The stigma of owning a hybrid car has decreased in recent years due to astonishingly high gas prices and increased environmental awareness.
A hybrid vehicle combines two or more sources of power that provide propulsion power, making these automobiles more environmentally friendly, according to hybridcars.com.
These new vehicles were not always popular, though. In the March 29, 2006 episode of “South Park,” entitled “Smug Alert,” one character’s father purchases a “Toyonda Pious,” a hybrid car that does not emit smog, but instead has a toxic gas called “smug.”
The episode depicted gas friendly hybrid car owners as being extremely self-satisfied while patting each other on the backs for making a “green” decision.
Now, though, Americans across the country have traded in their SUVs for cost-effective, environmentally-friendly alternatives, like the real “Toyonda Pious.”
“The Toyota Prius is our most popular hybrid,” said Jason Kridner, sales professional at Little Apple Toyota-Honda.
“We have a waiting list of about 60 to 90 days until we even receive the next shipment.”
Many customers said hybrids no longer come with the supposed feature of smugness, but rather a sense of responsibility, Kridner said.
Joe Philipp, a Manhattan resident who once owned a Jeep Grand Cherokee, said he made the switch to a Prius after becoming more environmentally conscious.
“I love my Prius,” Philipp said. “I bought it because my son got his degree in environmental sciences, and I think his ‘greenness’ influenced my decision. Also, my Jeep got 14 miles per gallon, and the Prius gets 42.”
Philipp has owned his Prius for four years and has yet to have anything replaced or repaired, but he said the vehicle does not handle well in snow or on mountains.
By the time the car has driven up a mountain road, the battery will have lost much of its charge, but it will recharge itself on the way down, Philipp said.
The Prius also does not lose speed when coasting, which can lead to unnecessarily sudden stops at the hands of an inexperienced hybrid driver.
Though hybrids might be more environmentally friendly, many consumers seem to be intimidated by the price tag.
Kridner said the popular Toyota Camry costs about $22,000.
Most base model hybrids cost about $26,000.
However, they come with an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty, Kridner said.
Mir Anwar, owner of Renewable Resources, a company that installs alternative energy resources like windmills and solar panels, said that rising fuel prices have been a blessing in disguise.
“It has opened the public’s eyes to alternative fuel sources and conservation,” Anwar said. “Instead of it being all about mega-SUVs like Hummers, it’s about miles per gallon. People are catching on and don’t want to be wasteful.”
Anwar knows some people might have an issue with losing the ability to take apart and rebuild their cars by hand, which might soon become “the old-fashioned way,” but he said the change is an important one.
“I’m sure people who are accustomed to pulling out a wrench and fixing their clunker under the shade of a tree are against this change, but it’s a change that needs to be embraced,” he said.