As the joke goes, cattle roam in herds, a group of geese is a gaggle, and a collection of hybrid cars is a smug. Spend any time on Interstate 5 between the Canadian and Mexican borders and you’ll likely be caught in a smug of Toyota Prius hybrids, many of which are owned and operated by government agencies.
We don’t intend to argue the merits of hybrid vs. gasoline or electric, but have long been surprised by the vehemence with which environmentalists condemn ocean-going (and port befouling) vessels while driving their wasteful hybrids up and down the freeway.
Yes wasteful. After years of educated guessing, we conducted a brief and simple exercise to determine just how bad a Prius is for the planet.
We couldn’t really compare the 18,000-TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin with your neighbor’s hybrid on a trip to Costco, so we did the best we could with the data at hand. We compared a modern car carrier regularly used to transport Toyotas from the factory in Japan to Benicia. The distance traveled is roughly 5,150 miles, over which distance the Prius would earn a respectable 50 miles per gallon, after running the first 6 miles on battery alone.
Over the distance, the Prius would burn 103 gallons of unleaded gas, and produce 685 kg of CO2. …