Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why do its detractors hate the Prius so much?

This is a recent example of what I'm talking about. I won't even "dignify" the author (if that's even the correct word) by providing his name.

“The millionth Prius was sold last week. A cross between a Mazda and a miscarriage - IT'S embraced by celebrities, environmentalists, and the nexus of evil: the celebrity environmentalist. Leonardo DiCaprio helms a hybrid hackeysack, allowing his conscience to remain clear while [having sex with] truckloads of broads who may or may not have been born before the Lillith [sic] Fair.”

The Toyota Prius has been vilified like this since the second generation model, introduced in the US as a 2004 model, was met with great success in the marketplace. It seems right-wingers like to emphasize Toyota's seeming "hypocrisy" in producing such a fuel-sipping car and projecting a "green" image while at the same time building a new assembly plant in Texas to crank out huge Tundra pickup trucks. Would they say the same thing if General Motors, for example, had produced such a car while simultaneously selling Silverados, Suburbans, and Hummers?

But the reality is that Toyota took a huge gamble on this car. It has paid off handsomely, especially in light of the recent spikes in gas prices. The car is simply the most fuel efficient vehicle sold in America, with EPA city/highway estimates of 48/45 mpg, under the "new" testing regimen for 2008 models.

Critics had pounced on the fact that few Prius drivers could attain the "old" city rating of 60 mpg. However, this was not the fault of the car, but rather the testing procedure which was developed long before gas-electric hybrid cars were on the drawing boards. These naysayers also liked to point out that the supposed extra initial cost of the Prius would take many years to recoup in fuel savings. This of course assumes that buyers would get a base model Corolla for thousands less and the price of gas will drop back to 2 bucks a gallon or so. Yet the Prius compares favorably with the larger Camry, as I'll explain below.

Prius haters also are fond of generalizing that Prius drivers buy the car in huge numbers because it alone has distinct styling among hybrid vehicles, and this allows the world to see how environmentally conscientious they are. Such balderdash!

My son and his wife bought a Prius one year ago as their first car. They were attracted by the fuel efficiency and the low emissions. Living in New York City, they are textbook examples of people who can make the most of the Prius's parsimonious fuel use. They also thought they'd get a huge federal tax credit of $3150, but this turned out to be a hoax due to the pernicious reach of the alternative minimum tax (a story for another day). Still they are quite pleased with the car, and they've been able to achieve average fuel economy in the 50+ mpg range. They are totally unconcerned with the image they project.

I can also state that the car has essentially as much headroom and legroom inside for 4 adults as our Camrys; the only dimension in which it is smaller is width, so 3 adults in back do not have as much hip or shoulder room. As a hatchback, the Prius actually has a larger cargo area than the Camry, and this is with the rear seats not folded down!

So let the ranters go on and on, while Toyota (and Prius owners) take their money to the bank and the rest of the automakers struggle to catch the leader!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I have a Ford F150 and a 2006 Prius. My Prius allows me to commute 45 miles to work without having to worry so much about the price of gas. I get 50 mpg and love the vehicle stability control.

I drive the Prius very similar to the Ford F150, except I can't afford to pay $150 to fill up the tanks of the F150 very often.

I live on a dirt road in the farmland of Nebraska and in the winter I get around just great with snow tires. I paid $24,500 and with the tax breaks that came to $21,000.

I wonder if some people hate me while I drive my Prius but give me the thumbs up when I drive my F150?