The Hybrid Fallacy

So you’re going to buy a hybrid or electric car. And it’s going to help save the world, right? What if I told you it won’t? Because, well – it won’t.

Taking a world famous pioneering hybrid car we all know. To begin with, the car is very expensive, and it’s doubtful one would recoup the extra cost in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle. So it fails the “monetary ecology” test.

But wait – surely it’s better to pay a few dollars more and reduce the pollution footprint I make on the ecology, yes? And again, sorry but the answer is no.

You see, it costs, not so much in monetary terms but in pollution and greenhouse emissions terms. Where are the “strikes” in this technology?

Well – manufacturing the electric motor. Bzzt! Hello, manufacturing anything costs money, fuel, energy, and pollution footprint.

So on that same tack, there are control electronics to manufacture, and then – believe it or not, weighing in with the biggest black marks – the batteries. Yep, when you add up all that pollution and fuel and energy spent on making the electrics and electronics of the hybrid car, it’s doubtful if the car will ever recoup the energy losses and pollution footprint, either…

Then of course what a hybrid is doing is not magically creating new electricity to put in the batteries, instead it makes that electricity from the petrol engine while it is not doing much, and also from recycling energy that would otherwise be wasted in braking, which is “regenerative braking.” So it really CAN’T save that much pollution and energy.

Which means that unless you run your hybrid for ten years or more it will not even recoup the pollution caused by making it in the first place.

And for “rechargeable” hybrids and full electric cars, you’re only shifting the fuel and energy use along the extension cord to the power station.

So also think before you buy your next vehicle, because using them as long as possible saves having to make a new one, and when you do finally buy a vehicle, get figures on what it cost in ecological terms to manufacture, and what it will save over its lifetime. You may be better off keeping the old family car and buying several small scooters instead!