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Common Prius Myths

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A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on. - Mark TwainEdit

Almost from the beginning, hybrid skeptics have been out to get the Prius with criticism from benign to total fabrications. Worse, once released there is an 'echo chamber' effect by those who do not fact check their sources. So we continue to hear echos of these tall tales over and over again:

  • Prius is unprofitable - An early question asked in September 1998, "How many Prius must you sell to make a profit?" This is part of a myth that the Prius is a loss-leader to give Toyota a marketing advantage over other car makers. Yet Toyota has expanded their hybid architecture to the Highlander and Lexus brands and sold over 1 million in just the USA alone from 2001 to 2011.
  • Prius doesn't get EPA mileage - The NHW11 model was EPA rated at "52 City / 45 Hwy" but users at the EPA web site, www.fueleconomy.gov, are reporting composite mileage of ~45 MPG. So in September 2008, the EPA added more tests, cold weather and higher speeds to reclassify it as "42 City / 41 Hwy." The owner mileage did not change at midnight between the old and new EPA sticker. The problem is the EPA is being treated as something beyond a guide-line, something that can be used to select relatively more efficient vehicles over less efficient.
  • Prius battery nickel destroyed Sudbury Canada - this complete fabrication appeared in the Sunday Mail but unlike the USA, Canada and the UK have libel laws with teeth. Upon threat of a lawsuit, the Sunday Mail withdrew the article[1] after it escaped to the Internet. A corollary is that shipping nickel from the mine through processing consumes huge amounts of energy negating the Prius mileage savings. However, Sudbury's mining environmental problems occurred 30 years before the first Prius rolled off the line. At maximum, the Prius traction battery is less than 1% of the mine output with most of the nickel going to stainless steel and consumer batteries in cell phones, power tools, and other hand-held products.
  • Hummer has lower, lifetime, total cost-per-mile than the Prius - this comes from a flawed report by CNW Marketing that claimed hybrid cars had a higher cost per mile than their non-hybrid equivalent. But this was achieved by understating the annual miles of the hybrid versus the non-hybrid. In the CNW Marketing world, someone who owned a regular Camry and a hybrid-Camry, would choose to drive the gasser Camry on trips instead of the more fuel efficient hybrid.
  • Prius is so quiet it is a hazard to the blind, pedestrians, and bicyclists - sad to say, this resulted in signing into law S.841 in January 2011 that will mandate noise makers on all hybrids and electric vehicles. The most optimistic interpretation is these noise makers will make the Prius just as lethal as existing gasser and diesel vehicles. There is no Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing a Prius hazard. In fact, pickup trucks and SUVs are known to be more hazardous to pedestrians. Worse, the NHTSA released DOT HS 811 204 that uses notably weak statistical data to make a narrow claim that has been misrepresented as "twice as dangerous."
  • "Clean diesel" is just as good as a Prius - comes from a couple of 'road tests' such as the "Green Human" Portland-to-Portand, infotainment drive of a Jetta TDI and Prius. These tests are run in cold weather and highway speeds only, the results of it only to find that the end gas mileage after 8,000 miles was within 1 MPG without noticing the Jetta TDI is a compact car and the Prius a fullsize, sedan.
    Edmunds did a comparison of the 3rd gen Prius and a Jetta TDI and in every segment, the Prius beat the Jetta TDI in mileage. The Prius also beat the Jetta TDI in CO2 impact and fuel cost.[2]
  • Gas savings will never pay for the car - so when has a leather seat, moon roof, fancy wheels ever had a payback to the owner? But most of these analysis assume 15,000 miles per year, the average mileage the EPA reports. But half of all owners get less than 15,000 miles and half get over. It is the road warriors who are driving 20,000 or more miles per year who get the fuel savings payoff. These owners are never profiled but taxi cab companies have reported substantial savings.

It is hard to believe the extent that hybrid skeptics will go to distort and just lie about the Prius. But when has that stopped others in the past?

- Bob Wilson and cwerdna

ReferencesEdit

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