the visible hand

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Go Green — Buy a Used Car

Posted by ecoshift on May 19, 2008

Go Green — Buy a Used Car. It’s Better Than a Hybrid | Autopia from Wired.com
By Chuck Squatriglia
May 19, 2008 | 7:00:00 PMCategories: Emissions

Ditching your gas guzzler is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, but if you really want to do something about global warming, get a used car. You’ll be putting less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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….

You may laugh, but these cars are becoming big sellers. USA Today says fuel-misers from the early 1990s are selling like crazy and prices have gone up 30 percent in the past few months. A rust-bucket Geo Metro with 175,000 on the odometer recently sold for three grand on eBay.

… the point is, you don’t need to buy a Prius — or any other hybrid, for that matter — to get great fuel economy and minimize your carbon footprint. You might feel better driving a hybrid, but you won’t necessarily be greener.

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