The Prius is Just Not for Me

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While I agree whole heartedly with the movement toward the “green” automobile automakers are aiming for recently, styling cues on these eco friendly cars do not appeal to the overwhelming majority. Automobiles like the Toyota Prius, which has been one of the pioneers of this movement, tend to be the subject of jokes amongst my peers rather than being cars that one would consider owning in the future. These so called “lunch box” cars, as so accurately quoted by Jeff Dunham’s puppet Peanut, deserve a sporty style to back up the sophisticated technology.

Could eye-catching variations be just around the corner? Well the truth is they are already here. For instance automakers such as Toyota and General Motors offer many of their regular full combustion engine automobiles in hybrid models such as the Lexus RX400h and the GMC Yukon Hybrid. The only problem with models like these is that while they are steps in the right direction, they still only get mediocre fuel efficiency that comes no where close to that of the likes of Toyotas Prius and its newest American competitor, the Chevrolet Volt (which in my opinion is only slightly more appealing). This mediocre fuel efficiency also comes with a hefty price tag. The Yukon Hybrid for example has a price tag of slightly over $50,000 while only averaging 21 to 22 miles per gallon, which is only 4 mpg better than the original. The extra money up front hardly seems worth the investment in fuel efficiency and when the majority of hybrid hunters are frugal spenders looking to save a few pennies at the pump, it hardly seems likely for cars such as these to be overly successful.
Yet there is more in terms of alternately fueled automobiles. Not only do we have these hybrid variations of common cars but “green” exotic cars are suddenly beginning to find there way to production. The most popular of these being the fully electric Tesla Roadster. This two seat convertible is based on the Lotus Elise platform and has the performance to back its exotic look with 288 horsepower electric motor and the capability of going 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. This combination comes with the price tag that one would expect at $109,000 which is well out of my price range, however if you have money to burn and this isn’t enough performance for your , perhaps you should check out the new 78 mpg Porsche 918 Spyder. For this automobile the word “supercar” is an understatement. With a top speed of 199 mph, more than 700 combined output of horsepower (between the 3.4 liter V-8 with the company of three electric motors), and looks-to-kill this car is any man’s dream. This price tag comes in at an estimated $630,000. Cars like these, while unpractical, continue to add variety to the market and lead us in the right direction.

The list of alternative fueled cars continues but there has yet to be the perfect combination of style and practicality. It seems the problem is always a blend of extreme cost, second-rate efficiency, or “lunch box” styling. I challenge automakers to produce an alternately fueled vehicle aimed towards America’s teenagers. After all, what better way to impact the future of our planet than by targeting the generation of the future?

(Statistics credited to Edmunds.com and DuPont Registry’s Exotic Car Buyers Guide 2011)





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