Friday, July 06, 2007

We were right about these people


They are proud of themselves. Prius owners: Everything is a political statement. Ugh.

13 comments:

g_rob said...

They also drive too fast and smoke dope among other narcotics. Except for my mom. She owns one, it's not a political statement, and she drives so slow you would think she's stoned. But she's not.

Stephen said...

I am not saying every Prius owner is a jerk, just the ones who would choose a Prius over another hybrid or transportation choice because they want their car to function as a giant bumper sticker. As I posted a while back, you can get the same mileage out of a mid-1980s CRX, or, even better a motorcycle, or bike, or take public transportation. It reminds me of something Tom said when we were picking up the wine for my wedding at Trader Joes. He looked around the store and said, "These people are so proud of themselves for shopping here."

Robert C. said...

Some of them are making a political statement. Others might want to minimize their gas use or minimize their emissions. But what's wrong with thinking that a Prius says something about them? It does--it says they have some wealth, and that they want people to know that they care about the environment. We make judgments about people that way--when I see someone driving a Hummer, I know that person is an a-hole.

I jest. Sort of. The Prius is a great car. You can't always take public transportation. You can't always drive a mid-1980s CRX, motorcycles are dangerous, and you can't drive your family around in a bike. Buying a Prius makes sense for lots of people.

Is there something wrong with being proud of yourself for recycling, or buying organic food, or shopping at Trader Joe's? What is it?

g_rob said...

I'm really not sure that driving a Prius makes the statement, "I have money." I know more than a couple people that drive them and do so on a very tight budget.

Can anyone confirm the rumor I've heard that, for some reason, a Prius in Japan gets better gas mileage? Like twice as many miles to the gallon?

Stephen said...

The point of the article is that these particular people could have chosen to drive an Accord or Escape but those cars look just like the regular versions. They didn't just want to minimize their emissions. It isn't about the mileage.
There is nothing wrong with doing those things (recycling etc.) but I have a problem with people who specifically do those things as fashion or political statements rather than simply doing them.

g_rob said...

I dunno. I think the two are inseparable. I recycle and conserve water religiously. And I like it when people ask me about it when visisting my house. It might get them thinking about their own practices. I don't go around knocking on peoples doors or arguing with them at parties, trying to prove how much better I am morally than them. But I do want my friends and relatives to know that I recylce all of my laundry water and that I take great pains to do so. It's important to me. For most people (outside of Hollywood) who drive hybrid vehicles, it is a political statement. My aunt and uncle live completely off the grid and grow all of their own food and drive a Prius. They did chose it over other versions that don't look any different because of that reason. People will recognize that others are committed to conserving fuel - so much so that they bought a vehicle that excels in that department. There is a difference between Paris Hilton buying a Prius and my aunt and uncle.

Stephen said...

Only 25% of new Prius buyers bought because they cared about emissions. Let's assume that your aunt and uncle fall into that category.

g_rob said...

That poll is weird. I really think that the majority of people who bought a Prius because it "makes a statement about me" know that statement is "I bought this because it gets good gas mileage, has lower emissions and I want you to know that."

In other words, I think the two are intertwined and that all those people who bought it for the statement also bought it because the statement is about conervation. They didn't buy it simply because it has lower emissions or better gas mileage, but because it has that and it makes a statement.

Stephen said...

Then why did the number change?

Jeff said...

how is the prius any different from any other car--or better stated, how are prius consumers any different from any other consumer? I suppose, I would like it if folks bought a prius without any sense of self-satisfaction--but that isn't human nature. So, Prius and Cadillac owners are more similiar, in their reasons for buying a product (the product says something about the owner in their own minds), than one might have assumed. It is annoying but hardly surprising.

g_rob said...

For a couple reasons: there a certainly more people buying them because it is trendy and Al Gore and Bono told them to. But at the same time, that reason is coupled with a concern for conservation. I don't think the two are separable. Yes, some of these same people would buy a car made of wood if it were trendy in Hollywood. But most are doing it because the Prius is trendy and it is environmentally more friendly than other cars.

Also, as the article states: "Unlike the original Prius buyers, who wanted to be first with its innovative technology, the latest owners are far more conscious of foreign oil dependence and global warming, said Doug Coleman, Toyota’s product manager for Prius." The first people to line up for the Prius were techies who liked the innovation. Now there are more who are doing it for environmental reasons.

Personally, I would never buy a Prius, and I said this the moment they started making it, because of the way it looks. I thought that they needed to make a regular-looking car that didn't look like a friggin' space car, to make it more appealing. I'm glad Honda and Ford and others have done that and I think it will catch on more and more. As soon as they come out with a 4x4 pickup with good torque I will buy one.

Whatever reason people buy the Prius, there is a big difference between someone buying an Escalade to show how rich and hip they are and someone buying a Prius to show how hip and environmentally concerned they are.

Robert C. said...

It's an interesting poll, but I think you're making too much of it, Steve. People might have multiple reasons for their purchase. The people who care about sending a message with their Prius also care about the gas mileage.

You might be interested in this Emily Bazelon article on Slate, which is in part a response to Prius snobbery.

Her response: "If I'm being honest, I'd answer "all of the above" in response to that survey. It also made me worry about how my kids perceive our family Prius ownership. Do they think we're doing our small bit to save the Earth, or are they imbibing a look-at-me smugness?"

Are there any hybrids that have better gas mileage than the Prius? Any new cars at all that have better gas mileage? I don't think that there are -- but I'm not totally sure. The Honda hybrids don't get great gas mileage; neither does the Camry. I guess a VW diesel could get comparable mileage.

g_rob said...

Somebody told me that the Prius gets better mileage in Japan. Not because it's in Japan but because it's not in America. Not sure if that's true.