Hybrid Vehicles: the Dark Side

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Hybrid Electric Vehicles
The Dark Side

John Orttenburger
Lake Superior State University
April 10, 2011

In the past decade, hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) have been making a big commotion with the innovative, gas saving technologies that accompany them. The illusion that HEVs are 100 percent environmentally friendly in all aspects also follows the HEV wave. Sadly the illusion often wins over unsuspecting customers the instant better gas mileage is offered. This review on the environmental impact of the hybrid electric vehicle observes the unseen sides of the automotive “green movement.” The piece compares how an ordinary gasoline vehicle (non-HEV) can achieve gas mileage that is just as good, if not better, than the more expensive hybrid option. This reality check on the newest technologies uproots what manufacturers do not want anyone to know or think about when buying a vehicle including: environmental pollution of the hybrid electric vehicle, non-HEV fuel economy, the lack of pay-back from owning an HEV, and how the HEV lacks the level of versatility required for many American families.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles
The Dark Side
Thesis: Hybrid Electric Vehicles should cease to be produced because of four main issues: environmental pollution has not reduced, better fuel economy can be achieved in non-hybrid vehicles, there is no payback in owning a hybrid, and hybrid vehicles do not possess the same versatility many American families need.

I. Environmental Pollution and the Hybrid Electric Vehicle A. Batteries contain Nickel, Lithium, and Lead
1. Mining these materials is hazardous, causes acid rain 2. Shipping these materials is costly and [the transportation vehicle] contributes to pollution B. Car accidents happen

3. Vehicular accidents happen all of the time, HEV batteries are prone to damage and can leak harmful materials (acids) into the environment. 4. Recycling batteries is impossible right now. Where do the batteries go? II. Non-HEV Fuel Economy

C. European Diesels vs. HEV
5. For decades European automotive companies have been producing diesel powered cars achieving mpg in the 40-90 range depending on the size of the vehicle 6. Americans have yet to adopt this technology due to discrepancies in emissions controls and standards. D. Alternative Fuel Technologies

7. Hydrogen power is becoming more available to the consumers in larger cities such as Los Angeles and New York City. 8. The technology is still rather expensive, but if the government stopped wasting money on HEV development and started spending on the development of Hydrogen Power, our depending on foreign oil would diminish and we would have a reliable, renewable, and ecologically sound energy

III. HEVs Do Not Pay To Own
E. Non-HEV vs. HEV
9. Most non-HEVs will tend to pay themselves off in a matter of years because they have small maintenance costs and relatively easy upkeep. 10. HEVs have many new features that are expensive to keep up in today’s market, especially with limited accessibility to replacement parts. F. Maintenance

11. HEVs are filled with a plethora of new costs that can drain a wallet dry! Depending on how long an HEV is owned the owner must maintain both the electric and gas motor along with the battery. 12. A battery costs upwards of an expensive $2,000.

IV. HEVs and the Population
G. Urban Population and HEV Use
13. Many Americans live in congested cities where fuel consumption is tremendous and pollution is a major problem. 14. HEVs offer the convenience of shutting off the gas motor while stopped and operating only the electric motor when in stop-and-go traffic. 15. More accidents happen in and around the city; it is more likely for a hybrid to be subject to...
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