Hey all, I’ve not seen any studies, but have read up on some things. In short, my mom asked me what I thought of hybrids. I post my response below - I’d like any known information on the different subjects I espoused upon - do they really save anything when you figure the life of the car times manufacturing costs (in terms of pollution), or is it all just a marketing gimic targeted at certain audiences?
I wonder about the hybrid cars - I've been doing some reading on them lately, too. The battery life is expected to be 8-10 years. They also expect that to be the average life of the car. If you keep the car longer, you will likely have to pay ~$5k for a new set of batteries at some point, as their ability to hold a charge will begin to fall off rapidly. Many places have laws that require the manufacturers to take the batteries back for recycling, but no one has published anything (nor are manufactures apparently willing to talk about) how much of the battery can actually be recycled. Problem is, that those batteries are full of heavy metals, which can potentially put more poison in the environment than a regular car would, but I don't know - there's no research that I'm currently aware of that covers this. Certainly, the hybrids are subsidised by the federal gov't to get the prices to their current level, and even so, you will never recoup your cost (over that of a regular car) in gasoline alone. Looking at overall environmental effects, however... Well, I don't know - I mean, it would seem to me that a hybrid is more energy intensive to build (more complex drive train, contains a combustion engine *AND* an electric motor, and maybe also a generator)... Does the "cost" (in CO2, as that's the big selling point) exceed what will be saved over the life of the car? I dunno. You still have to do oil changes every so often, so there's still waste material. My gut tells me that overall, it's probably near a wash, but I could be wrong.