A poll conducted jointly by the Wall Street Journal and the Harris polling firm reports that 80% of adults in the United States have changed their life styles to accommodate rising gasoline prices. According to the poll, women are more likely to have made changes than men, but the difference between the two genders is not enormous. Older adults are more likely to drive less than younger ones. 
 
Half of those intending to buy or lease a new car or truck would consider a hybrid. Both the lowest and highest income groups favor hybrids more than the middle income group, and people in the age bracket from 18 to 34 are more likely to consider a gasoline powered vehicle than a hybrid.
 
Overwhelming numbers of both men and women purportedly believe it is a good idea for government to encourage fuel efficiency in vehicles.
 
The accuracy of such polls is often questionable, because the manner of phrasing the question can have a dramatic influence on the response, as can the method of creating the sample used as the basis for the poll.
 
But, if the responses are accurate, they reflect an extraordinary ignorance by Americans about energy, the auto industry and the role of government in both.
 
Although over 90% of respondents said the government should encourage the use of alternative fuels, the poll did not ask respondents why fuel prices have risen. One of the contributors to higher fuel prices has been the alternative fuel ethanol mandates imposed by the federal government, mandates which would be drastically increased if the energy bill passed by the United States Senate were to become law. That mandate has not only increased the price of gasoline, but of food, as well, as it has made one of the chief food stocks fro both people and animals a commodity over which farmers and food companies must compete with oil companies. 
 
The study also suggests that hybrid vehicles are viewed as a panacea, rather than as a potentially expensive way of minimally reducing fuel consumption at the expense of creating greater energy costs in the manufacture and scrapping of the vehicle. Whether hybrid vehicles are, overall, bigger consumers of energy that conventional vehicles remains the subject of vigorous debate.
 
Still, the survey does show why so many auto and truck manufacturers – Porsche’s the latest, promising a hybrid Cayenne by 2010 – want to attach the label hybrid to their vehicles: people seem to think they want it, even though they don’t know much of anything about it.
 
A golden opportunity for a car salesman, if ever there were one.

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