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Count the Priuses

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My son Jackson just turned 10. For about a year now, we've been playing a game, mostly of his design, while riding in the car. We count Priuses. That's, of course, the Toyota hybrid that's become enormously popular in our Los Angeles neighborhood. According to Wired Magazine, hybrid sales were up 38% last year, and Toyota can't make enough cars to meet demand. All the same, hybrids still only account for 2.3% of the market. Counting them on the roads is still child's-play.

One day, on the three mile drive home from school, we counted nineteen Priuses. Now, that's a Babe Ruthian sort of record that may stand for the ages. But on any given day, we'll easily count eight, or ten or even twelve.

Jackson's Prius-envy goes beyond just counting. Not long ago, my trusty old Volvo blew up. Literally. As I was pulling up the hill that leads to my driveway, it exploded into smoke and flame. It was clear I needed a new vehicle.

"Get a Prius, Dad. It would be SO cool if you would pick me up at school in a Prius."

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A Prius is SO cool. Not a BMW convertible, not a Bentley GS, not even a Mini. According to my 10 year-old the bee-hind-ugly Toyota hybrid is the epitome of hip.

I bought a used, conventional vehicle instead. Maybe it was the wrong choice. But we still count Priuses. And lately Jackson's added a twist. Now, along with the hybrids, we count those big, expensive, carbon-burping Porsche Cayenne's. You know, the S-U-V for people with more money than morals. It gets twelve miles to the gallon going downhill. Some Prius drivers get fifty.

And there's good news for the planet, at least in our corner of it. The latest count, Prius 11, Cayenne 4.

Have you noticed an upsurge in Priuses on the road? Counted more than nineteen in a day? Let us know and keep and eye out for updates on Jackson's count over the summer.

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