SUV’s Status Symbols? What About Hybrids?


If you read much of the publics opinion, or should I say the opinionated public, when it comes to SUV’s and large Trucks you’ll find that there is no shortage of just that, opinions, both in favor and against. On the dissenting side of the argument there is one angle that I find repulsive, it’s the idea that people drive SUV’s solely because they are status symbols.

These people generally think of a person driving an SUV as a person that has a lot of money. Why is this assumption made? First off, SUV’s are not the most fuel efficient vehicles out there, so one assumes that if a person is driving an SUV they can afford to pay the price at the pump. Second, some people mod their SUV’s with lifts and such that make them stand out more than the usual vehicle. This too, often takes a toll on fuel. Thus, in the eyes of some, the SUV becomes a status symbol. Yet, I ponder if that is not the case on both sides, both the hybrid driver and the regular fuel driver.

Please allow me explain my premise a little better. Generally speaking, within society there are different types of people. Different types of people have different objectives in life. A good way to examine a generality is to compare two extremes. In this case, the two extremes would be, people that seek the appearance of having money and those that do not, they actually seek the appearance of having very little money.

In 96s Swingers the term money is often used to describe these guys.

In 96's "Swingers" the term "money" is often used to describe these guys.

But why would anyone want to appear poor? Good question. First we have to remember that the given examples are “extremes” and are not to be taken too seriously. But I would suggest that there are people that do not mind appearing poor. That might spur from a humble attitude or an attitude that seeks to fight “commercialism”. I’m somewhere in the middle and just want to appear normal and I would not be keen on siding with any of the two extreme examples I provided. But I am not here to defend or decry commercialism or its antithesis.

For those that desire to appear wealthy, the car they drive, the clothes they wear, and their personal hygiene are all factors. All of those things could be used to make ones own self into a status symbol, because after all, when we use things in that way we’re not trying to give the car a pride boost, we are trying to give it to ourselves. On the opposite end if the spectrum, a person that does not love the “money look” might use the same factors as a status symbol within his or her own societal circle or clique. But in this case, ones status is not determined by how good ones car, clothes and hygiene are, but rather the complete opposite. In order to understand how this works we have to look at the priorities of the individual and what is really of worth to that person and that persons societal clique.

While I do not believe in class warfare or anything of the like, I cannot deny that people belong to chosen societal cliques. The thing that separates me from my communist counterparts is the fact that I believe that people have the ability to choose where they want to be in life, both monetarily and socially. They, on the other hand, believe that people are born into a certain class and will never escape that class, therefore government has to coddle or appease those that are not part of the upper class in society. The desired result of that would be taking out the upper class and having an equal society with no class. I, however, will not deny reality and I’ll say that people are born into poor and rich families, I just cannot believe that those people, especially in America, don’t have a choice as to who or what they want to be in society.

So, if we examine an individuals priorities in life we can see what exactly is of worth to them. In the money appearance vs. the poor appearance example above we can see that it is not so much the factors that are in play but how those factors are used. So for the person that likes the appearance money, having a nice new car matters to them because it makes them look wealthier, therefore giving them a higher status within the wealthy parts of society. The desire of the one who seeks a poor appearance is exactly the opposite of the person trying to look wealthy, possibly even as an attempt to counter that person or that societal clique. For example, its possible that if they drove a new SUV they could be castigated and shunned from the environmental clique that they chose to be a part of, because they went to the more commercial and less “green” friendly side. So in contrast a wealthy appearance, its not how much money it appears they have, but rather how much money it appears they don’t have. So in all actuality everything that I am explaining has nothing to do with what really exists monetarily, but rather what appears to exist.

The Fortwo vehicle.

The Fortwo vehicle.

So if we take the same formula and apply it to the case of the hybrid driver and the SUV driver both vehicles can be used as status symbols. Because the hybrid driver is of higher stature and has a better status within the environmental community than the regular gas driver. And it works out the same way within the regular vehicle world, except they answer to a different clique. A good example of this would be a scene in The Day After Tomorrow when the main character is driving down the highway in his bright green hybrid surrounded by cars that look different than his. Do you honestly think that hybrid manufacturers are not selling that difference? I guarantee you that in the early day’s of hybrid cars, which might be wearing off now with the entrance of hybrid SUV’s and large trucks, the shape, color, and overall style of the hybrid was different, mostly to appease the environmentally sound individuals’ desire to stand out from crowd. Another example would be the Smart Fortwo vehicle, which looks and probably drives different than any car on the road, but within the “green” clique it is probably a hit and a sign of the drivers care for the environment.

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One Response to “SUV’s Status Symbols? What About Hybrids?”

  1. […] introduction of hybrid SUV’s offered even more status to those ready to compromise but not sever their love of […]

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