Who Drives a Hybrid?

By dancurranjr On January 1st, 2010

Who drives hybrid automobiles? If one were to watch the annals of the Hollywood elite then it would be a safe assumption that actors of all stripes who care about the environment drive them. Were a person to watch Fox News, then it would be a safe assumption that the Liberal elite drive hybrids. The real question is though, who does drive these cars and why?

For many, an automobile is the 2nd most important investment after their homes. A car takes one to and from work, as well as on various other trips that can potentially lead to a great and fulfilling life. It is fair to say that the automobile has replaced the dog as man’s best friend, at least in terms of economical practicality.

The question remains though, who buys hybrids? For many Americans the benefits of having a hybrid car do not outweigh the negatives of having such an auto. The amount of gas spent in a hybrid auto is certainly less (depending on driving style), but besides that, what do you really get? The amount of time it takes to get from 0-60 is often near to 10 seconds in most models, which doesn’t make a hybrid particularly practical for getting up to speed while entering the freeway. The initial cost of a hybrid is far higher than a normal internal combustion car, and the styling on hybrid cars is, without a doubt, some of the ugliest ever created. There are more benefits than previously stated, such as reduced emissions and other eco-friendly advertisement gold, but what does it all come down to? Is the hybrid car a luxury item, just like a fine bottle of wine (wine industry hurt by economic downturn), or perhaps taking a vacation (amount of traveling down due to economic downturn). The answer is, not surprisingly: yes.

The new Honda Insight Hybrid has failed to make any kind of significant dent in the hybrid market, and thus the general automobile market. When a car company tries to make a knock-off of a proven success, the chances of failure are quite high. This is the case with the Honda Insight, which clearly copied much of the Toyota Prius. This is lack of success is a bit surprising however, due to the fact that the Honda Insight is in the same echelon of ugliness as the Toyota Prius but costs $2,000 less than its rival. Yet, the Prius is still outselling the Insight nearly 6 to 1.

This strange development in the hybrid market has induced speculation as to how the General Motors Volt will fare. Due to its extreme amount of gas mileage (53 miles to the gallon), and its certain lack of driving pleasure it should capture a large portion of the hybrid market. Chevy is producing this car, which is set to cost about the same as a Toyota Prius, though it looks far better than the elongated excrement body styling that the Prius has relied on all these years.

Despite the hybrid market growing at a good clip, who is going to spend $32,000 on a car that doesn’t have a shred of performance, sex-appeal or jaw-dropping speed? More to the point, who is going to spend $32,000 on the Chevy Volt when they can spend $10,000 less on a brand new Camaro? Who is going to drive a car that gets 53 miles to the gallon for anything but the amount saved at the pump? The young crowd won’t go for it due to the initial price, the midlife crisis folks won’t go for it because it doesn’t induce any sort of adrenaline rush. Who will want to buy this car is all speculation at this point. But it’s not hard to guess that it will likely be eco-friendly folks with a lot of money who want to “help the environment”. Many hybrid drivers have an annual average income of over $100,000, making the hybrid market a niche one, based solely upon this diminishing economic group. The question of who would buy the Volt having been answered, when are the car companies going to make a hybrid that all of us can afford and actually want to buy? The clock is ticking.

SOURCE: Green Street Journal

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