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Uncle Duke
03-11-2006, 11:17 AM
Yes, I changed the title. No, this is not about whether or not I should get a new car. It's a question about what the energy and environmental costs are of new car production, per car, if possible.
I had a discussion recently with someone who told me, in the strongest terms, that I should get rid of my old Pathfinder and get something more environmentally friendly.
My response was that (1) the Pathfinder was paid for (the best 2 words about any car), that (2) even if I sold it, someone else would still be driving it and burning up gas, etc and that (3) there is some cost in the production of a new car which should be factored into the equation. No immediate environmental savings, I figured, so it's best to drive the car until it is dead and buried.
That got us into a discussion about how to really calculate the cost of cars, for example: what is the energy/environmental cost for building a new car and what is the energy/environmental cost for scrapping an old car?
Does anyone know where to find estimates for this?
And - are these the correct questions, or are there other factors which should also be included?

[ 03-11-2006, 04:21 PM: Message edited by: Uncle Duke ]

Gary E
03-11-2006, 11:30 AM
I had a discussion recently with someone who told me, in the strongest terms, that I should get rid of my old Pathfinder and get something more environmentally friendly.
Let me guess.... He's sells the kind he wantz you to buy?

He is envious of your "no monthly payments" ??

He is just a enviro nazzi...??

Screw him...keep whut ya got...

LeeG
03-11-2006, 11:40 AM
Unless you drive insane amounts and don't need anything other than a freeway commuter it would make more sense to use what you got economically. Gentle on the accellerator and brakes, combining trips, etc. To find anything comparable with significant fuel savings isn't likely, a hybrid SUV given todays technology is a doubtful decrease in environmental impact.
Maybe he's got a used turbo diesel Jetta to sell?

George Roberts
03-11-2006, 12:12 PM
Uncle Duke ---

There is never an economic advantage to selling a running car.

Uncle Duke
03-11-2006, 12:17 PM
Thanks for the comments, but perhaps I didn't phrase the questions correctly. I am keeping the car since I always keep cars until they die. He doesn't sell anything. Environmentally "sensitive", but not a "nazi".
The questions were really more academic, along the lines of 'how do you really calculate environmental costs'...
Not "should I dump a car which should be good for another 4-5 years"...

Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
03-11-2006, 12:30 PM
I think it's interesting how over the last hundred years we've gone from small motors to big motors and back to small again. :confused:

My first pick would be a 70's Ford full size pick up w/ 302 8cyl. small block to tow the boat with of course...

http://jr.lovefords.org/galleries/images/73_ford_pickup.jpg

and my second would be a 1964-1969 VW Beetle for my economy car. ;)



http://www.kamielmaase.com/images/kever%2006.jpg



The best of both worlds. :cool:

[ 03-11-2006, 12:52 PM: Message edited by: Mr. Know It All ]

N. Scheuer
03-11-2006, 01:11 PM
Both look great, Know-it-all!

What sort of mpg does that Beetle get? I forgot the numbers from that far "back when".

Moby Nick

Uncle Duke
03-11-2006, 01:18 PM
'66 Beetle was the best year, I think. Don't know much about pickups.
Among the other things I don't know is how much energy it takes to create a ton of steel, or of any of the other materials which go into a car.
And I also don't know what the energy costs are of the various factories which take those materials and have a car come out the end.
And (further) I don't know where to find that information.

Katherine
03-11-2006, 02:17 PM
Keep the Pathfinder, keep it tuned up.

Uncle Duke
03-11-2006, 04:23 PM
Again:

Thanks for the comments, but perhaps I didn't phrase the questions correctly. I am keeping the car since I always keep cars until they die. .
It's a question about what the energy and environmental costs are of new car production, per car, if possible

Gary E
03-11-2006, 05:15 PM
Depending on how you want to define ENERGY

Since energy is work or the ability to do work, and work costs $...

From a dictionary....

enˇerˇgy (nr-j)
n.

The capacity for work or vigorous activity; vigor; power.
The capacity of a physical system to do work. Steel costs...$860 / ton to manufacture

The plastic resin mixture costs aprox $2.50/lb

Lets say the car weighs 4000 lbs.
Spose 3500 lbs of that is Steeel......$1505
Spose the rest is plastic and use $2.50/lb......$1250

So we have a ball park cost total of $2755

Eerything above that is the price/cost of ...
electricity, heat, labor, taxes, and profit(if there is any)

So if the retail cost is $20,000 and the materials cost $2755 that makes all the energy put into making the car cost...$17,245

But someone will come along and sugest that the only cost is that of the ink to sign the lease, cuz not many really buy a car these days.

You asked the cost of disposal...
Ummm..... cant even guess...
But I have seen the car crushers make a small cube out of a big ol'e car in nothing flat.

crawdaddyjim50
03-11-2006, 05:20 PM
The costs are calculable(sp?) but you will not get a real response from the treehugging socialist crowd as it is not in their best interest to tell you that the newer environmentaly safer cars take more energy and use more toxic materials to manufacture and are generally not as recyclable as the old steel and wood vehicles.

Uncle Duke
03-11-2006, 05:30 PM
Thanks, Gary E, for the nice analysis.
I wonder where I can find numbers exclusive of wages, etc - just the energy cost (electricity, diesel for transportation of materials, heat for the factories, etc)...
It would be nice to be able to say something like "it takes the equivalent of 'x' gallons of gas to produce Toyota Prius", or something like that. My guess is that 'x' is greater than 50, but less than 5,000 - but that is a guess based on absolutely nothing at all.

And, crawdaddyjim50, I suspect that you're correct. But, I can't seem to get them from anyone. Not sure why...

[ 03-11-2006, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: Uncle Duke ]

LeeG
03-11-2006, 05:40 PM
I'm guessing the weight of a new car would have a rough correlation to it's energy costs of manufacturing. Likewise the more power options and doodads.
I'm sure there's an engineering hedonist able to find those numbers,,but he might be a tree-hugger too so crawdaddy may have to plug his ears.

Gary E
03-11-2006, 05:42 PM
I wonder where I can find numbers exclusive of wages, etc - just the energy cost (electricity, diesel for transportation of materials, heat for the factories, etc)...
You wont...think about it, there are far to many companies and middle men that touch all the parts to even guess.

Letz see...electric cost/car to....
roll the steel
form the steel
power the electric compressor to power the air gun to drive the screws
to light the factory
to on and on and on...

Miniscule when you think about the total of cars produced in a year or a day or 5 mins....

Just remembered from the 70's...
The total time to MAKE A FENDER...aprox 25 seconds...
That is from sheared sheet of steel to painted and in the box loaded on a box car ready to roll on to Detroit assembly line...

Katherine
03-11-2006, 05:44 PM
Duke, most auto makers have the type of numbers you're looking for, but it's not something they make public.

crawdaddyjim50
03-11-2006, 07:06 PM
Duke maybe this link will give you some of the information you are looking for. Environmental cost analysis of car manufacture (http://www.ilea.org/lcas/macleanlave1998.html)

Uncle Duke
03-11-2006, 10:09 PM
crawdaddyjim50.

This is perfect. Greatest thanks (how did you find it????)

crawdaddyjim50
03-12-2006, 12:11 AM
Google, but you have to play with your search terms.
This site would not show up until I put "analysis" into the search string. IE: environmental cost analysis of car manufacture. Jim
Glad to be of help

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-13-2006, 05:15 AM
My word - that is interesting. Quite an eye opener.

I've been following this thread with interest, as I considered changing my paid-for Ford for a to-pay-for Prius, but decided not to.

Uncle Duke
03-13-2006, 07:59 AM
I'm going through the numbers with great interest - trying to figure out what they really mean. Maybe I'll have some arguable conclusions soon... ;)
What were fascinating and totally unexpected were the "toxic" waste numbers (as opposed to air-borne pollution).
Very interesting, indeed.

Dan McCosh
03-13-2006, 10:37 AM
What you find in manufacturing is that ultimately, the cost of any manufactured product is going to be the cost of labor. This is due to the fact that you always start with natural materials and synthesize what you want by the addition of labor. This includes, of course, the production of energy. The price is determined by the cost of the labor plus profit. Any analysis excluding the cost of labor thus becomes a non sequitur.
That aside, if what you are attempting to determine is how much "energy"--i.e. consumption of primarily fossil-fuel based energy is consumed in the process of manufacturing, it is, indeed quite high. On a national scale, it is about the same annually as all the fuel consumed in personal driving.
In manufacturing cars, the problem in analyzing it is that the long supply chain that produces raw materials and most manufactured components is not the auto industry per se. Still, the industry is one of the largest consumers of finished steel, aluminum, various polymers etc. , which tend to be highly energy intensive processes.
Cars are also among the most recycled products made, with about 90% of their components or raw materials re-used in some fashion at the end of life. That the processes used for recycling can also be quite energy intensive is another story.
The containment of industrial pollution is one of the major environmental success stories, at least for modern plants. It's still a huge issue, however, paricularly when the newer players--manufacturing centers offshore-- are included.

[ 03-13-2006, 10:40 AM: Message edited by: Dan McCosh ]

Dan McCosh
03-13-2006, 11:12 AM
That's true for high-margin products like designer water, but only partly true for automobiles. The marketing costs of a typical car can exceed 15%, while labor is about 10% (direct hours in final assembly). Materials are higher than either.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-13-2006, 11:32 AM
Hmm, slightly off the point, but in shipbuilding we reckon the value added by the shipyard is rather less than 30%, for the main merchant ship types. Looks as if cars are not so very different after all.

Ships are highly re-cycleable, at a certain environmental cost.

There's a Chinese Bureau of State Statistics paper which computes the value added by Chinese industry to its exports at 15%, but I am not comfortable with that as it omits reference to round tripping over Hong Kong.