Hybrids a rare bright spot for the auto industry

I was struck by the August U.S. car sales reports, and couldn’t help making a quick comparison to the same reports for hybrids.

The bottom line: overall car sales through the end of August are tanking in the U.S., down 11.2% from the first 8 months of 2007. Light trucks are the heaviest anchor here, down a phenomenal 22.1% from the same period last year. Hybrids, on the other hand, are a bright spot for the industry, actually notching a 0.4% increase over the first eight months of last year.

What’s causing this disparity, beyond the obvious gas savings in a hybrid over a truck or regular sedan? It’s not as though hybrids are being deeply discounted, the way other vehicle classes are (anybody want 40% off on a Dodge Ram pickup? Anyone?). In fact, with Prius inventories down, apparently because of battery scarcity as far back as May, and prices no doubt rising to compensate for the scarcity, it seems there’s more going on than meets the eye.

My guess? Though some hybrid buyers are surely buying to save gas and money, many more continue to buy to lower their carbon footprints, and perhaps to make a bit of a statement while they’re at it. I think it’s the same dynamic that leads so many people to buy carbon offsets, actually — though some TerraPass buyers ditch their cars altogether, for an awful lot of people it’s just not practical to do that in the short run, so they start looking for other ways to mitigate their impact.

However, since our handy customer survey tells me that almost 20% of our TerraPass customers own a hybrid, I thought I’d ask — what was your primary motivation for buying? And are you happy with the result? Let me know in the comments. And congratulations to all of you who have taken the plunge since we ran our survey back in early July!

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erik

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  1. Jay - September 8, 2008

    My 50 mile per day solo commute in a 2.5-ton gas-guzzling monstrosity was giving me a terrible guilt trip, but for a long time, I didn’t think I could drive a small car (I’m a rather large guy). I wasn’t comfortable in any of the small cars that I had test driven, so I gave up and bought an SUV. But, a friend of mine kept bugging me to try driving his Prius. The day that finally did drive it around the block and realized that it was every bit as comfortable as my SUV, I drove straight to the local Toyota dealer and traded in my barely used SUV for a Prius. That was back in February (superbowl sunday, actually), when you still COULD unload an SUV. I’ve been delighted with 52 mpg and complete comfort ever since.

  2. Audrey - September 10, 2008

    I often travel to places in the northeast that get lots of snow in the winter. My SUV has made me feel safe when driving on ice and (occasionally deep) snow. I would love to drive a Prius instead of my SUV but I’m concerned about how it will handle in tough winter conditions. I would love to hear the scoop from Prius owners who have driven in similar conditions.

  3. Paul Cannaley - September 10, 2008

    My wife bought a Prius in 2002 for its low environmental impact. We enjoyed the car so much that when it came time to replace my car I got a 2007 Prius. I was able to get it with 0% interest and $400 over invoice in March 2007. Both cars are reliable, comfortable, reduce our carbon footprint, and handle 95% of our driving needs. One week a year we rent a mini-van to go on vacation. We couldn’t be happier with our decision.

  4. Kim - September 10, 2008

    Our 1998 Jeep Cherokee was dying, and getting 14mpg. My husband drives 60 miles per day. We did the math, and bought the Prius. We are paying for half the new car with the money saved on gas. We love the car so much! People think “It’s too expensive!” Not! “It’s small!” Come on, now, how much space do you really need? Do you need to be able to carry 10 bales of hay? We do just fine, the three of us, with this wonderful car. When my 1997 Saturn wagon finally goes, we’re replacing her with hopefully a plug-in Prius, or if it lasts long enough, a fully electric car.

  5. Anonymous - September 10, 2008

    I went from a Dodge Ram 1500 quad-cab to a Ford Escape Hybrid. I love it, although I miss being able to haul some things. My daughter was getting ready to start driving and the truck was way to large for a new driver. We didn’t want to buy an additional car for her, so I decided to get rid of my truck and get something smaller. We wanted to buy American and I wanted a hybrid. I love my Escape. I average about 32 mpg. I’ve had it for 18 months and just turned 10,000 miles. I don’t feel guilty for driving an SUV because I’m getting good gas mileage and don’t put a lot of miles on a vehicle. The cloth on the seats are also made from recycled materials.

  6. Kathy - September 10, 2008

    We bought our Civic Hybrid in 2003 to lower our carbon footprint. We’ve averaged 55.2 miles per gallon for the last 100,000 miles! While the Prius gets lots more press because it can run on the electric motor alone, it was designed to get the best mileage in stop and go city traffic. The Civic Hybrids, however, do best on the open road. On some trips we’ve even gotten as much as 60 mpg! We live rurally and are mostly on state routes and interstates and have learned to drive a bit differently, too – more coasting, not much over 60 mph, etc. We love this car!

  7. Chad Hazen - September 10, 2008

    Oddly enough, buying my 2006 Prius was pretty much an impulse purchase. I was driving a 2005 Infiniti G35 (my first-ever new car purchase). I had it less than a year, with only about 5k miles on it. And I really loved driving it.
    I was visiting a friend in Santa Monica, CA, in late December 2005, and saw all these Priuses (or is it Prii?). It hit me that that’s what I should be driving. Simply because I thought it was the right thing to do.
    When I got back to Dallas in January ’06, I went to the Toyota dealer. While friends of mine in Los Angeles said there was a waiting list for a Prius–and that you had no choice of color or options/package–things were different in Texas! I said I wanted the red one with the ‘top’ package. They had it on the lot.
    What made it even a bit more interesting is that since I was truly happy driving my G35, I walked away from the dealer when they said “you know, these are selling for [$3500] over sticker price, right?” I didn’t walk away to play hardball, but rather really couldn’t justify paying over the list price for something (it’s the same reason I won’t stand in line behind a velvet rope waiting to get into a bar!). But, a few days later they called back and worked with me on the price (and increased the trade-in value of my G). I still paid over sticker, but with the tax credit being given at the time, I got the justification I needed.
    Do I like my Prius? Well, yes, now I do. At first, I was REALLY displeased because of the touted “60 city, 50 hwy mileage” was nowhere near what I was getting. Even to this day, my combined average is 42 mpg. That still gets me a bit annoyed, but I recognize that it’s still a lot better than 99% of the cars out there. And I’m sure I could do a bit better, but my driving style is one by which I like to get up to speed rather quickly (hey, gimme a break, I had the 6-speed manual G35 before this!).
    Finally, as a side note, I’m now (back) living in LA, where my Prius has a lot more buddies than it had in Dallas when I lived there (on more than one occasion, it’s been parked in a row of three side-by-side-by-side Priuses!). I did visit Dallas a few months back, and there are definitely more Priuses on the road there now. Good.

  8. Amy - September 10, 2008

    I bought a Ford Escape Hybrid at the end of June to replace my aging Toyota minivan. I was worried about giving up passenger space for my kids and their friends but, so far, this has not been an issue. I had been considering the Toyota Highlander Hybrid to get 7 passenger seating, but the price was too high for the small increase in fuel efficiency.
    The Escape is great. I drive mostly around suburbia (over 1000 miles per month)and do better than the EPA estimate by getting 34 to 37 mpg. It has been fun to learn how to maximize the mpg. We even took it on our summer vacation 1600 miles round trip to Vermont loaded with 4 bicycles, 2 sets of golf clubs and luggage, getting about 29 mpg for the trip. The Escape Hybrid is a great “soccer mom”/family car.

  9. dan - September 10, 2008

    I bought mine for a statement about reducing my carbon footprint. I love it when people ask if it will ever pay for itself. I reply that it will no more than their car pays for itself. I too was disappointed at the mileage vs. the claimed mileage, but as I drove it more, it got better and better. I now average about 50 in the city and 54 on the highway. I rarely drive over 65 and I am never the lead car on the road unless there’s just nobody else around. I don’t tailgate or anything, I stay about 2-3 seconds behind others and try to follwo the biggest vehicle I can that’s going about my speed.
    Safe? someone pulled out in front of me while I was doing almost 40. I don’t know that my foot even had time to make it to the brake pedal and I plowed into him. smashed the whole front end, but my air bags didnt’ even go off. It irked me at first, thinking something was wrong with the car, but the officer showed me the airbag sensors and they were just missed and said that was normal. the only injuries I had was from the seatbelt across my shoulder, and that was minor. Granted, the ins company has paid 16k in repairs and there’s still problems, and I have yet to find a good toyota service shop (I could tell you some very laughable stories about crap they’ve told me).
    I have absolutely, hands down never loved a car as much as I love my Prius though. The problems it does have now are because of the completely lame body shop that did the poor repairs on the car.

  10. Jim - September 10, 2008

    I’m on my 2nd Prius and was only getting 42 mpg. I knew I could do better so after inflating my tires to 40 psi and giving up speeding, the mileage is now 52.1. With more coasting and smarter driving 55 to 60 mpg is probably possible. I drive about 80% hwy and 20% city. Any suggestions on how to get betteer mileage would be appreciated.

  11. Erin - September 10, 2008

    I bought a 2008 Camry Hybrid 10 months ago before the gas prices went through the roof. For me, it was as much a statement as savings on mileage. I live in Northern VA just outside of DC and my commute is only 12 miles but still, at 36 – 38 miles per galloon in stop and go, it’s exceptional mileage compared to my old Toyota Forerunner.

  12. Joy - September 10, 2008

    I chose a Prius because of the guilt I was feeling every time I drove my Cabrio. The Cabrio got about 33 miles to the gallon, but it was nothing like the 50 mpgs I get now. Knowing that I am doing something green that I can afford really makes me feel good and less guilty. I drive around 50 miles a day, so I am really saving on gas too.

  13. landsnark - September 10, 2008

    I don’t quite belong here, as I will probably *not* buy a hybrid, but it may be relevant to say why. I currently drive a ’92 Escort with 222k miles, and get about 30 mpg. I drive very little (usually a month or more between fillups) and use public transportation or walk as much as possible (including for my work commute and most of my daily activities). I’ve been thinking about new cars for about 8 years, as I thought the Escort “couldn’t last much longer”!
    But now we have a baby due next spring, my husband’s car is a 2-seater and won’t take a car seat, and I need a car as backup for trips where I can’t walk or bus with a baby. I think I’m going to buy a Honda Fit in the next few months. As little as I drive, the difference in fuel economy–28/34 for the Fit, 48/45 for the Prius–makes it very hard to justify the $8000 price difference. I would *love* to have a Prius but I can’t really wait a few more years until hybrid prices come more in line with other cars.
    I hate to be this way, but it comes down to the money for me. OTOH I’m THRILLED that the demand for hybrids is so high that the prices are staying up–I think that’s really positive. If I drove more, I would come up with the money for the hybrid.

  14. Tim B - September 10, 2008

    I purchased my Prius in Dec 2001 to try to prevent war. After the 9/11 attacks, I felt it was the least I could do to reduce my consumption of foreign oil. At that time, it didn’t take a genius to foresee that the forces of greed would exploit the 9/11 attacks as justification to start a war for oil in Iraq. The evidence is massive that the 9/11 attacks themselves were orchestrated by our govt and covered up–see the writings of David Ray Griffin. Do not dismiss this as mere “conspiracy theory”. It is too important for our nation. The Bush administration lied about the reasons for war and hundreds of thousands are dead…why should 9/11 be such a taboo topic, when the character of the people behind these things is clearly murderous?

  15. Sheri - September 10, 2008

    I just got my 2008 Prius. I have wanted one for years but was concerned with safety. The roads in Central Florida are filled with monlithic SUVs. But actually the Prius is safer than the 1999 Lexus I was driving. Insurance cheaper too.
    Toyota has reduced the mileage rating. It is now at 48. My sales rep says he sold one to a hypermiler who is getting 70mpg. I haven’t yet researched how. I am still learning how to maximize my driving to get better.
    Some people tried to talk me out of it. My accountant talked about the cost vs other fuel efficient cars. For me it is about the amount of gas used. I also want to support emerging technology. I want to make a statement too. I could drive any car I want and hybrid is my choice.

  16. Kim - September 10, 2008

    On a recent trip, 450 miles, we averaged 57 mpg. Keep the tires inflated correctly. Pretend there’s a raw egg on the gas pedal. Do not let the tank get too close to empty, crud from the bottom of the tank will mess with the gas filter. We regularly get 48-50mpg, mostly highway, some city driving.

  17. 2wheeler - September 10, 2008

    I bought my 2000 Insight as an intended statement to the auto manufacturers that “if you build a high mpg hybrid, we will buy”. Carbon footprint was on my mind back then, too. I knew that burning half the gas would equate to half the CO2 of my old vehicle.
    Convinced that hybrids are for real, I drove it for daily commuting for 5 years. And my wife bought a used (former rental) 04 Prius. It’s a great solid car and plenty of room. When we go on trips by plane, we make a point of renting a Prius at the other end (Toyota Rent A Car, at many dealers); it’s a great way to feel at home and save on fuel costs.
    We have 2 older cars (a minivan and wagon) that we use rarely now, mostly for local camping trips and hauling our canoe or bikes. They will last forever at this rate.
    Even though we own the hybrids, I bike to work. It’s great exercise and zero carbon footprint. On bad weather days I bus to work. Terrapass is a great way for us to zero out our footprint, once we’ve done the other stuff we can.
    Note: we’re still doing more, this year we installed a rain barrel at home, a solar powered attic vent fan to help keep our house cooler, and now I’m putting a modern, insulated, quiet powered attic fan in the ceiling (85% less energy than air conditioning) for use in the evenings. Maybe someday solar PV but our state has zero incentives for them right now.

  18. Howie - September 10, 2008

    I’m on my second Prius. The first, a 2001, was confiscated by my 85 year-old mother in late 2003 because it’s so much easier to get into than was her Saturn. My present 2004 model has 105,000 trouble-free miles. I get an average of 58 mpg in the Summer, dropping to about 54 in Winter conditions here in NH. The Prius is excellent in the snow, by the way. I have a flexible solar array on the roof that gets me about 1.5-2.0 mpg boost, but the panels are difficult to obtain due to production priorities at the factory. My next car will undoubtedly be a plug-in or pure electric. I hope the US manufacturers have their act together by the time I’m ready to buy. If not, I’ll stick with Toyota.

  19. orracle - September 10, 2008

    I bought my Prius used a year ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. In the summer I average over 56 mpg and about 10 mpg less in the Chicago area winters.
    It impressed my husband so much, he got in line for a 2008 and is getting in the low to mid 50′s for mpg.
    I got it initially for the mileage and then was impressed with the low carbon footprint. We try to do a lot of green things and our 2 Prii are a big part.
    For all the other readers who aren’t getting in the 50′s or higher (my best tank was 61.5) please check out web sites like priuschat.com–you will find a wealth of information and driving tips there. YOU can do it!!

  20. Carolyn Stout - September 10, 2008

    My purchase of a Honda Civic hybrid in 2005 came about because my car at the time was wrecked by another driver. My son, who had attended a college in the Northeast that was really into environmental things suggested a hybrid. I ignored the idea, thinking it was new technology that would have lots of kinks to be worked out. After some research that supported the technology of the hybrid and becoming convinced of our part in global warming by an alumni class at Middlebuy College, I bought one and have been very happy with it. Strangers have even tried to buy it out from under me!

  21. Tracy - September 10, 2008

    I was excited about aiding the new technology while reducing my pollution. However, the main motivation was our invasion of Iraq, which I linked to securing our access to Mideast (not just Iraqi) oil. I wanted to reduce my contribution to future battles over oil.

  22. Colleen - September 10, 2008

    We have 2 children and were looking to buy something bigger to accomodate carpooling for camp, outings, etc. Our consciences would not allow us to buy a big gas guzzling, polluting minivan or SUV. So we opted for the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Does it get crazy good gas mileage? No. But it gets better mpg than my VW Passat does when driving around town (which is 90% of our driving). Plus when I’m at a stop (and not burning any gas), with the car full of 4 kids, I feel rather smug and I like that. Plus it’s great car!!

  23. Chuck - September 10, 2008

    I bought a Honda Insight (VIN # 150) in 2000 because I had a 70 mile daily commute and being an engineer, was excited about the technology. I had carpooled in the past but wasn’t able to continue so the hybrid relieved some of the guilt. Saving gas (and therefore $$) was important but reducing pollution was most important to me.
    My Insight is still going strong with over 170,000 miles on it. My long-term average mileage was 63 mpg while I was commuting, some times able to do the round trip at over 70mpg.
    I now work from home and my average mileage is closer to 55 mpg but it’s still better than most any car available today. My dilemma is what to (eventually) replace it with that wouldn’t represent a decrease in mileage!

  24. KIRK - September 10, 2008

    I bought a 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid because it not only was a personal choice to reduce my carbon footprint but also because I favoredthe looks of the car over the Prius. It gets me about 33 mpg in town and up to 38 mpg on the freeway. That is at least 70% better mileage than my previous Honda Accord so I cannot complain. There is one thing about it that I found is a negative and that is the amount of EMF (electro magnetic field) in the back seat. It is off the charts (over 50 milligauss) coming from the battery. I will have to write Nissan and Ralph Nader and ask them to consider shielding the passengers in future models in the back seat as it is not good especially for babies and small kids for every day long term magnetic field exposure. I guess that it is the same with all hybrids. I do not take passengers in the back seat often so it is not a concern of mine.
    I cannot wait to somehow convert it to a full plug in hybrid as I too have solar panels on my roof and can’t wait to plug it in at night. This is the only way to go and show Bin Laden and all the “big oil” drilling lobby that we do not need you anymore!

  25. Kim - September 10, 2008

    Kirk, for your solar panels, do you have batteries in the basement?

  26. BadgerGrrl - September 10, 2008

    We bought our Prius in 2007 and love it. We got the Option 2 version and paid $22,600 (not including taxes or license). Our reason for buying it was to reduce our carbon footprint.
    It’s been a terrific car in every way. We average 45 miles per gallon. We probably would get better mileage if we did not live in such a hilly neighborhood.

  27. uncleben - September 10, 2008

    I love my Prius! Safe reliable car, that saves gas and reduces pollution. Hard to make an argument against that. Consumer Reports also gives many good reports on hybrids.

  28. margi - September 10, 2008

    I bought my 2004 Prius right after it was named ‘Car of the Year’. I’d been thinking about it since I first heard about hybrids some years before, but I had a perfectly good Escort which got decent mileage. Lucky for me, I have a friend with a dealership and only had to wait one month. I bought it totally for environmental reasons, I drive a lot. The savings in the surging gas prices was a BIG bonus. I get 50+ miles on the highway, but not nearly the 60 mpg they advertise for the city – more like 40-45 (I live in NYC) I love it, I love driving it and will never get a gas-guzzler again.

  29. dustin - September 10, 2008

    Audrey – we live in NE Ohio and Prius is LOUSY in the snow! The traction control system essentially stops you from forward progress. That being said, it only snows about 4 days out of the year now to where we can’t use it. WE do what people used to do 30 years ago before 4WD was so rampant – we stay in the house and read a book! If you’re in VT, NH or in a snowbelt region of OH/PA/NY – Subaru is the best ticket.
    We bought our Prius Jan 2007 when gas was 2.20. We watched Inconvenient Truth the night before. Only after I was lamenting the big dent in my bank account did I realize it was a very smart financial move as well! We saved almost $5,000 in fuel costs alone over the last 18 months.
    Just last week we sold the Prius for about $2500 less than we paid. Picked up a VW TDI and converted to run on waste veggie oil. Although emmissions are more, we weigh our reduced contribution to foreign resource conflict as a higher priority. Never been a war over used veggie grease!

  30. Howie - September 10, 2008

    Margi, Coastal Electronics in Florida sells an easy-to-install kit that allows you to operate on pure electric power under 35 mph for at least a few miles. I’ve found that this is a big help in city driving and can boost your mileage considerably. My ’04 got to the dealership the day after it was named “car of the year”, so there went my pricing leverage! I installed the “battery only” kit the next day and found that I could get at least 50 mpg for short trips. Of course, nothing’s free, and the battery recharges as soon as you go faster than 35 with the engine turning on automatically.

  31. Howie - September 10, 2008

    Dustin-You are right about the traction control issue. The car seems to die for a few seconds when you want to accelerate on slippery roadways, (and it seems like it’s always when a semi is on your bumper) but that’s not a bad tradeoff to my mind versus the AWD all the time poor mileage of the Subarus. Now if Subaru had a hybrid, that might be worth considering.

  32. Paul - September 10, 2008

    The OEM tires (Goodyear Integrity’s on mine) were terrible. Hydroplaned regularly and didn’t last long. Switched to Michelin Harmonies and the traction issues went away. I lost 1 – 2 MPG, but I felt more at ease in bad weather.

  33. Jay - September 10, 2008

    I bought a Prius primarily to reduce carbon footprint and to support the investment in alternative energy strategies. This was just before the spike in gasoline prices, so the cost saving is a nice side benefit. The car is also better suited to my overall driving needs.

  34. P Stover - September 10, 2008

    I bought my Honda Insight in 2002. Milage averages 55.6 for the life of the car mostly because I have lots of stop lights and signs on my commute. I love the car for it’s sleek design and its great fuel economy. I don’t drive that much so I only fill up about every 6 weeks. My only complaint is that it only has 2 seats. I think they could have included a third “jump” seat. I’m am eagerly awaiting the new designs coming out soon, but I don’t know if I am willing to give up (trade in) my beloved Insight. Honda will have to come up with something as great as the Insight.

  35. Tamara - September 10, 2008

    My mom and I have always been real “treehuggers:” we wash and reuse baggies, recycle, buy energy-star appliances and are real misers with the utilities. Mom was nuts about the idea of a hybrid car and bought an ’03 Honda Insight as soon as it came out, once us kids were pretty much on our own. My folks loved traveling together knowing that they were saving money and reducing their carbon emissions – they took trips they had always wanted (and totally deserved) to take and could stay on a budget with less guilt. When her back started to get worse and she was having a hard time getting in and out of the little car (with the lowest drag coefficient on the road), my husband and I bought it from her.

    I remember begging her every time I visited “Mom, can I please drive the Insight?” Now we own the car and sometimes I still have to beg; my husband has really gotten into “hyper-miling” and constantly seeks to outdo his personal best trips! He averages 71 MPG while I come in at 65 MPG (I bike more, so “n’yuh”).

    It really fits our two-person lifestyle, although we have to keep my Saturn 4-door around for hurricane evacuations (us and the cats won’t fit in the Insight). We are delighted to know that other folks are catching on, but we are always looking to move on to the next level! The Saturn may become a trade-in for the 2010 Honda Fit Hybrid…but don’t tell ‘er!

  36. Swiny - September 10, 2008

    My Prius is the best all around car I have every owned. I bought my Prius back in December 2007 to lower my carbon footprint as I have an 80 mile roundtrip commute to work everyday and there are no other options other than driving to work. I also purchased it to make a statement to my friends and co-workers that the time is now to put a “stake in the ground” and start to tackle climate change. We have only a few short years to turn the tide and create a sea change in our transportation and electrical generation.

  37. Chris R - September 10, 2008

    I’ve had a 2008 Prius for ~6months, and love it. I drive ~550km (340mi) each week (my practices are in rural Ontario) and get 5 L/100km ( 47 mpg). It’s a smooth, quiet ride better than my last cars’.
    Further, I’m awaiting delivery of m Hymotion battery pack, allowing me to plug in my Prius and hopefully get at least 4 L/100km (59mpg).
    I’m dong it purely to minimize my carbon footprint, although it’s nice to see the savings [about $30 weekly, as prices are ~1.20/L ($4.54 /gal)].
    The car is roomy enough for the 4 of us (2 kids) to do most things, but tent camping is a bit cramped.

  38. Jeff - September 10, 2008

    I have a 2007 Hybrid Camry – am very happy with it overall. The combination of a built-in mileage meter and ability to watch where the power is going (from engine vs. battery into drive train or from rolling/brakes into battery) makes it both easy and fun to drive carefully. Mileage isn’t stellar like a Prius, but I believe I average a respectable 34 – 39 on my commute. Feel perfectly safe/comfortable driving as it is a midsize.
    The one negative was with the availability of a basic model – being naturally frugal I initially went looking for one and found there were almost none in my local area (Southern California) – so I ended up spring for the midrange model. I did manage to negotiate them down a bit on the price by seriously asking them to tow a standard model
    for me to buy from out of town. :-)

  39. Albert - September 10, 2008

    We have two identical 2002 Honda Insights in our household. I get a life time gas consumption of 66 mpg on mine (hers is considerably lower at 56 because of the way she drives). I only put on 2,5000 miles a year in my Insight. So I fill up my tank once every spring, summer, fall and winter. I also have a 400cc motor-scooter which I put on about 2,000 miles a year. It gives about 64 mpg. It’s simple to maintain and higher on the fun factor. These two are mostly weekend vehicles and for longer trips. On weekdays, I ride my 27-speed bicycle to work. Parking at work cost $350. Leaving my bike in my office costs nothing but I feel good about riding also. We are looking at downsizing to one Insight some day. Or trading both Insights in for a future 4-seater.

  40. Michelle - September 11, 2008

    I purchased a Prius last May ’07 with my husbands encouragement. I had been thinking about it on and off for about a year and was very interested in the Hybrid concept. Although I loved my 2000 Blazer it only averaged 16-17MPG city. One night during the local dealerships birthday sellathon we went down and test drove one. We were hooked! They only had one on the lot for sale (all the others were already sold) so we put down a deposit with a specific color and package option we wanted. It took about 3 weeks to get our car but we love it and would do it all over again. By the way, I consistently get 46-50 MPG in the city and I now fill up only once a month instead of every week. If you can get one I urge everyone to buy one. It is the right thing to do and helps brings our nation one step closer to ending our dependance on foreign oil.

  41. Lane - September 11, 2008

    Have had an Escape hybrid for two years – 30,000 miles. Purchased for fuel economy. Love it. No problems. Fuel economy varies with temperature in Wisconsin: 37-38 summer down to 26 coldest months. Year average 33 and change.

  42. kim - September 11, 2008

    Lane, I have an 97′ saturn wagon that gets 32 mpg. For an almost new hybrid, I wouldn’t go bragging about 33 mpg . :-)

  43. Gail - September 11, 2008

    We bought our 2002 Prius because of environmental concerns – loved it, but when the 2004 next generation came out my husband liked the newer body style and increased mpg’s. We live in the NW (lots of Prius’ live here) where the climate is mild and the terrain is mountainous. We average about 52mpg – a little less in winter and a little more in summer. We have found using maximum tire pressure really makes a differnece in mpg’s. We towed our Prius behind our diesel pusher and upped our mpg average to 21.5mpg overall, so felt better about our travel choice, too. Our daughter also is on her second Prius -2005 and now 2008. She lives in MN. Her Prius does great even in snow – she did get the extra stabilization feature. Once the plug-ins are available we will replace our 2004.

  44. Bob - September 12, 2008

    We own a 2005 Prius and a 2006 RX400H. The Lexus SUV (my job requires off road use) averages 26MPG and has over 80,000 miles, with the original brakes and no maintenance problems!
    The main reasons why we own two hybrids:
    1. to send a message to car makers and the car buying public
    2. Lowers pollution out of the tail pipe, especially when in traffic!
    3. these are the most technically advanced cars out there today, and
    4. my adult kids think they are very cool!

  45. Ed - September 13, 2008

    Albert (#39):
    Do you want a job as head of energy/transportation/environmental policy for this country? You’re a shining example.
    Actually all these comments are encouraging. There are people out there who care!

  46. Tracy - September 13, 2008

    I was tired of 19mpg in our Subaru Outback and saw the gas usage as incredibly wasteful. My lifetime average with the Prius is 48mpg. I actually drive it very little since I usually bicycle to work and to do errands. My wife uses the car to take the kids to school, get groceries and take trips that are 10+ miles. I am just not willing to give money for oil to people in countries that want to kill me and I will pay a price premium to avoid it. I am also of the belief that our current transportation habits are completely unsustainable as a nation and if we do not change, we will destroy our country if not our entire bioshpere.

  47. Albert - September 16, 2008

    Thanks for your nomination, Ed (#45). We can’t control how others live but we have control of our own action. I hope more people see the benefit of being frugal and mindful of our limited natural resources. If more of us do our share of leaving as small a carbon footprint on this earth as possible, this will be a better place to live. Drill, baby, drill is not the answer.

  48. Erik - September 16, 2008

    Thank you one and all for your comments. They are inspiring. I’m impressed with the range of reasons for purchasing hybrids, beyond gas savings and green cred, including sending a message to the auto manufacturers and government powers that be. And I’m even more impressed with your all taking the time to write them up for everyone here. Thank you.