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Toyota defends Prius

Clean machine: Prius is cleaner than expected after all, says Toyota.

American Prius senior exec challenges environment report

Toyota logo9 Jul 2007

ONE of the driving forces behind the Toyota Prius has denounced recent reports that claim the Prius’ ‘dust to dust’ environmental impact as being “worse than a Hummer’s” as rubbish.

Bill Reinert, US national manager of Advanced Technologies Group at Toyota in America, has questioned the methodology behind the report that has very publicly slammed the car’s environmental credentials. “Nobody has seen the database or methodology,” Mr Reinert asserts.

He says the group’s findings have been refuted “by every top science group of the world.” According to Mr Reinert, the report concluded that most of the energy consumed is in the manufacture of the car.

“Actually, 80 per cent of the energy used is in the use of a car,” Mr Reinert retorts.

The 17-year veteran with Toyota Motor Sales USA says that the Prius is in fact at least three times ‘cleaner’ than a Hummer H2, a full-sized truck-based SUV using a V8 engine.

CNW Marketing/Research – the group behind the ‘dust to dust’ report – is an Oregon-based publishing company that specialises in new and used vehicle industry reference guides, summaries, sales and trends.

In December 2006, it released a report detailing the results of a two-year study of data collated on the energy that was necessary “... to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from initial concept to scrappage.” According to the CNW report, the energy cost per mile for the Prius (and other hybrids) was $US3.25 over 100,000 miles, compared to the large SUV Hummer H2’s $US1.95 over 300,000 miles.

“It’s bullsh-t,” Mr Reinert retaliated bluntly.

“It’s so far outside the means of science.” Mr Reinert also challenged the report on the Sudbury Nickel mine in Ontario, Canada which provides the nickel used in the battery pack as part of the Prius’ Hybrid Synergy Drive.

“Actually it is a 100 year-old nickel mine,” Mr Reinert explains, “with vegetation that was destroyed by the middle of last century.

“So it was stopped in 1965… and in 1995 it won a United Nations Environmental Repair award.” Mr Reinert said that Toyota’s output of about 2.5 tons of Sulphur Dioxide per year equates to “about 20 minutes” of the mine’s total annual production.

This contrasts to the CNW report that claims Toyota buys 1000 tons of Nickel each year, then transports it from Canada to Wales and then to China and finally Japan, thus creating a globe-trotting trail of carbon-dioxide emissions.

On the basis of the report, Mr Reinert has questioned CNW’s motives for releasing information that he believes is so factually flawed.

“Why would you say it?” he declared.

Mr Reinert suggested that negative publicity in a general sense usually has some monetary motive behind it.

“Good news doesn’t sell (newspapers),” he said tersely.

“Toyota is a bigger target around the world as a result of being number one now.”

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