Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Being seen to be green

Toyota's eco-friendly Prius hybrid-powered car is a must-have for environmentally-conscious celebrities this year. But are their purchases more about image than politics?

Fans of the Prius include Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz, while the brains behind Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have used their Prius purchases to deflect any suggestion that they're becoming fat cats. Yet, an article in the Washington Post notes that sales of Honda's Civic hybrid have been much weaker than for the Prius, even though it's technology is similar and it is almost as fuel-efficient. So what's the difference? 'The Prius is a fashion statement,' said Art Spinella, a consultant with CNW Marketing Research who surveys car-buying trends. 'It looks different. Other people know the driver is driving a hybrid vehicle. It clearly makes a bigger statement about the person than does the Civic, which basically looks like a Civic.' Spinella added that hybrid buyers in focus groups gravitate to the Prius 'because of its unique design and will candidly admit they expect to receive some acclaim from friends, relatives, co-workers for their concern about the environment and/or fuel efficiency.' Green is the new black, as it were. Hopefully, they'll all be driving gas-guzzlers before too long.

Toyota's Prius Proving to Be the Hotter Ride in Hybrids, Washington Post, 23 August 2004

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