Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Is energy conservation about morals? Or money?
In my past life working as a Consultant/Excel Jockey to Toyota (TM), I actually had the feeling that it was the former. Hybrid-car lovers seemed to be more focused on helping the environment and promoting a positive image of themselves (some would call it smugness) than on saving money. It did take a quite a bit of driving to make up the cost differential between a hybrid and non-hybrid, so hybrids didn't make a ton of sense from a pure cost-of-use basis.
So I did think that hybrid sales would hold up decently during the current auto market slowdown. Boy was I wrong, at least according to the LA Times. Just look at how hard it's become to sell a hybrid:
This news throws a massive wrench into President Obama's idea that General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) can recover by focusing on fuel-efficient vehicles.
With the economy in the toilet, consumers are just buying what's affordable - small, used cars. They just don't have the cash to put the environment first. You can buy a tough-as-nails used Honda Accord for $5,000. That's a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new Prius.
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