Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The Prius people strike me a lot like methadone junkies, the question they ask isn't how to kick the habit, but how to keep it rolling.

More like how to keep some of their income.  The Prius is not a luxury car in any sense except the mileage and the technology employed. The payback over buying a 4 cylinder Camry is dropping by the month.  Hard to fault people for that.  People faced with a car buying decision don't have the choice of a better designed urban environment.  Come the day.  

And the real tragedy is that keeping people in their cars perpetuates one of the key means by which individuals indicate social status in our unequal society.

I would argue that just commuting in a car is in fact a rather weak indicator of social status.  In LA you see a lot of 15-20 year old Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans on the Freeways.  How is that a status symbol? The indicators of social status are  Mercedes, Lexus, Rolls, etc. It does distinguish you from panhandlers at freeway off ramps and from immigrants riding bicycles.  It is getting hard to determine status from bus riding.

In cities without widespread urban transit systems cars per se are more an indicator of employment than of status.  High mileage motorcycles and scooters are becoming more popular, especially in warmer, drier climates.  With the highly likely continued upward trajectory of gas prices, many families may find themselves purchasing a motorcycle and becoming a one car, one motorcycle family.  Keeping a second old car for bad weather may turn out to be an excellent decision in families with two wage earners.  Might just keep both working.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 12:22:27 AM EST
The prius is a status symbol for those unwilling to use other forms of transit or suffer the embarrassment of driving an old Geo Metro that gets better mileage than the prius. It's a perfect demonstration of the trends shown in the two charts featuring MPG on the x axis.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 02:06:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's not go completely overboard on the anti-technology argument. The Prius meets far greater pollution and safety standards, and is a much bigger car. From the Wikipedia, the MPG ratings of the 1989 Geo Metro and the 2008 Prius are:

"Geo Metro XFi engin combined a shorter duration cam, leaner fuel map, two ring pistons, and a higher final drive gear model to achieve 43 city, 51 highway per the revised 2007 EPA mileage standards."

"2008 Prius 48 mpg-U.S. (4.9 L/100 km / 57.7 mpg-imp) for city driving, 45 mpg-U.S. (5.23 L/100 km / 54 mpg-imp) for highway driving"

As I see it, there are three options:

1.) Reduced standard of living to support growing global popluation.
2.) Technology supporting growing population and standard of living.
3.) Reduced global population to support growing standard of living, either voluntarily or by the traditional methods of famine, disease, and war.

We are pursuing a mix of the first and second options, and Mother Nature is working out the details of how to implement the third. For some reason, the voluntary significant reduction of the global population is not approved for discussion.

by asdf on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 09:47:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Looks like you have imperial gallons there.

Which makes British vehicles look like miracles until you realize that an imperial gallon is a full fifth more than a US gallon.

So that 60 mpg using imperial gallons is only 48 mpg using US gallons.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 01:22:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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