality amongst local communities and certainly hitting the transportation industry by storm. With the big car industries clashing heads to pump out the newest, shiniest and most efficient hybrid cars on the market, society may feel some sort of self-righteous obligation to stray off path from the classic gas guzzling monstrosities and lean towards the more economically friendly electric cars. But this path may be lined with fine print and discerning information that many are misinformed about and not ready to accept.

2007-toyota-prius-white

The clean background of this Prius Hybrid adds a somewhat false pretense that it’s environmental safe, don’t you think so?

With the Toyota Prius Hybrid being the third most sold car world wide, just lagging behind the Ford Focus in second place and the Toyota Corolla holding the World Cup in first, its astonishing to see just how far the eco-friendly concepts have gone in the past decade. I guess you could say the electric cars has gone a long way from Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb in the late 1870’s, but who would have thought that an innovation that was meant to help the environment could actually be more damaging than its modern counterpart, the gasoline fuelled car.

Isn’t the whole point of Hybrid vehicles to reduce environmental CO2  levels and save you money on gas?

According to a study commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, the pollution produced by factories that make the lithium and nickel batteries to power hybrid cars give them a larger carbon footprint than gas powered vehicles until its travelled more than 80 000 miles. Now considering the average american drives 15 000 miles per year, it would take almost 6 years to counter the carbon emissions produced by a gas guzzler, which sounds a little counter intuitive since reducing CO2 emissions is usually a main determinant in purchasing a hybrid vehicle anyways, right?

CO2

CO2 emission comparison of hybrid, natural and gas powered cars (2008)

Also, a very well hidden fact by the manufactures of these vehicles (kudos to you) is that the overall combustion cycle to power these beasts produce just as much carbon as that old rusty Volkwagens your grandmother has driven since World War II. Not to mention the need to replace the overly priced (in the several thousands of dollars range) and technologically advanced battery every 100 000 miles because of the labour intensive nature of its use.

So, electric cars are actually not eco-friendly?

Its a well known fact that lithium, a common element used in electric batteries, is an extremely rare metal and fate of these commodities usually ends up in landfills and dump sites due to the limited facilities that can utilize and recycle this element. Currently, only one U.S. based company, Toxco Inc., is able to recycle all sizes of lithium powered batteries and the amount of batteries that make it there is far too minimal. With the high turnover rate of lithium batteries from hybrid cars and low recycling capabilities of our country, its quite transparent that our initial cause is quickly turning into our old dilemma; environmental pollution.

Well, in the grand scheme of things, hybrid vehicles do have a lower carbon emission than regular gas fuelled cars over the long haul, so producing them now might pollute our precious air supply a little more than many people may have known, but its a grandiose step towards providing a cleaner society for future generations at a cost of our own.

That doesn’t seem too bad, I still believe in saving the world – one car at a time!

Not so fast Sherlock, there are still many aspects of this fairly new technology that has not been explored and fully understood. Hybrid technology is still very new and expensive, to say the least. With new technology phasing through our economy every passing year, this makes it easier to produce new and more technologically advanced parts that can replace and quickly deteriorate the value of an older hybrid model. Its track record of reliability is still relatively unknown compared to its counterpart linking all the way back to the 1890’s when the first car was produced by the Duryea brothers. Just ask this disgruntled customer of what he thinks about his brand spanking new Fisker Karma, a hybrid sports car that cost him a little over $100,000.

Bad Karma: Our Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid breaks down

Also, financial experts argue that while the price of a hybrid is significantly higher than a regular car, the vehicle only offers marginally better fuel economy. So, before you go buy that brand new hybrid car fresh off the assembly line with the pungent scent of new leather still lingering in the interior, make sure your wallet can handle the 20-30% increase in price compared to a regular gas guzzler. After all, you didn’t think that saving the environment would come cheap, did you?

Now that’s a game changer!

In summary of this new information, I believe that eco-friendly vehicles need improvements in just about every aspect of its existence. From the intuitive believe and false pretenses that hybrid cars are actually eco-friendly all the way to the copious amounts of money you will be spending on this relatively new technology and its never-ending need for replacement batteries. And as always, state of the art technology has proven to be a double edged sword, yet again. Either cutting into your wallet or just mere interest in being on top of the newest gadgets and gizmos on the transportation market, that cut is gonna leave you with a deep gash and a bad taste in your mouth. But lets not forget, all of this was to boost our self-righteous ego to be environmentalists, right?

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