Think your Hybrid vehicle doesn’t have Negative Environmental Impacts? Think again!


Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) use multiple power sources to fuel movement. HEVs are powered by a combination of gasoline or diesel along with an electric battery that charges while the car is on. While the car reduces total gas mileage and emissions, there are still many potential environmental problems associated with it.


Lie:  Hybrid cars are much better for the environment. “The current generation of hybrid cars use nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, unlike conventional cars, which use lead-acid batteries. Lead, like all heavy metals, is a major pollutant, whereas nickel is not.”–Caterina Nelson

Negative Environmental Impacts

Electricity Sources for PHEVs

Plugging in your car to charge it does not mean you’re necessarily using clean energy. Every city and state produces electric power through diverse energy sources. According to a study by Ohio State University, “If your city’s or state’s power grid is fueled with coal or oil, you may end up emitting as much or more pollution as a traditional vehicle in order to power your car.”

Hybrids Aren’t Emission-Free

Hybrid cars do not reduce as much smog-forming emissions in the environment as people may presume. A 2004 report by the Connecticut General Assembly, stated, “When comparing a traditional compact car to its hybrid counterpart, you can expect emissions to be reduced by approximately 10 percent.” Therefore, hybrid cars still contribute to air pollution.


Consider the Batteries

Traditional vehicles use lead-acid batteries. Lead is a toxic chemical that, when released into the environment, can cause lasting damage. Most HEVs and PHEVs use nickel-hydride and lithium-ion batteries which were thought to be better for the environment. Sadly, this belief is not true. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nickel is a likely human poison, and wrongly disposing of nickel-hydride batteries can pose an environmental danger.

More Heavy Metals

In addition to using nickel in some HEV and PHEV batteries, HEVs and PHEVs use huge amounts of copper in in various parts of their machinery such as their electric drive motors and wiring. Copper must be mined either from open pits or underground mines in a way that can essentially lead to environmental degradation. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne’s Illinois Sustainable Technology Center found that copper mining contributes to air emissions of several metals and sulfuric acid. Open pit mining comprises the stripping and removing of surface grasses, trees and dirt to unearth the deposits of minerals.


High-Voltage Wiring

Hybrid vehicles may have potential safety problems. The electric mechanisms of the vehicle that make it so fuel-efficient also mean that the engine has high-voltage wiring. Hybrid fears that if the car happened to get into a crash and some wires are open, emergency personnel or other individuals at the crash site may get electrocuted.



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