Chicks Dig My Tiny Carbon Footprint

What do women find sexy? Hybrids. They're chick magnets.

So says a survey by General Motors that found nearly nine in 10 women would rather talk to a guy in a Prius than a Porsche. Dumping the SUV in favor of an econobox would make you more popular at parties, too. Eighty percent of respondents said they find people who drive fuel efficient cars more interesting than those that don't.

Personally, we've never found people at parties give two shakes about what you rolled up in, but maybe we're attending the wrong parties. The survey found 45 percent of respondents consider gas guzzlers a fashion faux-pas.

We're not about to trust the company that brought us the Pontiac Aztek to know the first thing about what's sexy, but GM's survey underscores consumers' changing attitudes toward fuel efficiency as gas flirts with four bucks a gallon.

It wasn't all that long ago that Trent Lott - remember him? - said Americans would never embrace small cars and Sen. Barbara Mikulski said we needed "the functional civilian equivalent of a Humvee" to protect us from road rage. Detroit thought it could keep cranking out SUVs, and people kept buying them even as gas prices topped $2 a gallon, then $3. Just a few weeks ago GM honcho Bob Lutz said people won't give up their SUVs and pickup trucks until gas hits 10 bucks a gallon.

But with gas having crossed the $4 threshold in some cities and oil prices promising to climb out of sight, people are giving small cars a closer look. They're about the only thing automakers are selling these days, hybrid sales grew 38 percent last year even as auto sales declined, and Toyota saw sales of its Prius hybrid jump 67 percent last month. Even cheap econoboxes from the 1980s and 90s are in high demand.

Fuel economy has become consumers' No. 1 consideration when choosing a car, trumping even their preference for a particular automaker, according to a recent AAA survey. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said the government should adopt tougher fuel economy standards, and the Associated Press says high fuel prices have people driving less. And someone ought to tell Lutz that GM's own survey found 36 percent of consumers who describe themselves as "on the fence" about buying a hybrid said they'd take the plunge if gas reaches $4 a gallon.

As for us, we're thinking about getting a Nash Metropolitan.

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