Wait, what's really more efficient?
April 19, 2006 4:26 PM   Subscribe

A new study suggests that, over the course of its lifetime, a Hummer H3 has a lower energy cost per mile than all currently offered hybrid vehicles.
posted by driveler (91 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Wake me when there's some kind of peer review on this thing.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:29 PM on April 19, 2006


And more to the point, Hybrids are an extremely new technology. (compared to the internal combustion engine) The point is that if enough people buy them for the better fuel consumption, then they will become better made and less expensive.

The same basic thing is true for any new technology. It's just not a heated debate when you're talking about, say, the failure rate of first-gen DVD players versus current ones.
posted by InnocentBystander at 4:34 PM on April 19, 2006


That's pretty amazing, considering that a Hummer H3 has a higher energy cost per mile than EVERYTHING.
posted by shmegegge at 4:38 PM on April 19, 2006


CNW Marketing Research Inc. spent two years collecting data

Well, there's a name I trust. I mean I'm sure a marketing company wouldn't lie to me. I'm sure this wasn't sponsored by, oh, the company that makes Hummers, just for instance.
posted by lumpenprole at 4:39 PM on April 19, 2006


Oh and by the way, the CNW website (whose navigation bar is loud and blurry) describes themselves as this:

"The auto industry's research center"

An unbiased source, to be sure.
posted by lumpenprole at 4:41 PM on April 19, 2006


Shouldn't CNW marketing research be...you know...researching marketing instead of vehicle energy consumption?

Buncha slackers.
posted by Bugbread at 4:43 PM on April 19, 2006


Even more suspiciously, they claim that an H3 has lower cost-per-mile than a *standard* Honda Accord. I would buy the argument that building say, a new factory to make batteries would (temporarily) increase the cost of a Hybrid, but how many bazillion Accords are out there?
posted by hupp at 4:43 PM on April 19, 2006


There's no info anywhere on the assumptions made when calculating the so called 'dust-to-dust' costings, such as the longevity of the individual vehicles. If for exmple, they assumme a H3 lasts for 30 or 40 years, but a Honda hybrid only 6 or 7, then, yh, maybe their maths works out.

But try as I might, searching their website reveals fuck all.

So, er, no, I'm not convinced. Press release by industry insider does not make news, nor much of a FPP. Need a little more scepticism round these parts.

Meh.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:45 PM on April 19, 2006


Here's the top 10 (from here). You can see that most vehicles you would expect to better are, in fact, much better than the H3. I too wonder why the Accord is so bad.
Scion xB ($0.48 per mile)
Ford Escort (0.57 per mile)
Jeep Wrangler ($0.60 per mile)
Chevrolet Tracker ($0.69 per mile)
Toyota Echo ($0.70 per mile)
Saturn Ion ($0.71 per mile)
Hyundai Elantra ($0.72 per mile)
Dodge Neon ($0.73 per mile)
Toyota Corolla ($0.73 per mile)
Scion xA ($0.74 per mile)
posted by smackfu at 4:46 PM on April 19, 2006


And Nick Naylor recently discovered that smoking can retard the effects of Parkinson's Disease!
posted by Happy Monkey at 4:48 PM on April 19, 2006


ey, i trust the data. i think there's something to be said for the more typical (heavier) alloy bodies and the mass production of the vehicle for several world militaries.
posted by trinarian at 4:48 PM on April 19, 2006


There is

a) no information on the method of experiment
b) no information on the source of data
c) there is ...nothing

except the suggestion H3 is "energy efficient"

It is quite clear they are betting most of the consumers are idiots that believe any lie big enough and that is repeated to them enough times, like Mission Accomplished.
posted by elpapacito at 4:50 PM on April 19, 2006


The premise of the study is sound enough: energy efficiency involves more than just how much gas a vehicle guzzles. But I'm skeptical that hybrids lag in energy efficiency as much as this study claims. And the Hummer vs. Accord gap is just bizarre.
posted by brain_drain at 4:51 PM on April 19, 2006


dash_slot- "nor much of a FPP"

People seriously need to start understanding the difference between reporting a piece of information and agreeing with it. I can report that a large number of people believe that GWB is the great-grandchild of Satan, but think completely otherwise. The FPP was plenty fine as a report, and I doubt that the poster assumed 100% truthfulness to it.

Or, you could go watch Fox News.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:52 PM on April 19, 2006


trinarian, the H3 is not a military vehicle. It's built on a Colorado/Canyon truck frame, so i wouldn't count on it having heavier alloys than a standard car.
posted by quin at 5:01 PM on April 19, 2006


Kickstart70 : "I can report that a large number of people believe that GWB is the great-grandchild of Satan, but think completely otherwise."

I think the argument here is that we're not dealing with a situation where a lot of people, or a significant person/people, or anything of the like, think that something which is untrue is true. If that were so, I'd agree it's good material for an FPP. Nor are we dealing with someone that only a few unimportant people think, but which is so outlandish as to be interesting (Time Cube, or whathaveyou). Instead, we're dealing with a marketing research company producing marketing research that, it is suspected, is tilted in favour of the winner(s) of the research. That's not particularly good material for an FPP, whether the poster agrees with it or not.
posted by Bugbread at 5:04 PM on April 19, 2006


HAHA!

Conservation is a joke on you!

Use the Earth till it's done then we all party and die!
posted by HTuttle at 5:05 PM on April 19, 2006


I think it's kind of fun trying to figure out how they made their report match what they were paid to do. Lots of stuff to pick at. Given that, I'm a bit disappointed in this case that the full report wasn't released.
posted by smackfu at 5:06 PM on April 19, 2006


HTuttle : "Use the Earth till it's done then we all party and die!"

I dunno, the Earth may not have that long, but in the absence of war or other big-murder scenarios, I suspect it will last longer than I will.
posted by Bugbread at 5:09 PM on April 19, 2006


#1: This is a public relations press release, designed SOLELY to give potential H3 drivers an emotional free pass on their energy consumption, and something to wave in the faces of people who claim the H3 purchase was wasteful. This is independent of the study itself, and whether or not it is valid.

#2: As for the study itself, if we assume that the high initial costs for construction and engineering are significant contributors to the hybrid energy usage, then a new study might to well to consider the comparable costs of a hybrid produced at the same volume as the Accord, and without the initial costs -- essentially, a study of "if the same number of Accords and Hybrids were sold and driven ten years from now, what would the lifetime costs be." After all, if they want to talk long-term costs, it should be truly long-term.

#3: All that aside, it does not surprise me in the slightest that the costs are so disparate -- the initial costs for hybrids has been HUGE. Just like the initial costs for standard gasoline-powered cars once was. So the study may very well be valid.

#4: I already wanted an xB as my next car; this just reinforces my desire. Fun, lightweight, roomy, and economical -- and now available in green (saw one on the street.) xBBlue -- heh.

That's pretty amazing, considering that a Hummer H3 has a higher energy cost per mile than EVERYTHING

Except, one would presume, an H2 or H1...
posted by davejay at 5:11 PM on April 19, 2006


Use the Earth till it's done then we all party and die!

No, then we all party and drive.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:11 PM on April 19, 2006


This sounds similar to how Microsoft invented Total Cost of Ownership and commissioned studies to say that this TCO was higher for Linux, after Linux started eating away at their business because it was cheaper.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:14 PM on April 19, 2006


It's the country-fried truck endorsed by a clown
posted by isopraxis at 5:16 PM on April 19, 2006


(Which is not to say that TCO wasn't an important concept and a valuable discussion to have, just that this reminds me of it)
posted by -harlequin- at 5:17 PM on April 19, 2006


Heh... you people sure are a sensitive bunch.
For all the bitching about how little evidence and data the report provides, you really should back up your assertions with something more than "I'm suspicious" or "it does not make sense".

But hey, feel free to feel righteous.
posted by c13 at 5:20 PM on April 19, 2006


I don't know, bugbread. I saw this post as attempting to call attention to a bogus study, which I thought was interesting enough for the front page. I don't even think it's the first time posts like this have been made. ymmv, of course.
posted by shmegegge at 5:28 PM on April 19, 2006


Let us not forget that lower COST of energy doesn't always mean LESS energy or CLEANER energy, it can just indicate CHEAPER energy (like the fact that coal power is "cheaper" than wind power).
posted by twjordan at 5:29 PM on April 19, 2006


I have been waiting for this. SUVs are what makes money for the manufacturers, but Hybrids have begun to get the buzz, lately. Solution? Commission a "total cost of ownership" type study so that people who feel guilty about buying an SUV can escape that feeling. Let's face it, those are the people this "research study" was written for, and they're not going to go too far to question the results. The auto industry knows that the story will be picked up and plastered all over the traditional media(wanna bet it's on Fox right now?) if there's even a hint of impartiality.

Meanwhile the CEO of Exxon retires with the largest golden parachute in history, $140,000 a day.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:31 PM on April 19, 2006


Yeah! Suspicion of marketing firms is just silly... I, for one, know they have my best interests at heart.
posted by pompomtom at 5:32 PM on April 19, 2006


you really should back up your assertions with something more than "I'm suspicious" or "it does not make sense"

What, you'd have us accept all press releases from marketing firms shilling for various industries at face value?

Tell you what. You can adopt that strategy. I'll stick to my scepticism. And we'll see which of us gets assfucked more often.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:35 PM on April 19, 2006


c13:
ou really should back up your assertions with something more than "I'm suspicious"

An H3 costs twice as much as a hybrid to buy, and gets half the mileage. This goes against what (little) is suggested by the article - that the H3 has lower energy and materials costs in manufacture, etc, since lower energy and materials costs in manufacture are reflected in the retail price.

That leaves cost of maintenance as the most likely "dark matter" cost that they think will outweigh everything else, and as we have already seen everywhere, the maintenance costs of hybrids, being largely unknown, has been consistantly vastly over-estimated by competitors and their marketing, when you compare what they say with what the preliminary data actually suggests. There is no indication that this is not more of the same, and some indication that it is, so the weight of evidence currently suggests bullshit.

My guess: they're taking the lifetime of the vehicle to be something massive, eg 40 years, and then factoring a battery replacement on the hybrids at a higher than real-world frequency and at a higher than real-world price that doesn't account for the dropping costs of these things. But really, there is so much scope here for tomfoolerly that it's pointless to speculate. There are four score and more asses from which these numbers could be pulled, and since they're not revealing which one, I'm not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:36 PM on April 19, 2006


Two things need to be noted:
1. cars using less gas create fewer emissions to harm the environment.
2. Cars in the US seldom or never give an accurate report on mileage.
posted by Postroad at 5:37 PM on April 19, 2006


shmegegge : "I don't know, bugbread. I saw this post as attempting to call attention to a bogus study, which I thought was interesting enough for the front page."

Ok, that makes sense.
posted by Bugbread at 5:47 PM on April 19, 2006


from elsewhere on their website:

"Will a V8 fit in a 1976 MG? CNW needed a new vehicle for corporate displays and promotion"
posted by CynicalKnight at 5:53 PM on April 19, 2006


This goes against what (little) is suggested by the article - that the H3 has lower energy and materials costs in manufacture, etc, since lower energy and materials costs in manufacture are reflected in the retail price.


Really? So those baseball cards that sell for a few hundred dollars are made of iridium?

Look, I'm not attempting to defend the H3. I'm just pointing out an inconsistency that I see pretty often.
posted by c13 at 5:54 PM on April 19, 2006


I wasn't inclined to "give them the benefit of the doubt" until I read the comments here. Given the spectacularly irrational character of the majority reaction, I'm going to go ahead and assume it's all true.
posted by sfenders at 5:59 PM on April 19, 2006


I don't know. I question the study, but I also question the knee-jerk reaction against it. Car batteries are sulfuric acid and lead, pretty much, and that's no good (mostly the lead). While I don't think we should all drive SUV's, it does cost a LOT of energy to make a new car, and I think there are some hidden environmental costs of hybrids that aren't always considered. There are obvious methodological opportunities for sneakiness. Another thing to consider about hybrids is that people end up driving a bit differently. Go easy so you run on electric more, etc. Since hybrid isn't just a drop-in solution, I think you have to consider driving habits with a conventional fuel-efficient car.

Hybrids are a step in the right direction, but plenty hyped, too.
posted by oxonium at 6:00 PM on April 19, 2006


c13:

Now you're being silly.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:02 PM on April 19, 2006


Rather than reason my way through the veracity of the study, I believe in whatever is opposite the majority opinion of an internet website.
posted by basicchannel at 6:06 PM on April 19, 2006


This is clear evidence of something I've always suspected, that Hummers are made of cheaper material than anything else on the road....
posted by wendell at 6:08 PM on April 19, 2006


I also question the knee-jerk reaction against it. Car batteries are sulfuric acid and lead

I've also wondered about the overall construction and replacement/disposal costs of the kinds of high-power batteries that go into hybrids. They're certainly not made out of sugar and spice and everything nice. Put me in the "interesting article; needs peer review; a fine FPP post" camp.
posted by frogan at 6:12 PM on April 19, 2006


Car batteries are sulfuric acid and lead, pretty much, and that's no good (mostly the lead)

The starter batteries in all cars, yes. The drive batteries in Hybrids, no -- most use Nickle Metal Hydride battery packs.

My guess: they're taking the lifetime of the vehicle to be something massive, eg 40 years, and then factoring a battery replacement on the hybrids at a higher than real-world frequency and at a higher than real-world price that doesn't account for the dropping costs of these things.

And yet, I'll bet that while battery costs will rise with inflation (nevermind capacity staying the same), Gas will magically have not.

Hell, over forty years, I'm willing to bet I'd save the cost of the hybrid in tires alone.
posted by eriko at 6:12 PM on April 19, 2006


Quick thought: an H3 is built on an existing platform/model -- so the initial costs of developing the H3 probably don't take into account the initial costs for developing the existing platform/model -- or the factory, since they're built side-by-side -- and so on.

This actually makes sense, because if you start going to the ancestral development/facilities costs, how far back do you really need to go; the entire company's history?

Still, it biases things way in favor of new models on old platforms (like the H3) and away from new models on new platforms and new technologies.
posted by davejay at 6:13 PM on April 19, 2006


davejay, the xB in green is known as Camo, and I believe it was retired in the 2006 mid year model changes, so you might have to get a used one if you're set on the color (new xB's stay on the lot less than a week, so you're not going to find one anywhere without ordering ahead).

I have to echo the "how did they reach this conclusion" people. They must be factoring in something strange, like cargo space. The xB and the xA show a cost per mile difference of $.25 a mile. The xA and the xB share the same engine, transmission, suspension, etc. The only difference in those vehicles, is the taller stance of the xB.

yes, I own an xB, and love it. fun vehicle. don't care if some people consider it ugly. I think every SUV I've ever seen is ugly (and the xB is not an SUV, it's built on a unibody car chasis).
posted by inthe80s at 6:21 PM on April 19, 2006


Really? So those baseball cards that sell for a few hundred dollars are made of iridium?

Actually those baseball cards aren't based on retail pricing. That's technically secondary market pricing (like tickets from a ticket broker or that care bears sleeping bag on ebay that you always wanted but couldn't get) which reflects nostalgic, rarity and scarcity value. Not intrinsic value. Oil isn't expensive because it's made of oil, it's expensive because we *really* want it and it's getting harder (and more expensive) to get it out of the ground.

Quite frankly all too often people hear the word "study" and automatically believe that it was completed in an ethical and scientific matter. Until I can see an abstract, data sets, etc. I will continue to refute this as "fact" (as it isn't, it's a hypothesis).

And I'd really like to know how they figured out that an H3 will even hold up after 40+ years of usage.
posted by raygun21 at 6:23 PM on April 19, 2006


Re: NiMH batteries- Point well taken, my mistake. That said, nickel isn't exactly benign, and the "M" in NiMH can also include Cr and other iffy metals.

Batteries are one of the hidden environmental nasties in everything these days.
posted by oxonium at 6:23 PM on April 19, 2006


this is from CNW's FAQ:
Why don't you do business in Alabama?
We recognize 49 states and the District of Columbia. We do not accept business from Alabama. It'll take more than one beer for any further details.


I'd like to come by and see your operation.
Nope. Our various operations -- call centers, data center, field offices -- are off limits. There's nothing to see and visits are disruptive to getting real work done.

posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 6:25 PM on April 19, 2006


c13:

I think you're confused. When a group claims that its study supports a rather surprising assertion, the burden of proof is on that group to back up its claim. This is especially true if the methods and data of the study are kept secret.

Let me give you an example: Imagine that a food industry marketing group issues a press release showing that "a study" reveals that marshmallow peeps are healthier, in the long run, than fresh vegetables. No details, no methodology, no complete definition of "healthier" -- just "a study."

Now, if we scorned this study, would you come in charging that we were the ones who needed to provide a substantive rebuttal?
posted by argybarg at 6:26 PM on April 19, 2006


Speaking of battery replacement costs, I suspect that that cost could be zero over 40 years (ie you don't replace the battery ever, and so eventually lose the benefits of the hybrid assist, using it as a gas-only car) and it would still get better mileage than the hummer.

I suspect that 40 years down the track, a lot of hybrids will be used exactly like this (judging by the run-down semi-functional state in which people will drive 40 year old cars today, rather than fix them up like new), and I further suspect that this study did not account for this behaviour.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:27 PM on April 19, 2006


An interview with the firm, including what is probably the money quote:
The study includes the energy put into research and development, which Art said is much higher for the hybrid than it is for the ICE. I'd like to see these numbers though. There is still research and development work going into the ICE.

The study uses expected lifetime mileage of the vehicles. Hybrids are only expected to live for 100,000 miles, but trucks are expected to live for 250,000 miles. This influences the $/mile significantly. If a hybrid could be driven 250,000 miles, it would be much more favorable compared to other vehicles.
posted by smackfu at 6:28 PM on April 19, 2006


Actually, I take that back, in 40 years, the price of gas will probably be so high that it's the combustion engine that will be left to rot in ancient hybrids while the electric system is modified to run off some whiz-bang future electric powerplant :)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:29 PM on April 19, 2006


smackfu: So basically, the entire study is garbage right out of the gate. I'm a little taken aback - I thought the slight of hand would have more finesse than that. That's pretty shameless.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:32 PM on April 19, 2006


smackfu: So basically, the entire study is garbage right out of the gate. I'm a little taken aback - I thought the slight of hand would have more finesse than that. That's pretty shameless.

If the study were released as a scientific study and the media were spinning it this way, I'd disagree, but clearly CNW is trying to taint the pool on the idea that SUVs are inefficient and, conversely, that hybrids are efficient. The real environmental gauge would be in petrodollars (since oil's a super-volatile commodity), not some weird "energy dollar" standard based on a clearly biased lifetime estimate (does scientific data on hybrid lifetimes even exist yet?) and with the problem that the technologies for the specialized parts of the hybrid are unusual and the investment for them has yet to experience a fairly inevitable decline in price.

That said, an environmentally sane comparison doesn't even exist until you consider modes of transit other than the commuter vehicle.
posted by graymouser at 6:40 PM on April 19, 2006


Let us not forget that lower COST of energy doesn't always mean LESS energy or CLEANER energy, it can just indicate CHEAPER energy (like the fact that coal power is "cheaper" than wind power). -twjordan

We have a winner!!!!

I remember seeing the hybrids and accords listed as some of the most green vehicles, When viewed from the "Carbon Neutral" point of view... Of course, it costs much more to be Carbon Neutral, hence the higher "cost"...

I like how the research automatically concludes that a lower cost/mile = more environmentally friendly.

Oh, and I also want to know how the Scion xA is nearly twice the cost/mile as the Scion xB, considering that they're built on the same chasis and have the same base configuration (no, they aren't the same car, the xB seems to have more of a "go-go-go" crowd, hence more engine enhancements available, but any enhancements that boost performance USUALLY sacrafice mpg)
posted by hatsix at 6:44 PM on April 19, 2006


oops, I mean that the xA is 50% more than the xB.... the laws of science (and math) be a harsh mistress
posted by hatsix at 6:46 PM on April 19, 2006


Whew, good thing smackfu came along. I was getting tired of the mental effort of maintaining the belief that the H3 was so energy-efficient. Such a relief to go back to having no opinion. Now, somebody please go do a more honest study of this subject.
posted by sfenders at 7:01 PM on April 19, 2006


Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if a hybrid with its batteries, reduced-weight body, and government-mandated extra safety features did have a higher initial embedded energy cost than a tricked-out truck with fake military steel panels bolted on. In terms of carbon though, transferring that energy load from low-efficiency ICEs to high-efficiency central power plants is a win though.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:13 PM on April 19, 2006


I suspect my iMac uses more energy than a Hummer since it's on all day.
posted by disgruntled at 7:15 PM on April 19, 2006


The study uses expected lifetime mileage of the vehicles. Hybrids are only expected to live for 100,000 miles, but trucks are expected to live for 250,000 miles. This influences the $/mile significantly. If a hybrid could be driven 250,000 miles, it would be much more favorable compared to other vehicles.

Taxi driver puts 200,000 miles on his Prius.
posted by disgruntled at 7:23 PM on April 19, 2006


The biggest problem I see with the study is that they equate dollars directly to energy, and then claim the Maybach is the most expensive car per mile. While it may be the most expensive how much of that money just goes back to Mercedes stockholders, or into R&D rather then actual energy production cost? My guess is a lot

Yeah, a Maybach may cost more to drive then an H1, but that certainly doesn’t mean it really uses more fossil fuels during its life time!

Anyway, IMO this whole story is just a bunch of BS.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on April 19, 2006


An SUV like the H3 (which, in actuality, is a normal mid-sized SUV with macho-looking body cladding and big tires) being cheap to make is no surprise at all. Remember all the stories about how Ford and GM got addicted to fast-selling, cheap-to-manufacture SUVs starting in the 90s? This is not really new information.
posted by zsazsa at 7:34 PM on April 19, 2006


And they are talking about the H3, which is the little one basically no less efficient than any other small to mid-size SUV. The H2 would be worse, more like an f-350 and the H1, being totally bad-ass, would be off the charts.
posted by belling at 7:35 PM on April 19, 2006


From disgruntled's link:
The Toyota Highlander and Lexus 400h both currently use lithium ion batteries, which would have an even longer life span.

Weird. LiIon batteries oxidize over just a few years, so no matter how well you treat them, they become useless for high-current applications (they still hold the energy, you just can't get it out since the internal resistance has shot up). I guess they must be doing something different.

The trend for the future would be to eventually do away with batteries all together and move into capacitors.

That would be cool - expensive, but no need to ever replace them, and considerable efficiency gains. OTOH, not so good for some types of DIY hacks to all-electric.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:41 PM on April 19, 2006


KirkJobSluder:
In terms of carbon though, transferring that energy load from low-efficiency ICEs to high-efficiency central power plants is a win though.

Quick note: Hybrids do not transfer the energy load to central power plants, that is what an electric car does. Hybrids reclaim energy that is normally lost due to the inherently inefficient design of the ICE, and then put that energy back into the system, thus lowering the amount of fuel that the ICE needs to get from A to B.

All the energy in a hybrid comes from the gasoline you put in the tank, it's just able to use the gasoline more efficiently that an ICE-only vehicle. (An ICE-only vehicle has 0% energy efficiency when stopped at lights or in traffic with the engine running, and terrible efficiency at moving, since it pours energy into getting the car moving, then dumps all that energy into grinding down brake pads, instead of stopping by putting the energy back in the gas tank to use again to get the car moving again when the light turns green, etc etc.)

That said, people do mod their vehicles to plug into the grid, but that's not common. Yet.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:51 PM on April 19, 2006


Postroad is wrong on one count and half wrong on the other. At least in GM vehicles, the fuel economy calculated by the trip computer is usually good to within 0.5 MPG. I always check the fuel used caculation on cars with trip computers, and find on a fill-up that it is rarely off by more than half a gallon.

As far as engines that use less gasoline hurting the environment less, this is true for CO2, which is pretty much inversely proportional to fuel economy, but false for the smog gases (HC, CO, NOx). What happens there is that yes, the smaller engine without any emission controls produces less of these gases, but that just means that the manufacturer needs to put on less extra hardware to meet the standard. It is very possible that a car with a big V8 could pollute less than a little 4 cylinder econobox (CO2 is not regulated as a pollutant currently, only indirectly via CAFE). Also, an old shitbox with bad rings is worse than 100 modern cars put together.
posted by rfs at 7:57 PM on April 19, 2006


Meanwhile the CEO of Exxon retires with the largest golden parachute in history, $140,000 a day.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:31 PM PST on April 19


Well, I don't have a big problem with oil companies raking in big profits. At all. The more gasoline costs for the average consumer, the harder they'll tend to try to use less. Meanwhile, as the price itself goes up, other energy sources become more viable. Whether those are good or bad is really still up in the air. I won't pretend to know even close to anything about the subject as a whole.

It is really the only reason we're now seeing hybrids gain much popularity at all. This is a good thing. Although alternative technologies in automobiles have been around for a long time, the automakers are now starting to put substantive quantities of them on the road. With that comes innovation, like any other car they sell. What that should hopefully mean for hybrids is smaller/more efficient/lighter batteries. Or capacitors. Or something else, besides a hybrid.
posted by ninjew at 8:06 PM on April 19, 2006


So this is disinformation put out by a group whose intended purpose is disinformation.

The question is why did Yahoo publish it?
posted by 517 at 8:16 PM on April 19, 2006


car and driver = bought and paid for by GM

what a stupid post.
posted by specialk420 at 8:34 PM on April 19, 2006


The question is why did Yahoo publish it?

Because biz.yahoo.com publishes press releases. (Bottom of left column)
posted by dhartung at 8:36 PM on April 19, 2006


Even this nonsensical accounting makes something like an H3 out to be 4x as expensive per mile as a Scion xB. Even with their tortured reasoning, SUVs still suck.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:50 PM on April 19, 2006


So after Googling this company for way too long, I found the following little snippets, which I simply present for your interest:

A widely-covered study about TiVo fast forwarding habits:
Not very scientific
Since the survey was conducted primarily for the auto industry, CNW wasn't terribly scientific in deciding what categories should be surveyed. Mr. Spinella said 14 different categories were decided as a result of discussions with CNW staffers.

For instance, telecommunications wasn't listed; nor were movie companies. "I bet movies would rate high -- consumers would want to watch them," Mr. Rothstein said.

He added that that he's concerned over the survey's methodology. "It's a little bit loaded," he said. "You are only measuring part of their viewing habits; you are not looking at overall viewing pattern."


CNW Survey: Is it racism or something else?
Searching for a white-collar technical job on the web? Make sure your name sounds Japanese, Jewish or "white." With that base covered, the odds are seven to eight times better of getting a call for an interview than if your name sounds African-American, Greek, Hispanic or Italian.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:59 PM on April 19, 2006


Equally odd:
Someone told me you require people to be "nice." Please explain.

...We avoid giving "tours" of our facilities because they are disruptive to people who work at our various locations. Actually, we simply never give such tours. They're intrusive and not what we're about....

We insist on seeing their facilities before we agree to hiring a supplier.

Not to be flip, because we fully understand some company executives don't feel comfortable in an electronic world, but if this is a requirement to do business with us, feel free to call and we'll give you the phone numbers for other research companies.

I'd like to come by and see your operation.

Nope. Our various operations -- call centers, data center, field offices -- are off limits. There's nothing to see and visits are disruptive to getting real work done.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:26 PM on April 19, 2006


And another link...
posted by VulcanMike at 9:27 PM on April 19, 2006


The ILT Institute recently conducted a study, and determined that the Hummer H3 not only makes its owner look like a wanker, it also makes the owner look poor.

The ILT Institute recommends the Jeep Wrangler, Mercedes G55, or Toyota Prius, depending on whether your goal was to go off-road, to look like a wanker, or get from place to place.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:49 PM on April 19, 2006


Bogus study? Very possibly. However, it does raise the spectre of the energy cost/impact/consumption of development, manufacture and delivery of product. These are often completely forgotten factors, but are dramatic in their actual impact. The so-called "pre-use phase" of products are not insignificant in their consumptive powers. This study (with whatever biases may or may not have skewed the data) brings this to attention. Of course, it does this in a reckless, irresponsible manner for promoting an automobile that consumes a great deal of resources merely for style.
The cost of design, development, production and delivery is one that is constantly overlooked or even intentionally minimized. If it weren't, we wouldn't have the type of intellectual property debates that we currently do (for better or for worse - I'm personally in favor of reform in that sector).
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 11:33 PM on April 19, 2006


Also, there are some intersting and possibly fallacious assumptions on the part of the study. Employee driving distances was cited. Assumedly, the design groups were a major factor here, as the hybrids certainly had a longer, more intensive design phase than the H3. So, is the assumption that when the engineers were done with the hybrids they just stopped going to work?
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 11:41 PM on April 19, 2006


You can do your own study on the environmental impact on pretty much anything by using the industry standard Okala Method for Life Cycle Assesment (LCA). EPA provides the TRACI scores for pretty much everything under the sun, and it gets pretty fascinating when you figure out that using certain types of plastics are less environmentally detrimental than using wood-based stuff, even when you landfill both.

There are a lot of outdated ideas about environmental impacts of goods that we haven't shaken since the 60's. (hint: Recycling paper is presently not so hot for the environment - do you wanna kill trees or fish?)

I'm not saying that this particular study is right or wrong, but I just wanted to point out the Okala thing, since it's a valuable tool available for anyone to (ab)use.

Yes, I'm knee deep in the Environmental Design module of my Industrial Design programme.
posted by Extopalopaketle at 12:13 AM on April 20, 2006


>The question is why did Yahoo publish it?

>>Because biz.yahoo.com publishes press releases.


*imagines redirect hack to tastycorporatecock.yahoo.com*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:03 AM on April 20, 2006


Batteries are expensive but likely to go down in price, gasoline is (comparatively) cheap in price but likely to go up. There's no way to see if they factored that into the equation, because the data has not been made public.

"Energy cost per mile" is a straw man argument, anyway. The question is really "pollution per mile."
posted by Jatayu das at 3:41 AM on April 20, 2006




this link has a comment by Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research, about how blogs can be the next wave of marketing vehicles.. I guess all you would need would be some catchy story (say, "SUV more economical than hybrid") to push all the bloggers buttons and they'lll be propagating your meme all over the show for a fraction of the price of an expensive advertising campaign.
posted by zog at 4:29 AM on April 20, 2006



"Energy cost per mile" is a straw man argument, anyway.


It's not, but like all stats, it can be misused. It's very useful if you are a shipper or rental firm, since that's a cost you may well be paying.

I suspect my iMac uses more energy than a Hummer since it's on all day.

Not. Drive a 100hp car for an hour, and you have used somewhere around 7450KW/hr, assuming an average of 10% power used during the hour. Assuming an iMac, full load, draws 700w, that would be .7KW/hr per hour, or about 17KW/hr for an entire day.

I suspect 700w is too high for an iMac, but guessing high is safer -- the monitor eats a bit of power, but the rest of the machine is basically a notebook. This also ignores sleep modes and such -- in short, I'm granting the car the ability to idle and cruise, while I'm insisting on the iMac running full bore for 24 hours. Note how the iMac still wins by a huge fraction.

Now, a Hummer, with a more power engine, will be far worse that 7450KW/hr, and if the power to mass ratio is worse (and I suspect it is) then the power fraction would be higher.
posted by eriko at 5:27 AM on April 20, 2006


Taxi driver puts 200,000 miles on his Prius.

Which is a testament to Toyota -- Taxi is probably the hardest daily work a car can do. Hint: if you really want a car that can take abuse, buy what the cab fleets buy -- but note that most cab fleets are religous about maintenance. (They do oil changes at least twice a month -- because they're putting 10,000+ miles a month on a car.)

The Toyota Highlander and Lexus 400h both currently use lithium ion batteries...

Except the production cars don't -- they wanted to, but the lithium oxidation problem couldn't be beat. All that energy is useless if you can't get it out of the battery. A shame, and I hope they beat it -- Li Poly batteries could triple the capacity of hybrid battery packs.

Aside: 3V lithium coin cells are perfect for testing LEDs -- the internal resistance is high enough that only a few mA gets through, so you don't instantly trash the LED. Indeed, many of the tiny LED lights are nothing more than a coin cell or two, an LED, and a switch.

Hook an LED up to a NiCAD directly, and it will die very fast.
posted by eriko at 5:34 AM on April 20, 2006


Somehow manage to draw 700W on your iMac and you'd blow the power supply, which is probably rated at like 300W.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:55 AM on April 20, 2006


As far as Toyota battery disposal goes - Toyota offers $200(USD) for the NiMH batteries, and recycles every bit of them. I'd give a link to the Toy page describing this, but its buried in flash. Here is a starting point: HSD

My first Prius had over 75K mi on it (before my daughter totaled it), and my current one has 60K. I love(d) them both, and I'll never by a 'normal' car again.
posted by DesbaratsDays at 5:58 AM on April 20, 2006


Why is this a surprise? An insider group, performing a study based on highly suspect premises, gets published by a for-profit media organization with marketing ties to the very folks propped up by the study? Go figure.

The worst part is that folks will take this at face value - it was printed by a company with an important-sounding name, after all, and they wouldn't publish it unless it was true, right? The company even came right out and told folks that they gave trucks like the H3 more than double the expected lifetime of hybrids, y'know, just to firm up the lie, but folks just smiled and nodded.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:08 AM on April 20, 2006


Let's say both vehicles drive 15,000 miles/year, and live 10 years (150,000 miles). If we assume the hybrid gets 45 mpg (which is lower than the reported value), and the H3 gets 15 mpg (which is higher than the estimated value), our numbers look like this:

H3: 10,000 gallons of gas.
Hybrid: 3,333 gallons of gas

The report states the hybrid's lifetime cost is over $3/mile, and the H3 is only $2/mile. So to compensate for this, the hybrid's creation/recycling must be the equivalent of 11,667 gallons of gas (bringing it to 15,000 gallons, 50% more than the H3). And this is if there's zero cost in building/recycling the H3.

Convert the 11,167 gallons to electricity, and each hybrid would require 420,000 kilowatts of energy to build. At 5 cents/kilowatt, that's $21,000. Seems a bit high, no?
posted by Crash at 8:48 AM on April 20, 2006


Data includes supplier as well as brand manufacturer energy consumption for the listed vehicles; transportation at all levels of distribution; use of materials (plastics, steel, light-weight steel, aluminum, etc.) and literally hundreds of other factors.

This sounds like "lies, damn lies and statistics" to me.

What are these "hundreds of other factors."

One factor perhaps not considered is what the individual with the vehicle does. How far they drive each year. How long they keep the car before getting a new one and other such things.
posted by Rashomon at 11:14 AM on April 20, 2006


I totally believe everything marketing guys tell me.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:03 PM on April 20, 2006


These guys are not industry insiders, they are mercenaries

From their FAQ

Who pays for your studies?

CNW M/R performs syndicated studies. That doesn't mean the mob is involved, only that we perform the study and then pray someone cares about the information we've learned. This protects you from seeing information that is skewed toward a particular point of view or company or product.
posted by Megafly at 2:42 PM on April 20, 2006


Crash wins the thread.

I was scribbling on the back of an envelope trying to put some real numbers to this study (Exactly HOW can an Accord 'cost' four times as much as a Scion?), but I couldn't explain my results as succinctly.

This "study" is a Marketing Lie, nothing else.
(Although it DOES further pique my interest in the Scion xB)

I'm also surprised that nobody here pointed out just how far down the Great Chain of Being H3 drivers are.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 4:22 PM on April 20, 2006


I read "Energy cost" as something entirely different than "cost of energy." But maybe that's just me. I don't think their conversion to $$ helps anyone. If they really mean "energy cost" then they should stick to BTUs or calories or somethiing.
posted by bugmuncher at 4:33 PM on April 20, 2006


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