With both environmental concern and gas prices on the rise, people are starting to realize the benefits of owning a hybrid or electric car. In the past, these cars have only represented a niche market; now, they have become the third most popular car in the world.
That's right - nearly 250,000 Prius vehicles have been sold worldwide in the first quarter of 2012, with over 86,000 of those in the United States alone. The only cars that are more popular are the Ford Focus (#2) and Toyota Corolla (#1).
Part of the reason that the Prius is so popular recently is an initiative put forth by Japan. Japanese folks get a discount of approximately $2,500 if they bought a Prius.
This news leads me to ask (and attempt to answer) three questions:
1. If the Toyota Prius is doing well, then what of the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt?
I think that, because the Prius has been on the roads for 15 years, people have adopted the Prius into the mainstream and trust them as reliable cars. The Leaf and the Volt are much newer cars, so they are being driven by early adopters – but the average Joe will probably be looking for something less “newfangled.”
2. Should the United States try a similar initiative to get people to have more fuel efficient cars?
This has already happened. If you remember, the 2009 Cash for Clunkers rebate system resulted in a staggering 700,000 older, less fuel-efficient cars being traded in for more fuel efficient rigs. One of my closest friends participated, trading in his old 18 mpg Jeep for a brand-new 35 mpg Nissan Versa. But a Versa is not a hybrid or electric car. Perhaps it is time to make that step.
(Of course, I'm always partial to the idea of making more cities bike-friendly, too!)
3. Will this trend continue for a very long time?
Well, look at the gas prices nationwide. They're especially high in Washington, Oregon, and California. How long do you think people can afford to drive gas guzzlers in those places? Or in the rest of the country? Since Corvallis is very bike-friendly, I've taken to biking most places to save gas. Those without such luck will likely need to switch to fuel efficient/hybrid/electric cars so that their wallets won't take such a whollop at the pump.
If you have anything to add, please comment! I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.