“British magazine Car has been putting a few noses out of joint in the automotive trade. Its current edition has a report from an American outfit called CNW Marketing Research that puts the Toyota Prius and other hybrid models in their place by declaring the greenest car you can buy in Britain is......a Jeep Wrangler!
…The Jeep comes top of the green pile because CNW moves beyond the usual emissions figures and uses a "dust-to-dust" calculation of a car's environmental impact, from its creation to its ultimate destruction.
…Hybrid cars with their unusual componentry (battery packs, electric motors) and the expense and resources the car companies expend in designing them, score badly. The Wrangler, presumably, is pretty simple, doesn't cost much to make and, like a number of supposedly evil SUV's, should have a very long life because of its rugged construction.”
The aforementioned article surprised Usedcarsalesman, especially since Usedcarsalesman digs Hybrid technology and he also happens to love his automotive baby, one that he has driven for the last several years - an old Jeep Wrangler.
So, does American driver, Usedcarsalesman, think that he is driving the greenest car one can buy (at least in Great Britain, that is)? Does Usedcarsalesman think that Hybrids are not worth purchasing for their fuel efficiency and cleaner emissions, given their allegedly higher overall “environmental impact?”
Jeep Wrangler, the Greenest Car?
Well, calling the Jeep Wrangler the greenest car you can buy is one of those, “It-might-be-true, -but…” deals. Yes, over the years, when the various Jeep manufacturers have tweaked the design of the Jeep and stamped out another one, they haven’t really broken a heck of a lot of new ground and the environmental impact has been correspondingly low relative to other makes/models. The Jeep’s basic design has been around since 1941 (actually 1940 if you see old photos of all the old test models submitted by other manufacturers besides Willys – Bantam, Ford - to the U.S. Gov’t before Pearl Harbor). The forefather of the Wrangler was the Willys MA-MB (1941-45) , the CJ (1945-87), which led to the Wrangler (1987-Present). Like the B-52 Bomber that the U.S. military continues to use and will probably keep in operation for a total of 100 years (2040), the Jeep is a vehicle that that has proved itself consistently functional over time - 66 years. But, you must understand that if the Ford’s 1903 “Model-T” automobile were still in production, it would likely win the greenest title hands down, at least according to the analytical framework of the CNW Marketing Research study. So, the Jeep Wrangler being the supposedly greenest auto – one having the lowest environmental impact? Likely only because other makes/models of autos made before the MB/CJ/Wrangler have faded away from the market.
Hybrids not worth purchasing given their allegedly overall higher environmental impact?
Look, fuel efficiency is a good thing. Hybrids are a good thing. Next-to-zero emissions are a good thing. Who likes the smog in cities like Los Angeles, Mexico City, or Beijing? Exactly. So you buy a hybrid auto and you have a car that emits fewer and cleaner exhaust emissions and that uses less - sometimes much less - petroleum (foreign). Great, you are “acting locally,” doing your part to, in a small way, help keep the skies clear and reduce your nation’s dependency on foreign oil. But, is it worth the overall “environmental impact?” Yes, Usedcarsalesman thinks that manufacturing and buying hybrid autos is overwhelmingly worth their potential negative "environmental impact," at least in most population centers (for starters, smoggy Los Angeles, Mexico City, Beijing)
As Usedcarsalesman said before, people buy hybrids to do their part for cleaner air, reduce use of foreign oil (and maybe set an example for others to do the same). Some might also do it to save money at the fuel pump, who knows? But, environmental impact? A hybrid buyer in Los Angeles might say, “Come on, I bought my Prius down at Toyota of Hollywood, same as everybody else. All I know is that I’m making fewer trips to the Exxon, I get those cool yellow decals from the state to use the HOV lanes, I get a small tax-break from the Feds and while everybody else’s car is wasting gas idling at Red lights, my hybrid car has shut down making me feel like less of an Ass for sitting still. Environmental impact? Well, my environment doesn’t look any worse and I am probably helping it look even better in the long run by driving this Prius, right?”
Frankly, Usedcarsalesman doesn’t believe many Hybrid owners care, nor should they care, too much about some kind of greater (remote) environmental impact caused by the manufacturing and recycling their hybrid vehicles. Frankly, there is a lot more non-urban, clear-sky, “environment” in the world outside of the very small urban “environments” encompassed by smog-covered metro-areas such as Los Angeles, Mexico City and Beijing and others joining this dirty urban clique. Globally, we are probably talking an area of “non-urban environment” that is probably 1000x greater or more than “urban environments.” If, in building a few hundred million hybrids over the next 50 years, Toyota’s hybrid vehicles cause more of an overall global environmental impact than, say, a similar number (!) of Jeep Wranglers produced simultaneously, Usedcarsalesman thinks this “impact” will be easily absorbed by the larger world and quite a small price to pay in comparison to the “greatness” of cleaner urban skies.
Yes, maybe the Jeep Wrangler, in some circles, is seen to have a lower “environmental impact” than a Toyota Prius. Problem is, Usedcarsalesman doesn’t just live in the world, he lives in L.A., too.