Hybrid cars not as green as claimed, says survey

Petrol-electric hybrid vehicles are not as environmentally friendly as they are claimed to be, according to a new survey.

The two-year study by CNW Marketing Research has found that when the total cost to the environment is calculated, including factors like production and recycling of batteries and electric motors, some hybrids actually come second to conventionally powered vehicles.

CNW president Art Spinella says: “If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy because of family budgets or depleting oil supplies, it is perfectly logical to consider buying fuel-economic vehicles.

“But if you take into account the energy needed to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from concept to when it is scrapped, some high economy vehicles actually cost society more than conventional models.”

So-called “gas guzzling” vehicles were targeted in Gordon Brown’s Budget last month. More than 800 models, including ordinary family estates branded “Chelsea tractors”, fall into Band G of the Chancellor’s scale, because they push out more than 225 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

The Chancellor wants “to encourage cleaner cars and fuels”. Users of the most up-to-date hybrid cars in the new Band A will be exempt from car tax. Other models, such as the Smart Car, are included in Band B, and will pay just &£40 annually.

Spinella adds that the survey is not a definitive end to the debate about the effectiveness of hybrids. “We hope to see a dialogue begin that puts educated and aware consumers into energy policy discussions,” he says. “We undertook this research to see if perceptions were true in the real world.”

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