Hybrid Cars Hastings NE
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The Hybrid Halo Effect By Alison Lakin, Associate Editor
2009 Toyota Prius
With the newest iteration of the Toyota Prius having recently debuted at the Detroit Auto Show, it is about time to stop and take a look at all the hype surrounding this relatively unexciting, yet alarmingly popular, hybrid.
2010 Toyota Prius
2010 Honda Insight
The Prius is a “full” hybrid – one that can run on purely electric power up to a certain speed without needing the gas engine’s assistance – and because of this, it gets a fantastic 48 mpg around town and has lower emissions than most vehicles on the road. As a four-door family car, it performs the basic functions of getting from A to B just as well as any new car with four wheels and five seats. And as a Toyota, the branding symbolizes security and reliability for many Americans.
These are all appealing points, indeed – but enough to win the hearts of over one million buyers around the world? Apparently so. The Prius’ success is tremendous, despite the unfortunate body styling (a trait that has been moderately rectified in the redesign), an awkward, uninspired drive quality and high price tag.
In fact, there appears to be no reason why it should be doing any better than the Honda Civic Hybrid . Honda released a hybrid version of their popular sedan (number one best selling car in America during the gas crunch last summer) just a year after Toyota’s hybrid debut to compete against the Prius. Despite their similarity in gas mileage and emissions, reputable brand name and less than a $1,500 difference in MSRP, the Toyota outsells the Honda 5 to 1.
As usual, it all comes down to looks. The pod-like design was so out there and unlike anything on the market when it was first released that journalists exclaimed, “this will never sell!” at the media launch and scoffed that the American public wouldn’t take to the outrageous design.
Well, we were wrong.
With its extreme design that effortlessly captures attention, the Prius made eco-friendliness acceptable and, dare we say it, cool. Trendsetting celebrities came first; the ever-cool Leonardo DiCaprio bought one in 2001, and gorgeous Cameron Diaz was right behind him. Then all sorts of rich and famous types were showing up in them, limo-style, to premiers and eventually putting money down for one.
As is the nature of trends, the public soon took to the Prius like dog hair to clothing. It was suddenly everywhere! Sales figures doubled two years straight and continue to remain high. But instead of disappearing into oblivion like trapper keepers and pet rocks before it, the Prius hasn’t stopped dancing yet. This car became a symbol for the massive green revolution currently dominating our country.
This was all puppies and kittens until a less warm and fuzzy trend began to dominate: the emergence of the über Prius snob. See, Prius owners seem to be painfully...
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