Prius Safety

The threshold for voltage that can be fatal is around 60 volts. Toyota Prius has 276 volts. (No one has ever died fixing this car. Mechanic must be careful and experienced.) In a crash, once the airbags are deployed the high voltage (HV) system is shut down to protect passengers and emergency medic techs. According to the manufacturer, the Prius poses no greater threat than any other crashed car. Toyota uses nickel-metaphydride (NMH) which is claimed to be non-flammable and non-explosive.

The battery is also sealed in a metal case and located near the rear axle, a location that is deemed to be well protected in the event of a collision. Hybrids must conform to the same government crash test standards as all other passenger vehicles. Also, the engine has a bright orange indicator covering cables as a warning sign of a HV battery. (Hybrid Safety Concerns for First Responders, n.d.)

Impacts – National Security Over 50% of oil that is consumed in the U.S. is imported, which requires a military presence in these foreign countries to make certain the flow of oil is accessible. Not only does this presence cost billions of dollars a year, but it also stimulates hatred from those who oppose American principles. Our reliance on oil from the Middle East has aggravated conflicts and endangered national security. Pipelines and our oil tankers have become terrorists' targets for those who are aiming to cut resources and disrupt the economy. If this notion isn't concerning enough to reduce our dependency on oil then it is interesting that it is noted that: "oil money enables Saudi Arabia to invest approximately 40% of its income on weapons procurement". (Security Risks, n.d.) We are essentially funding terrorist operations as we know them with our activity.

Impacts – Oil Dependency Americans makeup less than 5% of the world's population but they guzzle almost 25% of its oil and release 25% of greenhouse gasses which is directly correlated to its oil consumption. While oil contributes 40% of the nation's aggregate power sources, it makes up 97% of the petroleum consumed by the various constituents of America's transportation system. If the country remains on the same path and consume huge masses of oil then the economy will be constrained by the fluctuations of the oil market. All three world oil price shocks (1973, 1979 and 1991) were followed by economic collapses in the United States.

President Bush has encountered heavy criticism on his initiative, or lack thereof, in addressing the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles. An increase in the standards for fuel-efficiency would allow for a substantial reduction in America's reliance on foreign oil as well as affect the American auto-industry. A rise of just less than 3 miles per gallon in the corporate average fuel economy (CAF�) standards, in one year, would offset the total exclusion of oil imports from Iraq and Kuwait collectively (Kennedy). U.S. automakers have been giving Bush pressure, which with Toyota's new success with the Prius have been set further behind their foreign competition and are being forced to scale back staff in certain plants. "14 U.S. factories are at risk if Detroit can't produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrids". (Economic Risks, n.d.) Therefore, the President has not yet supported large increases in these standards.

While encouraging the public to drive hybrid vehicles like the Prius is solid step in the right direction, other actions are being taken to reduce the dependency on oil, and thereby, its associated risks. Senator (IL) Barack Obama claims that reducing oil consumption is a top nationwide concern, but also acknowledges that it would be hard pressed to take place without a national investment. (Obama, 2005) It isn't that far-fetched to comprehend that the financial burden that American automakers have endured is due partly to its lagging behind competitors in producing energy efficient vehicles.

In November 2005, the Healthcare for Hybrid Act was implemented and offers federal funding of 10% of retiree healthcare expenditures. Manufacturers become eligible for financing only if 50% of the associated savings are spent on hybrid, alternative fuel technology and the correlated costs of shifting production more in the direction of fuel efficient vehicles. Walter McManus, auto-economist, asserts the enactment is of an innovative kind: "Typically, the Federal government influences investment decisions through tax credits, but in order for tax credits to work it is necessary to have something to tax. Companies posting losses, and the Big 3 (automakers) are billions in the red, pay no taxes, therefore they receive no benefit from a tax credit". (McManus, 2006) Employing this modern technology in vehicles in the United States will salvage jobs, maintain workers' healthcare levels and decrease reliance on foreign oil while handling critical ecological matters.

Impacts – Business & Economy America's current dependency on oil and the concept of energy efficiency has sparked a project called the Apollo Alliance. This initiative is aptly named after the Apollo project that resulted in putting a man on the moon. Its purpose, along with weaning America from oil, is to create millions of jobs while generating the infrastructure to the energy system of the future. The present economy's means of support is energy, and its outlook is contingent upon a continued economical supply. The American economy cannot dig itself out of the hole it has been digging for 30 years without actual political leadership and public investment. (Executive Summary, n.d.)

Public investments have historically proven to be critical in new technological progress. For example, railroads, national road structures, the space program and the creation of the microchip and other related technologies are all beneficiaries of government investments. This type of federal funding includes $300 billion over 10 years that should bring vast benefits to America and the world. In total 3.3 million jobs will be created. The majority of these jobs will arise in the struggling manufacturing industry. Renewable and resourceful energy requires far more labor than the labor needed with non-efficient sources. It will create 21.5 jobs for every $1 million investment.