That’s the observation of Kazuo Okamoto, the incoming head of research and development for Toyota in this Financial Times article (subscripition required). With our relatively low gas prices (I know — it’s hard to believe, but we’ve still got really cheap gas compared to the rest of the world), the higher cost of a hybrid doesn’t make financial sense. So why are they so popular? Commenters at Green Car Congress (where I found this article) have ideas, including the “cool” factor, the desire to do something about environmental issues (which Okamoto also mentions), and even preparation for a future when gas isn’t so cheap and available. Is this a sign that Americans are more environmentally aware than many of us tend to believe? Or (as some have said), is the hybrid buying spree a fad?