With much of the country experiencing higher than usual gas prices and auto and business pundits alike predicting the death of SUVs, the focus is again on cars and their effects on the environment. Some people predict drivers’ environmental consciences will kick in and we’ll see a return to car-pooling while others expect more of us will leave the car at home and take public transit to work or wherever we need to go. While both of those options are perfectly acceptable and reasonable, they don’t address the bond people have with their cars. Owning and driving a car represent personal expression and freedom and because North Americans have had it so good for so long with cheap gas (compared to European drivers) we’re not willing to give up that freedom easily. Hybrid cars are touted as the solution that will let drivers be true to their inner Jack Kerouac while giving the environment a break. But, hybrids are still a bit more expensive than regular cars and I’ve yet to see what long term maintenance costs are on a Toyota Prius or a Ford Escape hybrid, to name just two. Still, if we all just bit the bullet and bought one, couldn’t we all breathe easier?