In a perfect example of why Cliff’s Notes don’t substitute for reading the whole book, the method by which Paul McCartney’s new luxury hybrid was delivered to him has ruined any environmental gains that might have been made by driving a hybrid in the first place. Indeed… his brand new Lexus LS 600h hybrid was flown to him by cargo plane. Questions of whether or not a 5.0-liter, V-8, 19 mile per gallon luxury behemoth really exemplifies the spirit of a “hybrid” aside, the judgment involved in shipping cars by airplane is enough to cringe at.
Doing some of my own napkin calculations (below) I came up with a fuel efficiency for the 5,966 mile trip from Tokyo to London of 4 mpg. That’s assuming the cargo plane burned 5 gallons of fuel per mile and there were 19 other cars in the plane. I’m not so sure there were 20 cars on that cargo plane, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. What this means is that the former Beatle’s new Lexus hybrid got 4 mpg for the first 5,966 miles of its life without ever starting up or even getting the chance to enjoy its V-8 glory on the open road. What a shame.
To be fair, we’ve all been guilty of this kind of inefficient transportation at some level (think bananas from South America), and Paul McCartney is simply an easy target. In fact, most new cars being bought off the lot will have a large “carbon debt” due to the simple act of manufacturing. This debt, even in the case of a Prius, will take tens of thousands of miles of driving to pay off versus something like a fuel efficient used car. In the end, the lack of wisdom here points out that we can deliver all the great new technology we want, yet without the conscious decision to change our habits we won’t make much headway in improving energy efficiency.
*Editorial Note: Nick Chambers is the newest writer on Gas 2.0: welcome Nick!
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