I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, arguably one of the most liberal and, hopefully, eco-conscious of areas in these United States of America. One of the odd things I note is the lack of Priuses, also arguably the most eco-conscious of automobiles.
Maybe it is a West Coast thing (California sales figures for 2007: 74,737; New York: 14,580,) in my short list of Californians I know, there are three Prius owners. If one believes the statistic that 57% of Prius owners consider that "it makes a statement about [them]," I guess that Californians are more identified with their cars than New Yorkers.
Of course, the Prius has its detractors, mainly because, while its mileage is very high and its ecological standards high, it is, as this article in the Guardian states:
In planet-saving terms, that's like being the healthiest patient in intensive care.
But although that has some truth as with all exaggerations, it's certainly better to drive a Prius than a Suburban. The point maybe being made is: are you more likely to want a car at all knowing that you can buy a Prius rather than a Suburban? How much is your guilt assuaged by its mileage?
In any event, the article is worth reading, if nothing else for the comments from Prius-owners:
From a conservative politician's wife, 65 : I think it is probably true that the car imposes calm. I like driving quite fast - I'm not going to say how fast, but my speed is probably now a bit lower than it was. People don't quite toot when you see them in the street, but there is a warm feeling when you see another Prius. Our friend John Standing, the actor, has one. He greets us and says: "Ah, my fellow Prius owners."
An organic farmer, 45: It's the only car I've ever been in love with....I can't imagine having road rage with this car.
A dentist, 55: I'm getting obsessed by it. It makes me feel a bit virtuous. I took my sister-in-law for a ride on Sunday evening and she was impressed. And she drives a Mercedes CLK, too.
Salient points: Not one driver under 45! Where are the environmentally conscious younger English drivers? Many mentioned the pleasure in "belonging to a club" as other drivers wave and "hoot" at them on the road. Many mentioned it makes them "calm"...a consequence of its relative silence? The opposite of the snarling Ferrari?
But it's better than the alternatives.