Hungry for Hybrids

Consumers will ultimately benefit from high gas prices

It may not be the first thing you think of when you're filling your SUV's 20-gallon tank with $100 worth of gas every week, but the skyrocketing price of oil might actually be good for us—eventually.

This week, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll revealed that because of increasing gas prices, 54 percent of Americans would seriously consider purchasing a hybrid vehicle for their next car were it not for one major barrier: price. Currently, hybrid versions of existing models (Honda's Civic and Accord, Ford's Escape SUV) are priced much higher—anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 more—while lower-cost hybrids like Toyota's Prius still come with significant performance tradeoffs in comparison with similarly-priced conventional cars. The big automakers have taken their sweet time pushing hybrid technology into the mainstream, but as the survey shows, there is real demand. Hopefully this demand won't have to wait much longer for an adequately economical supply. —John Mahoney