New study: Full-size SUVs consume less energy over lifetime than hybrids

The results of a new study conducted by CNW Marketing Research Inc. is sure to generate some arched eyebrows. The firm's report stems from their two-year effort to collect and analyze data on the "energy neessary to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from initial concept to scrappage." CNW then assigned their findings a new comparative metric - "dollars per lifetime mile" - or, said another way, total energy cost per mile driven.

The findings? America's most expensive vehicle in calendar 2005 was the Maybach (presumably a 62), tallying up at a staggering $11.58/mile. The thriftiest? Scion's boxy xB, just $.48 cents/mile.

But here's where it gets interesting: CNW's findings indicate that a hybrid consumes more energy overall than a comparable conventionally powered model. It judged showed that the Honda Accord Hybrid rang up an Energy Costs Per Mile of $3.29, while a gas-powered Accord was significantly cheaper at $2.18/mile. The study concludes that the average of all 2005 U.S. market vehicles was $2.28/mile.

The reasoning goes that hybrids use up more energy to manufacture, as well as consume more resources in terms of the assembly (and eventual disposal) of things like batteries and motors. By CNW's reckoning, the intrinsically lower complexity of, say, a Hummer H3 ($1.949/mile) actually results in lower total energy usage than any hybrid currently on the market, and even a standard Honda Civic ($2.42).

While the study's findings don't take issue with what vehicles are more financially economical to own (read: those with better mileage), it does pose some interesting questions about total energy usage in hybrids.

Obviously, in order to best judge the merit of CNW's findings, a clearer explanation of the study's criteria and processes is in order.

[Sources: CNW via Yahoo Business,]

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