Don't be mis-lead with regard to the pollution factor of nuclear-powered steam-generated electricity.
The workers that mine the nuclear fuel burn a lot of fossil fuels getting to and from the mines, the equipment that transports and process the nuclear fuel also burn a lot of fossil fuel, and where the fossil fuel is processed using hydroelectric generated power, all that power is diverted away from consumers that then use mostly fossil-fuel generated electricity.
Additionally, the radioactive dust generated during the mining operations is certainly 'pollution' that would not have otherwise ben introduced into our otherwise breathable air and drinkable water.
Whe a nuclear power plant is constructed it requires more fossil fuel to build than any other form of power plant construction.
Once the nuclear fuel is spent, it becomes toxic waste forever, which in-turn is just another form of pollution. The machinery, manpower, and transportation of the waste also consumes massive amounts of fossil fuels.
Concerns about a hybrid's true mileage w/r to power generating costs are valid. but I suspect to be partially specious. I'm 63 and do not recall any mainstream conversation that included this topic in the past. Yes, it is part of the overall calculation but we should include the fact that electrical power transfer has much lower pollution that ICEs with tuneups, fuel spills, etc. and the power source is concentrated, so pollution control can be centralized, not distributed (I've lived in vehicle inspection states; what a farce that was!).
Similar to the hubbub about dying birds after the wind farm gets built: no concern before about starlings and kestrels before, but now! They are prime targets on the radar; how self-serving. Remove the big blades and forget about all the dying birds.
Having said that, a self-contained hybrid uses no more directly generated power than an ICE does; this is a separate discussion.
I am on my second 2nd generation Prius (the first was totaled in a serious accident) and have never felt I gave up size/convenience/safety for efficiency. In fact, the protection my wife and I had in that accident from the car's design convinced me to buy it again. Of course, my commute is all city driving (roughly 50 mi./day) so I get in the low 50s MPG consistently. The only time it drops below 50 is on the expressway at 75 MPH.
I paid about $25K 4 years ago for it. After 80K miles I've only had to replace the electronics cooling pump (an apparent weak spot in the Prius) with no noticeable degradation in the efficiency of the drive train.
Assuming that Toyota has kept the quality and design at their traditionally high levels (with a notable exceptions dealing with uncontrolled acceleration) this Prius c could be a game changer for the market. As gas prices are possibly going to exceed $4/gal. this year, my first car seems to be looking to be a better and better choice (and its paid off so no monthly car payments!).
I still love my 3 year old Prius. It has the same pickup/acceleration as my V6 Camery and costs less than 7 cents a mile for fuel. It's very quiet, especially compared to my Venza which costs about 20 cents per mile. The only non-normal service I've needed in 3 years is the drivers floor matt replacement.
I work for Industries for the blind and did a sound test with a bunch of our employess to see if my car was a safety hazard. I had them point at me as I drove around the parking lot. Despite the engine not running, they all could hear the tires on the pavement and knew exactly where I was. Our blind people can often 'see' far better than our sighted people. Sighted paople tend to not be aware of their surroundings.
It will be interesting to compare the specs on the new Prius to the old. Being designed for city driving, how well will it accelerate and perform at 75 mph on our freeways?
Rob, I don't have the figures in front of me, but the cost to charge was extermely low dompared to gasoline.
When figuring out the environmental impact from electricity production, you need to average the polution output over all the sources. For example, in Illinois, where I am now, we get much of our electricity from nuclear. We are also using renewable resources. Also, when looking at gasoline most people do not include the polution generated in transporting the oil, refining and transporting the gasoline. They just look at the burn products. So, if you are going to include the products of electriciity production for electric cars, you need to include all of those when looking at gasoline.
Another thing about using electricity for vehicles is that the equation can change over time without the owner of the car doing anything.
Rob: Last year, Consumer Reports published a study comparing hybrids to non-hybrids to determine if there's a payback period, and if so, how long it would take. Here's a synopsis from the NY Times: "A car buyer who lays out an extra $6,200 extra to buy the hybrid version of the Lexus RX will get the money back in gas savings within five years, according to Consumer Reports magazine, but only if gasoline averages $8.77 a gallon."
Second vehicle? The Prius is a very capable first / only car. When I was shopping for wheels, I wanted to buy an efficient and possibly electric car, so I considered EVs and the (original) Insight, but with a family and occasional trips around the SF Bay and even across California, neither EV nor the two-seater Insight were the best choice as only vehicle, but a second hand Prius was a very good choice, giving me less than $1000 per year write-off and saving approx $1600 per year in buying less fuel... Two years later I found an affordable EV and have driven that as second car for my daily commute...
The Prius is a car that is much larger than it looks. It can truly seat 5 normal adults and I have regularly received surprised comments from people joining me for their first ride in a Prius that they were expecting much less space inside. Also the silent ride was a surprising feature. Power was sufficient to climb the steepest grades in the area, so I never felt the desire to buy anything bigger and less efficient.
To prove the internal space in the Prius: even though you can't fold the rear seats down (no access to the trunk space from inside the car due to battery positioning) I could transport a queen size wood-frame futon inside the Prius and still take a passenger for the ride...
Rob, you make a good point -- but based on the article, this is not a plug-in hybrid, so the electricity to charge the battery is ultimately generated by burning gasoline, not coal or gas.
To Chuck's point, the Prius C is shorter than the standard Prius, but is 6 inches longer than the Yaris. And it's a lot longer than the 1990 Ford Festiva which I learned to drive in. What constitutes a "small car" is a matter of perspective.
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