12.5% Of The US Car Buying Market Accounts for 29% of Hybrid And 41% Of Electric Vehicle Sold In 2012.

2013 Chevy VoltIf fuel efficient car ownership were a competition, the western United States just annihilated the rest of the country. Tom Libby of Polk has crunched the numbers for the first 10 months of 2012 and despite only representing 12.5% of the market, the western United States accounted for 29% of new hybrid vehicle sales and 41% of new electric vehicle sales.

According to Mr. Libby’s data, 7% of all new vehicle sales for the top 15 DMAs (Designated Marketing Areas) were hybrids. And in the San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose DMA, nearly 10% of the new cars sold were hybrid. Of the top 15 DMAs for hybrid and electric car sales – 9 were located in California, 4 in Oregon and 1 each for Washington and Arizona.

In the bottom 15 DMAs, which were predominantly located in Louisiana and Texas, hybrid sales represented 1.5% of new car purchases and electric vehicles only .01%. The bottom 15 DMAs represent 6.6% of the new car buying market.

What can you take away from this data? If you’re buying a hybrid or electric vehicle and you live on the west coast, you should probably haggle more. [Polk via GCR]

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The Toyota Prius Definitely Needs The Optical Camouflage System Developed At Keio University.

Rear view of a Toyota Prius.Prius owners know what I’m talking about. When backing up in the Toyota Prius, turning around and looking above the rear seat through the angled rear windows gives you a viewing area that can only be compared to a supermax prison window; it’s like looking through a crack. The rear camera on the Prius is great and my kids love making faces in it but getting a good look at what you’re reversing into you is not its forté.

The optical camouflage system developed at Keio University is the solution and makes the backseat appear transparent while giving the driver a full-view of what’s behind their vehicle. I don’t care if it works out that the kids get a low-power video player – the optical camouflage system is a must have for the Prius. [DigInfo via Core77]

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Toyota Prius Drivers Around The World, Unite And Go Camping (With Habitents)

Habitents for Toyota Prius and Honda InsightHabitents camping canopy for the Toyota Prius is a cool idea and the best part is that it’s reasonably priced at $89.99. Habitents also folds down to fit in your glove compartment. The only downside: how bad the dutch oven effect could be with two people trying to sleep in a Prius after a couple days of camping food. [Habitents]

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Thank You Toyota Prius: My Kids Now Think I’m A Hypermiling, Eco-Hipster.

Hybrid Driving Lessons Toyota PriusBefore I go any further, I want to point out that I’ve been called much worse than a hypermiling, eco-hipster. Even when it comes from my kids, the name doesn’t bother me. That’s because I know the problem is with the Prius. The car pushes me each time I drive it to improve my driving technique by informing me of my MPGs at the end of each trip. Stepping on the gas too firmly and I activate the gas engine; ease into motion and I can stay electric.

Another thing I know is that the name calling will not be limited to inside our car – it’s sure to come from outside too. The Prius is kind of a lightning rod vehicle that is viewed with the same, but bizarro, contempt as the Hummer. The South Park episode, Smug Alert, is a perfect example and pokes fun at self-righteous Prius/hybrid drivers. And as much as I tell people “I’m not one of them,” it’s still guilt by ownership.

So kids, keep working on new material. I’ve got thick skin. I promise not to embarrass you by holding up traffic but I am still more apt to drive like a retiree than a teen. By the way: calling me a “hipster” anything only encourages me.

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Decided What Car To Get By First Asking Ourselves, WWABD (What Would Andy Bernard Drive)? Got A Prius.

Andy Bernard - The OfficeAs of 3pm on Sunday April 15th, we became proud Toyota Prius owners. It sure is a nice ride and the user interface tells you more than everything you’d want to know about how your car is performing. The UI can be a bit overwhelming but it does help the driver adjust their technique to maximize fuel economy in real time. My kids sitting in the back calling us out every time we switched to using the gas engine wasn’t ordered but could be an option on future models.

Being a new Prius owner does come with responsibility.Pious - Toyota Prius vanity license One big one is that we will not put any smug, pro-Prius bumper stickers on our car. Our motivation to get the Toyota Prius wasn’t to be better than anyone; it was simply a decision borne out of cheapness. Compared to our 2002 Honda Odyssey, the Prius gets nearly 3 times the gas mileage and that’s basically all it took. And ours isn’t a plugin model so we won’t be attending any National Plug In Day events but then again, we wouldn’t go even if it was.

So thank you Andy Bernard, the Nard-Dog, for inspiring us to act. We un-piously love our Prius so much that we can’t wait to not drive it!

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Why Did GM Build The Chevy Volt? Because They Were “Gagging” On The Deification Of Toyota For Building The Prius

Robert Lutz, Former Chairman of GM and the Chevy VoltI love it when executives take off the gloves and speak their mind – in this case, it’s Robert Lutz, the former Vice Chairman of General Motors. Mr. Lutz spearheaded GM’s development of the Chevy Volt and for the article in the SF Chronicle, The Chevy Volt’s unlikely father, he didn’t mince words when it came to describing what finally motivated GM to pursue their hybrid Volt: “Basically, it was born out of frustration at the deification of Toyota, because of the Prius.”

According to Mr. Lutz, the Prius has elevated its status to the point that consumers might mistakenly assume Toyota was only in it for benevolent purposes and cared less for profits than their positive impact on the environment. “I was gagging on this stuff, because it was all so patently untrue”, said Mr. Lutz.

It’s great to hear that competition can be a driving factor even though it seems to run counter to our ideas about sustainability and conservation. Maybe a competition to consume less is next. [SF Chronicle]

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