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Monday, May 19, 2008

Better than a Hybrid: Buy a used car

Wired Blog

"As Matt Power notes in this month's issue of Wired, hybrids get great gas mileage but it takes 113 million BTUs of energy to make a Toyota Prius. Because there are about 113,000 BTUs of energy in a gallon of gasoline, the Prius has consumed the equivalent of 1,000 gallons of gasoline before it reaches the showroom. Think of it as a carbon debt -- one you won't pay off until the Prius has turned over 46,000 miles or so.

There's an easy way to avoid that debt -- buy a used car. The debt has already been paid. But not just any used car will do.

It has to be something fuel efficient. Like, say, a 1998 Toyota Tercel that gets 27 mpg city / 35 mpg highway miles. The Prius will have to go 100,000 miles to achieve the same carbon savings as the 10-year-old Tercel. Get behind the wheel of a 1994 Geo Metro XFi, which matches the Prius' 46 mpg, and the Prius would never close the carbon gap, Power writes.

There are a lot of used cars out there that top 30 mpg, and more than a few that reach into the 40s. Just about any Ford Festiva or Aspire will deliver 33 mpg. The mid-'90s Mazda Proteges are good for 30 mpg or so, as are the Dodge Colts of the early '90s."

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