Hummer versus Prius: “Dust to Dust” Report Misleads the Media and Public with Bad Science

Published: May 26, 2007
Author: Peter Gleick

The CNW Marketing Research, Inc.’s 2007 “Dust to Dust: The Energy Cost of New Vehicles From Concept to Disposal” caught the interest of the media and the public with its claim that a Hummer H3 SUV has a lower life-cycle energy cost than a Toyota Prius hybrid. Closer inspection suggests that the report’s conclusions rely on faulty methods of analysis, untenable assumptions, selective use and presentation of data, and a complete lack of peer review. Even the most cursory look reveals serious biases and flaws: the average Hummer H1 is assumed to travel 379,000 miles and last for 35 years, while the average Prius is assumed to last only 109,000 miles over less than 12 years. These selective and unsupported assumptions distort the final results. A quick re-analysis with peer-reviewed data leads to completely opposite conclusions: the life-cycle energy requirements of hybrids and smaller cars are far lower than Hummers and other large SUVs. CNW should either release its full report, including methods, assumptions, and data, or the public should ignore its conclusions. Unfortunately, “Dust to Dust” has already distorted the public debate.

Download the Pacific Institute’s seven page re-analysis of “Dust to Dust” (PDF)