Saving the Planet, one Semi-Immortal Toyota at a time
I’ve recently been intrigued by the growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs). Pushed along by federal policy, lots of automakers are jumping onto the EV bandwagon – some of them in the extreme. While I agree Teslas are pretty nifty, I have some serious reservations about EVs. So, as a consummate technological and environmental expert, I have generously decided to offer the definitive comparison of the three greenest means of automotive travel.
Option 1: Electric Vehicles (EVs)
- More reliable. EVs have only a fraction of the moving parts of a regular gas-powered vehicle. Thus, they have only a fraction of the parts to break.
- Fewer emissions while driving. Like, none at all. Easiest way to identify if the car ahead of you is an EV: where’s the tailpipe??
- Less dependence on the whims of third-world dictators, oil companies, and/or ransomware attackers – you won’t have to worry when gas prices go up just in time for summer vacation, or because some minor autocrat gets in a snit, or (most recently) just because some cybercriminals hack into the pipeline company. Aside: the best specialty license plate I’ve ever seen was on an EV and said “LOL OPEC”.
- Charging infrastructure. In many places, battery charging stations are getting more common. There are several in Roanoke… but don’t try running out of juice in Martinsville. Or Fincastle. Or Paint Bank.
- Battery range. This is especially a concern when you’re on a long road trip. If you can find a charging station, you might be waiting a while to fill up that battery – a problem if you have 300 more miles to cover. On the other hand, if you can’t find one, be prepared to get towed… by a diesel.
- Depending on the mix of power generation in your area, EVs could accurately be called “coal-powered cars.” Whoops.
- According to some sources, the emissions from manufacturing the sophisticated battery for an EV are greater (some say much greater) than the emissions from manufacturing a gas-powered car.
- Unless the battery recycling streams get a lot more advanced quickly, in about a decade there might be a whole bunch of heavy duty EV batteries replete with rare earth metals headed to landfills (or maybe to trash heaps in other countries that we pay to take our trash). Doesn’t sound too green.
Option 2: Hybrid vehicles. These vehicles, with the Toyota Prius as their fearless pioneer, boast both a battery and a small gas engine that turns on to charge it.
- All the conveniences of a gas powered car with far greater efficiency and eco-friendliness.
- Best gas mileage ever. Maybe not LOL OPEC, but definitely Small Chuckle OPEC.
- The stuff you can do with a Prius is really cool. Like, generate emergency power for your home.
- Battery system + gas engine = even more parts to break.
- Battery life. As with an EV, the advanced battery system of a hybrid needs full replacement after 100,000 miles or so. Seems like I see a lot of used Priuses for sale with about 100,000 miles on them.
- Hybrids have all the environmental issues of battery manufacturing and disposal that EVs have, plus the tailpipe.
But folks, there’s Option 3. Let’s call it: Hypermiling with the Semi-Immortal Toyota. Here’s the basic idea: buy a used Toyota. Keep driving it and maintaining it. Don’t buy another car. While driving it, coast whenever possible and use your brakes only in emergencies.
- Environmentally friendly, Exhibit A. With the proper hypermiling techniques, you’ll get almost as good gas mileage as a hybrid.
- Environmentally friendly, Exhibit B. By refusing to buy a new car, you’ll keep more gas powered cars out of circulation and decrease the total landfill material.
- Cost effective. Toyotas are very averse to dying. As you pass 100,000, then 200,000, maybe even 300,000 miles, you’ll shake your head at all those poor suckers buying new cars every 3 to 5 years. Also, as the years go by, you’ll notice that insurance companies and local governments come to believe your car is almost worthless. Their mistake.
- Theft deterrent. Who steals a 20 year old Toyota?
- Don’t overdo it with the hypermiling. If you total your Toyota, you will negate all the advantages above.
- When you finally do have to buy another car, you’ll experience significant grief and angst.
- When you finally do have to buy another car, you’ll have forgotten how to go about it.
Those, folks, are your options. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one my family has taken.
My semi-immortal Toyota, 14 years ago (it was already used) and today. It is still our family’s main form of transportation. I’ve aged more than it has.
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