Let's set a few things straight. Yes - we SHOULD be listening to environmentalists. If not for environmentalists and the efforts of the EPA and other agencies, you, me, and everyone else would be breathing raw, untreated leaded gas fumes. Why? Because early on the EPA passed emission requirements that meant all cars had to have catalytic converters. They also phased out leaded gas. Have you ever looked at pictures of LA circa 1960? The city's air was literally brown. In fact, if you don't think there is any need for environmental regulations, then perhaps read what's been happening in China, where there have been multiple days where it's actually too polluted to go outside. So please tell us all how great it would be if that was how it was in the US.
Secondly, the battery debate and the Prius is another one where those who tend to not like the Prius, not because it's a car, but because they think it's a political object, also tend to know little about its technology. I will say that I own one of the first generation Priuses. It's now going on 12 years old. Nothing has gone wrong with the car. The battery is holding up fine, and of those I know who own these, none of their batteries have failed either. I'd say the rate of battery failure has been far less than the rate of transmission failures in any number of "normal" cars. And as mentioned, these batteries are recycled.
So I hope we can all put this to rest.
Yes, the middle class permanently "cuts back" just to make room for the rich and politicians to live more exorbitantly than ever before. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Americans lived the best in the nation's history; now that standard of living is falling as our wealthy and political elite use that as an excuse to slowly strangle us into poverty, where we can be exploited even further.
The environmentalist movement had nothing to do with leaded gas. Besides, no offense buddy, saving LA isn't high on most people's priority lists, and is definitely not worth their $30,000.
I understand the guy with the 1990 Town Car probably didn't understand how the Prius works exactly, but most people don't anyway. But using straw man arguments to try and make a point is much worse than simply misunderstanding technology.
California is the 7th largest economy in the world if it was its own country, and LA is a major factor in the state's success, so sorry, but people 'do' in fact care a little more about LA versus middle-of-nowhere Ohio or wherever, because without the CA economy, the US's economy would be a fraction of the size it is now. But regardless, this isn't about LA. It's about the ENTIRE country, and the amount of crap we breathe on a daily basis.
And yes - the environmental movement more or less kicked off at what was basically the height of the worst of pollution in the US. In fact, if you'd like to know a little of the history and what was considered the pivotal event that started the movement, look up the 1969 Cuyahoga river fire: It was when that river caught on fire in Ohio, basically because the river was so heavily polluted that it was actually flammable.
Shortly afterwards during the Nixon administration, the EPA was formed (which BTW had strong bipartisan support) and not too long thereafter, leaded gasoline began its phaseout along with the introduction of catalytic converters. Back then these measures were seen more as common sense rather than the heavily divisive political football it's now become.
I'd also recommend that if you happen to see or read various anti-environmental pieces, that it's worthwhile to look to exactly whom is sponsoring those statements. More often than not, it's usually companies and industries who would benefit if pollution standards were more lax. That's it. It's zilch to do with liberals and conservatives, and everything to do with dollars.
This is why we don't live there.
At least you have the Tesla out there that is a great car direction. The Prius has to be the ugliest vehicle I have ever seen. With the middle class being squeezed downward, it seems like it's what people have to accept. Gas is nearly 4 bucks a gallon. To remain middle class anymore, you have to cut corners. I see it as a very sad situation. No matter what you drive, you really are not green. You require steel mills and foundries to make frames and sheet metal. You refine oil and gasoline. California has refineries as well. Then you have to manufacture and dispose of batteries. In a few years you repeat a purchase or have 2 family vehicles anyway. You have to work so you commute on the LA freeways twice a day. You heat and cool a home. Maybe walk; it's free. And eat cold vegetables from the back yard.
In the interim, I will drive a well tuned V8 with cats and unleaded fuel. I am more concerned with being downsized at the moment vs stuck in traffic in LA.
I live in the Bay Area (San Francisco Bay Area), which has some of the cleanest air in the country (blows in from the ocean). We are quite pleased living here. Oh - and BTW, it's 66 degrees today... in January, and when it's July, it never gets over 75 degrees. So have fun wherever you live. Where we live is wonderful.
As far as "Not being green" because we use steel, batteries, and whatnot, well steel is about the most recycled substance on earth. About 90% of what you buy that happens to be made of steel is made out of melted scrap. Batteries - both lead batteries and the ones used in hybrids - are also recycled. You also don't necessarily have to buy cars every few years either: One of my cars is 17, the other 12, and they still run just fine.
A V-8 engine in any American passenger car is total overkill. Even most trucks now are plenty powerful with a V-6. There is nowhere that you can legally use the full potential of even a 4-cylinder car, let alone a V-8. I love Mustangs, but even replaced my last V-8 with the plenty-powerful V-6. Even my 4-cylinder mid-sized sedan will accelerate to 60 in just under 8 seconds, and easily runs to its computer limited top speed of 120 mph without breathing hard. When a 4-cylinder car can go from 0 to a traffic violation in under 9 seconds, a V-8 offers nothing useful in daily driving.
There also seems to be the impression that driving a smaller car or hybrid is somehow an indication of lower social status. I don't agree at all. I see many people who earn more than I do, such as doctors, lawyers and upper-level business executives driving cars such as the Prius. One of my millionaire clients drove a Hyundai Santa Fe and raved about it. For most people, it is simply a choice and not something forced upon them by economic conditions. Driving an economical car is like making a wise business decision. It also helps our environment, and postpones the day when our world runs out of irreplaceable fossil fuels.
I swore off any more gas-guzzling V-8's, not because I had to, but because they are simply not practical. Nowhere in the U.S. can you use even half their potential, and having to fill the fuel tank half as often is a wonderful additional benefit. With modern hybrids and 4-cylinder cars being as fast as older V-8's, there is little lure for me to go back to them.