On the popular BBC series ‘Have I Got News For You’ last week, the wonderfully entertaining Mr J Clarkson managed to lever in his tired old rant about how environmentally vile the batteries in the Toyota Prius are. I yawned, heard it all before, come on JC, come up with something new.
The Prius battery is a sealed Nickel Metal Hydride unit. Yes, it has Nickel in it, Nickel is mined in places like Russia, Canada and Australia. Nickel is used in a wide array of products, the overwhelming majority of it is used making. . . (insert suitable Clarksoneque pause) … alloy wheels.
Far more Nickel is used in manufacturing wheels on Mr Clarkson’s cars that go sideways on old runways again… and again… and again than will ever be used in Prius batteries. The Nickel in the Prius battery has a far bigger impact on reducing CO2 output and reducing fossil fuel use than any number of ultra wide, low profile ‘sexy’ alloy wheels.
So yes, the Nickel is mined in Canada, shipped on a fossil burning ship to manufacturing plants in Europe or the Middle East. This is then shipped to Germany where it’s used to make wheels for the Mercedes Mr Clarkson will then drive. . . .hard . . .powerrrrrr. Wonderful.
All cars use materials and components sourced from all over the world, all cars have a massive carbon footprint when they are manufactured. Some cars, especially the type Mr Clarkson drives use staggering amounts of fuel as their slightly insecure drivers express their masculinity thus vastly increasing the carbon footprint and emissions of toxic and carcinogenic particles over the life of the vehicle.
The Prius uses vastly less fuel and emits far less CO2 and particulates per mile, the batteries last a very, very long time and are then recycled by Toyota. There are over 600 independently verified Prius taxis from around the world that have travelled more than 300,000 miles on the original battery pack which still works just as well as when they were new. I know information like that isn’t sexy, it doesn’t involve a black car sliding sideways on a runway, but it’s true.
Now that there are more than 2 million Prius cars on the road, the combined fuel savings they represent is in the many tens of millions of gallons. The cars have proved remarkably reliable and all the nonsense about the batteries is from one single source. A light entertainer/journalist who is sponsored by Shell.
Wait a minute, gasp, a BBC show sponsored by a major oil company? Surely not!
No, not the TV show, the Top Gear Live stadium shows with a massive banner outside the auditorium proclaiming ’Proudly Sponsored by Shell.’ As it should be, I thoroughly approve.
I am also a light entertainer/journalist sponsored by British Gas and Toyota.
Although I have been sponsored by Toyota in the past, they are not paying me to write this, I have also been sponsored by British Gas, they are also not paying me to write this either.
I’m also sure that Mr Clarkson isn’t paid by Shell to denigrate the Prius on such spurious grounds. They don’t need to encourage him, he’ll do it anyway, just as I would defend the Prius and other hybrid and electric cars, paid or not.
It’s his shtick and we love him for it. I want him to keep it up, I don’t want him to stop, I fiercely defend his right to say what he pleases, I also defend my right to point out the glaring errors in his tragically popular hypothesis. If I mention the Prius on Twitter I’m immediately flooded with the same spurious ‘facts’ about the batteries. They are not facts, they are a stand up comedy routine. If Lee Evan’s does a funny routine about Parcel Force, we all laugh, we don’t believe what he says.
I don’t believe Mr Clarkson when he drones on about batteries and ‘green morons,’ I laugh. The problem is there are clearly many numpties who do actually believe that what he says has some validity. I just want to quietly state, it doesn’t.