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http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101018/OEM01/310189979There are plenty of revelations in the annual sustainability report recently released by Toyota. By and large, the company is as ecologically-minded as a multi-national corporation can be, but as we've touched on before, not everything is as squeaky clean as it could be. The Toyota Prius has earned itself as one of the greenest vehicles on the road – a perception that the company's report confirmed by detailing the fact that over its lifetime, the Prius is likely to emit much less carbon dioxide than other comparable vehicles.
Unfortunately, that truth is offset a bit by the fact that the vehicle performs marginally worse than average when it comes to the emissions generated to build hybrid. Specifically, Toyota cranks out extra nonmethane hydrocarbons and particulate matter, thanks specifically to the manufacturing of the car's electric motor and battery pack. Those two pieces require larger amounts of energy and materials, snagging the Prius lower than average ratings across all five manufacturing emissions categories.
The Toyota Prius is among the greenest cars to operate. But manufacturing the famous gasoline-electric hybrid can be a dirty business.
Toyota studied the car's total environmental impact from factory to junkyard.
Not surprisingly, the fuel-efficient Prius was better than average in its class of vehicles in lifetime emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide, according to Toyota.
But it was slightly worse than average in emissions of nonmethane hydrocarbons and particulate matter. Toyota says this is because producing hybrid-only parts such as motors, inverters and nickel-metal hydride batteries consumes more energy and creates more emissions.
In fact, when looking at the "materials manufacturing" phase of the car's life cycle, the Prius was worse than the class average across all five emissions categories.
Toyota said it conducted life cycle emissions assessments on eight vehicle series last year and used the results to help redesign such models as the Prius, Lexus RX 450h and HS 250h and such Japan-market vehicles as the Wish minivan and Mark X sedan.