Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Another reason for me to be pleased I drive a Yaris

with 12 comments

My Yaris when it was new

My Yaris when it was new

Recently my email has been filling with notifications from facebook that people are commenting there and not here. Sometimes this gets a bit confusing. For example, Bernadette Keenan was asking about what sort of car I drive (a Toyota Yaris 4 door sedan) but at the same time telling me her daughter’s view of that Hummer anti-ad I posted.

As my daughter would say “Gas guzzling freak”

Now at first I thought she might have been talking about my car and not my blog post. Wrong. But now I can defend my choice of a conventional car over a hybrid thanks to the New Scientist (hat tip to Gudrun Langolf)

What’s worse, the CO2 put out by a gas-fuelled car or the environmental effects of hybrid-car batteries?

According to the UK-based Environmental Transport Association (ETA), the most efficient conventionally powered cars are slightly less detrimental to the environment than hybrid models. However, it points out that the current crop of hybrids won’t evolve without customers willing to invest in what is still frontier technology.

So a Yaris – which was the most efficient conventionally powered subcompact car available in Canada when I bought it – is better for the environment than a Prius. The reason I did not buy a Prius was simply the price tag. At that time it was roughly twice the price of a Yaris and at gas prices ruling at that time would not have paid for itself in gas savings. I did not even consider the need to recycle the battery – or even how often I might need to replace it. People who home convert cars and trucks to all electric, using lead acid batteries, save no money since the batteries have to be replaced very two to three years. But they do save a lot of CO2 emissions. And lead acid batteries are easier to recycle than some of the newer types. (By the way I have a small collection of dead rechargable batteries: does anyone know where I can take them to get recycled?)

Written by Stephen Rees

November 26, 2008 at 11:28 am

Posted in Transportation

12 Responses

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  1. Very interesting. A while back we were thinking of purchasing a vehicle and the Yaris was at the top of our list.


    November 26, 2008 at 11:32 am

  2. Sungsu

    November 26, 2008 at 11:52 am

  3. Recycling products in Richmond –

    The Yaris is quite efficient on gas, and I’m sure you made good use of the $1k tax rebate (while it was still active). The next step in efficiency would have been a Mini or a Smartcar, but you probably rejected those options since the cargo capacity on them are next to nothing.

    Personally I didn’t like the centre-dash display of the Yaris, which didn’t jive with my driving style (more difficult to look sideways than down while driving). But otherwise it’s a good functional vehicle, although probably the most expensive vehicle in the compact category – about $11,000 (after tax) cheaper than a Prius, however.


    November 26, 2008 at 12:23 pm

  4. Sacha

    Did you look at that list. Household batteries have to go to Aldergrove!

    I got used to the centre console very quickly: it is not an issue.

    Sungsu’s SPEC list is much more useful

    About 10 per cent of all batteries sold are rechargeable. These batteries contain toxic metals such as cadmium, lithium and nickel. The Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) has placed a disposal ban for nickel cadmium batteries (i.e. rechargeable batteries). These batteries can be recycled at major retailers including:

    Battery Plus
    Best Buy,
    Blacks Photography
    Canadian Tire,
    Home Depot,
    Home Hardware,
    London Drugs,
    Office Depot,
    Radio Shack

    Stephen Rees

    November 26, 2008 at 2:06 pm

  5. The toxic material (mainly mercury) was cut out of alkaline batteries some time ago. I believe places like Ikea will take them, and London Drugs should as well (they take rechargeables as pointed out).

    You can also have some fun and try recharging them if you have a voltage/current generator, you’ll get some more juice out of them… don’t put in too much though otherwise you’ll blow the cell.

    On a side note, have you tried an electric-powered bicycle?


    November 26, 2008 at 3:22 pm

  6. IKEA also has a recycling bin for CFLs and batteries at its customer service.

    Ron C.

    November 26, 2008 at 4:37 pm

  7. Ha, I just bought a Prius and now you make me feel bad Stephen. 😉

    Actually I didn’t consider the environment that much in my decision. It was more a combination of car size, driving habits and personal taste.

    The environment was in my mind a little, but actually I think the whole idea of “green” cars is a bit of a farce. Sure the Prius uses less fuel, but its total life cycle energy use etc is probably not that much different from a Corolla or Yaris.

    I am pretty excited about the new technology aspect of the Prius too, but I doubt that will last long.

    Total after taxes, etc was just over $28,000, and that included a $2250 discount with the Scrap It Program. So yes, a lot more than the Yaris.


    November 26, 2008 at 8:47 pm

  8. The price of a Prius has dropped significantly from last year. At the time I was researching my purchase the total cost to me would have been ~$40k before the government incentive (at that time $2k)

    Stephen Rees

    November 26, 2008 at 9:03 pm

  9. Unfortunately that $2k from the ecoAuto rebate only applies to 2006-08 cars, so I missed out on that one.

    No PST on the Prius, although I would prefer they put that money toward some form of rapid transit instead of using it for car rebates.


    November 26, 2008 at 9:48 pm

  10. Stephen:
    Hi, first let me say given my choice of people to be stranded with in a car, in a parking lot, during a rainstorm while waiting for Provincial Green Party Leader to arrive, you are definitely #1. Sonia and I both agree it was, well agreeable and entertaining instead of just wet and cold thanks to you. We’ll have to do it again sometime.

    Next I think the confusion is because your blog items are being posted to Facebook, because they are so entertaining and informative, so people (read myself) are commenting where they find them or maybe it is your fantastic photos. I might just be confused.

    Finally regarding the Yarius / Prius comparison:
    1. A question – any statistics on the number of Prius batteries that have been retired to date, since car started selling in about 1997? They are not a problem in the car are they?
    2. A comment – as mentioned bought the Prius to replace my Matrix, which was totaled after an unfortunate encounter with black ice, because the gas mileage of the Matrix compared unfavorably with the Tercel that preceded it. Did not mention that the first vehicle I considered was a Yaris and actually rented an automatic for a month. What decided me against the Yaris was the gas mileage, which was even worse than my Matrix.
    Based on my records standard Matrix – 6.1 to 8.1 l/100km average about 7.5l/100km.
    Yaris – 7.98 to 8.3l/100km for smaller vehicle 3 fill-ups).
    Prius – approximately 4.2 to 5.4l/100km with the greater
    consumption for road trips and during winter months when heater operating.
    Tercel – records lost when car sold.
    Now although the batteries are allegedly less environmentally friendly, the fact that the Prius is a hatchback and I value recycling means over the lifetime of the batteries (8 year warranty – but probably will last longer), I will have hauled enough recyclables such as returnable beverage containers; garage /flea market items; clothing donations; bus stop lawn chairs etc to have earned landfill credits against the battery disposal.

    Bernadette Keenan

    November 30, 2008 at 3:35 am

  11. PS I think your Yaris wins hands down for color though. It is beautiful.

    Bernadette Keenan

    November 30, 2008 at 3:36 am

  12. 1. The point being made about Prius batteries is full life cycle impact on the environment. At present while it is easy to recycle old lead acid batteries most of the newer types are much more difficult to process and recover useful materials.

    2. I have not kept track of my gas purchases over the year I have owned the vehicle. When I bought it I relied on the Transport Canada web page, the certified fuel consumption and the fact that Canada would give me $1,000 as it was the most fuel efficient car in its class at that time. My early experience confirmed the official fuel consumption figures. Actual consumption of course varies by load and driving style. As with most car issues the truly unpredictable variable is the performance of the nut behind the wheel.

    Stephen Rees

    November 30, 2008 at 11:13 am

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