Getting an EV is the New Keeping Up with the Joneses

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There are plenty of reasons people buy hybrid or electric vehicles. Saving money on gas is usually on the list. Saving the environment is up there, too. New research shows one-upping the neighbors is also incentive for people to go green.

  • Man-made climate change is a growing concern for everyone.
  • Making eco-friendly choices is now a point of pride.
  • Environmental consciousness makes driving a hybrid or electric vehicle a status symbol.

A mother and child are outside sorting through the recycling bins with the garage in the background

Recycling, once seen as a chore, is now something people enjoy. (Photo: Getty Images)

Under consideration

A study conducted by Hyundai found seven out of 10 adults in the U.K. think man-made climate change and ocean pollution are the biggest threat humans face. That concern has those who want to keep up with the Joneses switching from showing off their wealth to showing off their environmental consciousness.

The survey showed 22 percent of people try to outdo each other’s efforts at environmental responsibility. One in five even had a falling out with a neighbor they believed was hurting the environment. Recycling, once a frustration, is something 80 percent of UK adults now enjoy. Four in 10 are so proud when they purchase an eco-friendly product, they’ll even tell a neighbor.

That eco-consciousness extends to cars with 60 percent saying they’d consider an electric or hybrid to reduce their carbon footprint. The key here is they’d consider the idea. Concerns about the cost of switching, range limitations, and charging times ultimately keep people from making the switch.

Status symbols

Toyota Prius owners have long appreciated the status that comes from driving a hybrid or EV. They like people knowing they’re driving green. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but one that’s been around for at least a decade. Back in 2007, The New York Times spoke with Prius owners who were pleased with the status that came along with owning one.

The government offers all manner of incentives to get people to switch to electric vehicles. Carpool lane access and cash are good, but maybe a little healthy competition to one-up the neighbor needs to be a part of the mix.


The switch to electric vehicles is happening, but it’s happening slowly. Finding a way to tap into our need to outdo the neighbors and gamify the process could encourage people to finally make that switch.

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