Toyota Prius: King of Green or Earth Killer?

Harmony with Earth... or destroying it?

Harmony with Earth... or destroying it?

Anyone who’s considering a Toyota Prius might want to remember this quote from Jack Lifton, an independent commodities consultant and strategic metals expert, who calls the Prius “the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world.”

That’s a mighty big claim, and if it’s true, it means the Prius, billed as one of the most eco-friendly cars in the world, is actually eating away our planet’s stores of rare metals.

The reason for the Prius’ hunger for rare commodities are its batteries and motor magnets.

According to Leftlane,

each Prius uses about 2.2 lbs. of neodymium and each battery uses 22-33 lbs. of lanthanum, figures that will inevitably double as Toyota seeks to boost the Prius’ fuel efficiency.

Neodymium, terbium, dysprosium, and lanthanum are all considered rare earth metals, and all are being depleted, quickly, by popular hybrids like the Prius, Honda Insight, and Ford Escape Hybrid.

Yes, hybrid vehicles decrease our use of fossil fuels and reduce tailpipe emissions. However, how “green” they actually are is an issue that needs some serious debate.

I’m thinking fuel-efficient four-cylinder gas or diesel engines are actually much healthier for Earth.

Are hybrid cars like the Prius “green,” even though they deplete Earth’s rare metals? Do you even care?

-tgriffith

2 Comments

  1. Most “rare earth” elements are about as rare as copper.

    Prior to WWII there was no industrial use for most “rare earths” so they weren’t commercially mined.

    Neither neodymium nor lanthanum are scarce by any measure, though EV batteries (even in the Prius) will all eventually switch from nickel-metal-hydride to lithium, a very abundant element.

    Neodymium makes strong magnets which makes powerful, 90% efficient electric motors (for your Prius or Volt).

    Compared to a 35% efficient modern turbo-diesel engine.

  2. Finally someone has told the truth about these so called”green” hybrids. they are certainly not eco friendly due to the construction and end of life disposal of the battery if it was green it could be recycled completely and built from reclaimed materials and this its not.Fuel economy is crap on most hybrids as if you shop around its easy to find modern diesels that use far less fuel than a Prius and are nowhere near as complicated to build.

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