Greenwashing: Prius

By: Allison Johnson

It feels like every advertisement and commercial these days is riddled with greenwashing techniques and misleading information. One type of commercial that sticks out as being in excess of greenwashing are the commercials for the Toyota Pius. As advertised the Prius is said to be, “the world’s most environmentally friendly car”. This at minimum is the TerraChoice greenwashing sin number five, The sin of lesser of two evils. Being that though personal vehicles in general are terrible for the environment, the Prius is the best option from that sector of pollution and environmentally harmful human consumption.

In Axel Addicts, “The Prius Bad for the Environment”, acknowledges that fuel efficiency is not the only factor that comes into play when evaluating a vehicle on its environmental performance.  The most impactful factors to environmental friendliness with regard to vehicle is, “the production of the car…”(Axel). The shipping costs, raw materials, and the manufacturing effort all have environmental impacts together and separately (Axel).

One of the most environmentally harsh components to the Prius is the nickel battery it contains. Mined in Ontario Canada, “the plant that smelts the nickel is apparently nicknames ‘the Superstack'” (Axel). This is due to the copious amounts of pollution it creates and releases into the atmosphere.

The Prius compared to a Hummer of all monstrosities, “costs about $3.25 per mile and is expected to last about 100,000 miles”(Axel). Where as an average Hummer on the other hand, ” Costs about $1.95 per mile and is expected to last about 300,000 miles. These comparative statistics alone make it quite clear how much goes into making a Prius and with minimal return, with regards to the lifecycle of the vehicle.

All though the Prius my have remarkable fuel efficiency of 60 miles per gallon, there certainly more to them than meets the eye. Most commercials for this vehicle focus on fuel efficiency, rechargeable features and the iconic hum the make. Not only are these ads partaking in the lesser of two evils sin, I believe they can also be considered involved in the sin of the hidden trade-off. This is I feel the most easily deployed sin, seeing that companies need only to not mention information they are fully aware of.


Axel Addicts. The Prius Bad for the Environment. Axel Addict 21 March 2016. Accessed 15 Nov. 2016.


Aufrichtig, Melanie. The worlds Most Environmentally Friendly Car – Toyota Prius Coomercial. Accessed 15 Nov. 2016.


One thought on “Greenwashing: Prius

  1. My grandparents own a prius and i tried explaining this same thing to them but they either didn’t want to hear about it or didn’t care. The mining that actually goes into making the batteries and the fuel to transport the batteries makes the prius pretty bad for the environment. It’s a sad fact but true.

    Edwin Doll


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