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In his new Forbes column, Jerry Flint considers the coming wave of hybrids in auto dealers' showrooms:

The Prius is a winner; but that's not the case for Toyota's other hybrids. Prius accounts for two-thirds of Toyota's sales volume in hybrids, even though the company makes five other hybrid vehicles, three of which it sells under its luxury Lexus brand.

He writes that other models aren't big sellers, and that Honda is dropping its Accord hybrid. Then Flint hits on this:

Yet I think that the major factor behind the success of the Prius is that it looks like nothing else on the road. All the other hybrids on the market, such as the Toyota Camry hybrid, cost thousands of extra dollars, and yet look almost identical to non-hybrid models bearing the same nameplate.

Interesting point. I always suspected the hybrid hype was a fad. But I hadn't considered that the Prius popularity had just as much to do with age-old -- and timeless -- car buyer motivations than with their desire to save energy.

Source: Here Come the Hybrids: What's Behind The Prius' Success?