Basically, what CNW Marketing Research, Inc. tried to do was understand just how much total energy it takes to makes, ship, drive and dispose of a particular vehicle. This is a pretty cool goal, and I appreciate this kind of holistic analysis of a consumer product. I'm certainly in no position to say CNW set up the study to make Hummers look better than Priuses. Cars are filthy beasts, and calling attention to this is a good thing. The problem here is the way the Reason Foundation uses the study for their own ends. They're so happy having a "study" (even one that is amazingly unclear of its sources and methods while pretending to be nothing but clear on them) that criticizes foreign hybrids that they manage to suck all sorts of context from the green car debate.
CNW's study authors wrote that, "Our goal, again, is simply to look at what society has to pay for the energy needed to support various vehicles". Well, if they're serious, then what about the type of energy needed to drive around in a Hummer versus a Prius? Sure, the Prius may need expensive battery components while the Hummer doesn't, but what the Hummer saves in production costs it uses in movement. Because what type of energy does driving a Hummer use up? Lots and lots of oil. And where does most of the oil that we in the United State use come from? The Middle East. So, using more oil gives Middle Eastern countries more money – something CNW (and Reason) is silent about. And what about the reality that hybrids will get better and cheaper down the line? We know it will happen, so why jump up and down and point at the politically charged Hummer and say it's good for us? BTW, the Scion xB was the most energy-efficient vehicle in CNW's study. I agree that hybrids have many faults and are not the answer to all our problems. But I cannot stand by while some fool tells me that driving a vehicle that gets 9 MPG is good for the environment. It's not. Try as one might, you can't Reason your way out of that simple fact.
[Source: Reason.org, Hat Tip to Rod Garrett]