Prius drivers are some of the most hated on the road, and their Prii are not far behind. There have always been cars that people dislike and, by association, their drivers. Remember Hummer? In the case of the Toyota Prius, the process is reversed.
The vitriol directed toward Prius drivers follows two routes:
1. Driving habits – Prius drivers seem particularly singled out for their poor driving. In addition to being perceived as unusually inconsiderate drivers, the Prius-hating crowd seems most enraged by the general slowness with which Prius drivers go about their business. After all, it is unfair for one group to maximize its fuel efficiency at the expense of another trying to minimize it.
2. Liberal, hippy, do-gooding, entitled jerks – The majority of the venom is reserved for the perceived personal characteristics of Prius drivers. To some, driving a Prius is like going to McDonald’s and ordering a salad. Nobody likes to be reminded of the fact that they should be ashamed of themselves. Similarly, driving a car that is synonymous with saving the planet really ticks people off.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game
The above routes to Prius-driver hatred reflect a basic stereotype of Prius drivers. Stereotypes are generalizations about a group of people in which certain traits are assigned to virtually all members of the group, regardless of actual variation among the members. Thus, the Prius-driver stereotype is just as notable for what it does not include. Namely, the possibility that some people might just want to save money on gas.
Judging from the number of Prii sold, it is unlikely that Prius owners are continuing to huddle together in order to decide how they can best admonish other drivers. Prius prices are becoming more competitive and the number of Prius choices are set to markedly increase. All of these factors suggest that regular people are driving Prii, including those who never thought that they would.
The times they are a-changin’
If non-tree huggers are driving Prii, then it may be time for Prius-haters to direct their animus toward another group of drivers. Any suggestions?