April 3, 2006

Energy costs per mile don’t favour hybrids, report says

Brandon, Oregon – Driving a hybrid costs more in terms of overall energy consumed than comparable non-hybrid vehicles, reports CNW Marketing Research Inc., which released the result of data collected over two years. The data looked at the energy necessary to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle, from initial concept to scrappage, and included such minutia as plant-to-dealer fuel costs, employee driving distances, electricity usage per pound of material used in each vehicle, and hundreds of other variables.

The company translated the data into “dollars per lifetime mile”, or energy cost per mile driven. The most energy-expensive vehicle sold in the U.S. in calendar year 2005 was the Maybach, at $11.58 per mile, while the least expensive was the Scion xB, at 48 cents. (All prices in U.S. dollars.)

The research showed that driving a hybrid vehicle cost more in terms of overall energy consumed; the Honda Accord Hybrid showed an energy cost per mile of $3.29, while the conventional Accord was $2.18, or about 50 per cent more energy over the vehicle’s lifetime. The reasons include the manufacture, replacement and disposal of such items as batteries, electric materials, lighter weight materials and complexity of the power package.

The research also showed that SUVs did not place as poorly as expected; while the industry average of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 was $2.28 per mile, the Hummer H3 was only $1.94 per mile, lower than all currently-offered hybrids and the Honda Civic, which was $2.42 per mile.

“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 CNW president Art Spinella. “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. We believe this kind of data is important in a consumer’s selection of transportation. Basing purchase decisions solely on fuel economy or vehicle size does not get to the heart of the energy usage issue.”

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