The Toyota Prius, the next Louis Vuitton Purse

Much like a new Louis Vuitton purse, people are more concerned about how they are perceived than they are with some of the marketed benefits of a driving a hybrid.

TreeHugger.com recently posted a poll that asked people why they drive a Toyota Prius.

Here are the results…

It almost seems like that driving a Prius or any hybrid is becoming the next trendy thing to do. I predict that driving a hybrid to Pinkberry, and carrying your pooch in a Louis Vuitton Purse, with a carbon fiber commuter bicycle on a roof rack will be the next big “thing”.


17 Comments

  1. BodhiSativa May 27, 2008 7:52 pm 

    Not to mention the amount of waste in production, transportation and disposal of batteries to power this gluttonous “green” vehicle.
    One can only hope that this technology will lead to more efficiency in future transportation.

  2. Renai May 27, 2008 9:07 pm 

    For some reason- I’ve noticed that I almost get hit by people driving Prius’s (Prei?) more any other vehicle. I swear that at least once a day on my commute I have someone in a Prius speed past me within a few feet. They’re probably bitter than I’m being more eco-friendly than they are.

  3. Renai May 27, 2008 9:09 pm 

    Holy typos. Try that again:

    *

    For some reason- I’ve noticed that I almost get hit by people driving Prius’s (Prei?) more than any other vehicle. I swear that at least once a day on my commute I have someone in a Prius speed past me within a few feet. They’re probably bitter that I’m being more eco-friendly than they are.

  4. Ghost Rider May 27, 2008 9:33 pm 

    I think hybrids are a step in the right direction, and such vehicles will only get better as the technology and market matures, but I think Treehugger is right on: there is this “aura” about them as the must have accessory for the smug, upscale “greenie”.

    That’s not to disparage ALL Prius or other hybrid drivers…I know a couple of ’em locally, and they are anything but smug about their vehicle choice — merely concerned citizens who were early adopters of the technology.

  5. Tim May 28, 2008 5:21 am 

    IT’s ironic that what makes the Prius so sucessfull is its image value. When you see a Prius, you know that it’s a hybrid, which is not the case for other hybrids, like the Civic, RX400h, etc. where the hybrid version is an option.
    While I’m less impressed that people are buying for the image, it’s not such a bad image to promote, and it sure beats the H2 image. I worked for a while in the automotive industry and learned there that car purchases are primarily emotional, and rationality is usually only a small part of the purchasing decision.
    I’m not surprised by the result, and I would expect a similar result for any other car purchase. People use their cars (and bikes, too, probably) as a means of self expression. That’s just the way it is.

  6. Mike C May 28, 2008 6:05 am 

    When the second-gen Prius first came out, I thought, “Wow, what a great looking car–if it had a regular engine/drivetrain, I’d be all over it.” In a Hong Kong Toyota dealership, they had a cutaway car, showing the drivetrain working. Interesting to see how all the components work together. But I do wonder how efficient a regular old 4 cyl engine would be in such an aerodynamic car–might be that the weight savings combined with all the other energy saving features on the car would make it nearly as efficient anyway?

    Anyone seen the South Park episode where Kyle’s parents buy a Prius and move to SF? Hilarious. Watch out for that smug.

    I need to get bumper stickers made up:

    My motorcycle gets better milage than your hybrid.

    Just to cut down on the smug level a bit. Substitute “bicycle” for motorcycle and it’s even better. I read somewhere recently (have no idea where I saw it, maybe even here), that the food equivalent of energy compared to gas means we get approximately 3000 mpg on a bicycle.

  7. cafn8 May 28, 2008 6:35 am 

    What strikes me as a little strange is that 38% said that it saves them money. Does anyone know what the break-even point in miles driven is, comparing the cost if the hybrid-equipped car to a straight gas powered car?
    The break-even mileage certainly gets shorter as the cost of gas goes up, but I wonder how maintenance and repairs on the additional systems factors in.
    I think I’ll just keep riding my bike and save myself the math.

  8. Ghost Rider May 28, 2008 6:51 am 

    Tim, that’s a good point — the car has long been a status symbol and a reflection of someone’s personality…there’s nothing new about that, and this phenomenon didn’t suddenly appear with the introduction of hybrids.

    We do tend to buy our vehicles based on emotional thoughts…and that probably even applies to bicycles from time to time (“do I want this practical machine, or should I buy this pretty, swoopy ‘go-fast’ bike?”)

  9. Iron Man May 28, 2008 9:04 am 

    I’m eyeing a new Bianchi. I’ll be way more smug on that than those Toyota drivers. Marco Pantani never drove a Prius.

  10. Paul Rivers May 28, 2008 9:06 am 

    I’m not sure how you could really compare buying an expensive purse to buying a Prius. One image says “I’m rich and have way to much free time on my hands”, the other says “I’m putting my money where my mouth is when it comes to being environmentally friendly”.

  11. RL May 28, 2008 9:10 am 

    Paul,

    I’m not comparing the two, I’m merely stating that people are buying hybrids for the status symbol much like some men and women buy LV items…its to look good.

    If you look at the poll, the 39% shows that people are buying them to look good.

  12. Dominic Dougherty May 28, 2008 9:45 am 

    “I’m putting my money where my mouth is when it comes to being environmentally friendly?.
    Then why don’t I see more people driving a 1989 Geo Metro? It get’s the same MPG, costs 40% of the Prius, uses less resources to produce, and comes in more colors!

  13. Ghost Rider May 28, 2008 10:07 am 

    AMEN, Dominic! There are lots of old cars out there that get very similar gas mileage to the new Priuses (Prei?) at a fraction of the cost. But, as you know, Americans have to have new things all the time, and a ratty old Metro just doesn’t have the cachet a style-conscious “green” consumer needs!

    We used to joke about Metros: “hey, I heard Singer stopped making replacement parts for your motor”, but by God those cars were incredibly fuel-efficient.

  14. Paul Rivers May 28, 2008 2:59 pm 

    “Paul,

    I’m not comparing the two, I’m merely stating that people are buying hybrids for the status symbol much like some men and women buy LV items…its to look good.

    If you look at the poll, the 39% shows that people are buying them to look good.”

    Not exactly – the poll says that 39% are buying a Prius because it “makes a statement about them”. That’s not quite the same as saying that they’re doing it to “look good”. For example, let’s say I wear around a t-shirt that says “Bike Commuting – it saves you money at the pump AND you don’t have to pay someone else to exercise!” This t-shirt is designed to be eye-catching, so it’s blaze orange with right yellow text (haha). I’m wearing the t-shirt because it makes a statement about me – I’m all for bike commuting – but it does NOT make me look good (it’s ugly!).

    I also wonder if the statment some people are making is “I want my car to be more fuel efficient so I can stop paying money to the oil companies”. Maybe some conservatives statement is “I support energy independence and don’t want to keep sending my money to the middle east”. The difference between making a statement and looking good is – If the Prius got mediocre fuel economy but looked the same, would they still buy it?

    I think C is worded weirdly, to – why does it say “carbon emmissions” rather than “car emmisions” or “car pollution”? Hmm…I just wonder.

  15. Paul Rivers May 28, 2008 3:01 pm 

    “Then why don’t I see more people driving a 1989 Geo Metro? It get’s the same MPG, costs 40% of the Prius, uses less resources to produce, and comes in more colors!”

    Because most people put safety above fuel economy?

  16. Paul Rivers May 28, 2008 3:04 pm 

    Plus, a 1989 Geo Metro isn’t exactly reliable…even if it was super reliable to begin with, a car that’s more than 18 years old may not be your best choice for making sure you get where you’re going every time. :-)

    …you do see some people driving around Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris’s nowadays, though they don’t get as good of mileage (frankly, it’s the same as the civic and corolla, so most people go that route).

  17. Moe May 28, 2008 3:11 pm 

    Some people do put fuel economy above safety. Google “Hypermiling”. Most of these drivers are also hybrid drivers.

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