Yep, Hybrids Are Still for Hippies

We’ve all seen the car commercials for the latest hybrid vehicles. These ads portray a wide range of people driving these cars – “cool” young adults, corporate professional types, everyday couples with families. Obviously, the car companies who make hybrids are trying to broaden the appeal of these products to increase their sales.


But is it working? Or do the people who actually buy hybrids still fit a narrow stereotype?

Recent research by JD Power and Scarborough has tried to flesh out the characteristics of people who have hybrid vehicles in their garages. So after all of the marketing by car companies and the efforts by eco-friendly groups to nudge these vehicles into the mainstream, what did the surveys discover?

People who purchase hybrids are older, live on the West Coast, and lean toward the liberal side of the political spectrum. In a word: hippies.


Proud new Prius owners.

That may be a bit of an overstatement, but the studies found that hybrid buyers tend to share quite a few similarities in their demographic makeup and stated preferences. For instance:

While the mean age of a new car buyer is 40 years old, that average rises to 54 among hybrid owners. Doing the math, that puts them squarely in the 1970s as teenagers and young adults.

A whopping 42% of hybrid vehicle owners earn more than $100,000 a year. That’s not too surprising, given that most hybrids generally cost more than the comparable gas-powered vehicle models.


After all, some people have more money than sense.

But here’s where the research becomes more enlightening. The Scarborough study also showed that hybrid owners, when compared to the general population:

  • Are twice as likely to do yoga (and for them, “downward facing dog” is not a pet!)
  • Eat more organic food (and they put whatever they don’t eat into their compost pile)
  • Consume more yogurt (being careful not to let it drip onto their Birkenstocks)
  • Drink more decaffeinated coffee (in a hipster café while reading the New York Times, no doubt)
  • Prefer to browse news or information-related websites (maybe MSNBC, NPR, or anything with Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow)
  • Patronize online auction sites like eBay (probably looking to snag an Obama bobblehead doll or the latest Joni Mitchell CD)
  • Are more likely to be “liberal creative types” who reside on the West Coast (Hey! Let’s all carpool to the modern art gallery downtown! Then we’ll stop by the tofu bar on the way to the poetry slam!)


All of this reminds brings to mind a story: did you hear about the Chevy Volt owner who was driving along the PCH, swerved to avoid hitting a butterfly, ran off the road and hit a tree – then got out and hugged it?

Okay, that didn’t really happen. (But it could have).


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