In fact, according to a recent study by Motoring.co.uk, Toyota Prius sales in Great Britain are up 51.5 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and Nissan's Leaf looks like another big hit.
Meanwhile, across the pond, U.S. consumers are less excited by green automobiles, a category that includes hybrids and electric. Sure, small car sales are up and Chevy's done great business with its revamped automotive lineup that includes the electric/gas Volt.
But automotive consultant JD Power and Associates in its inaugural 2011 U.S. Green Automotive Study says, "Automakers will be fighting over the relatively few consumers who are willing to drive green."
It could be the price of fuel. Petroprices.com reported an average UK cost to the equivalent of about $8.33 per gallon. That compares with a California average of about $4.12 as of May 23, according to AAA.
Big motivator. Americans are used to towing, hauling and packing in the number of passengers we want. Need help with that horse trailer? How about grabbing a tow bar and dragging that piece of junk Oldsmobile to the nonprofit junk car fundraiser?
Sure, we say. No problem. That's what that 460-cubic-inch monster in the pickup out back is for. Step on the gas pedal and watch the little red needle on the fuel gauge drop. It's a matter of pride with a lot of us.
Westlake Village, Calif.-based JD Power says that cultural phenomenon may stick with us awhile. I certainly haven't seen a decrease in the number of massive SUVs on the road. I find it reassuring to be sandwiched between a couple of them in a parking lot. Backing-out roulette is always an invigorating experience.
The study says consumers cite purchase price as a stumbling block to get into the new line of green cars. Remember, this is for electric and hybrid automobiles.
Other problems mentioned by consumers were driving range, or lack of it (a Leaf, according to a source, gets about 84 miles to a charge), increased maintenance costs and performance. The study says consumers are more likely to "switch into a more fuel-efficient vehicle powered by a traditional internal combustion engine than an alternative powertrain vehicle."
Yet, I've written about how Honda has positioned its hybrid Insight base price very close to that of the Civic. The statistics for performance aren't much different, although, and I've mentioned this before, my wife said there was no way anybody would catch her behind the wheel of "that thing," as she referred to the Insight. She purchased a Civic.
Peggy's issue was more cosmetic. She didn't care for the design, but like other consumers in the JD Power study she also worried about battery replacement costs.
My family tends to keep our cars and drive them a lot. Our daughter sold the 1986 Accord LX at 360,000 miles and it was still going somewhat strong. My 1981 Toyota pickup was cut up for scrap at about 260,000 miles but by that time was so tired and rotted out rust-wise that it had few usable parts.
And I'm still bound and determined to keep my 1974 Super Beetle functioning.
Drivers in the UK are a bit more adventurous, and perhaps a bit more insightful. Chris Green, co-founder and sales director of Motoring.co.uk, said increased demand can be traced to increased reliability and performance.
"In the future, we will see more and more people opting for cars that are cheap to maintain rather than splashing out on models to impress the neighbours," Green said in a statement. He estimated demand will increase in the island nation dramatically over the next 18 months.
And in this country, expectations are that consumers will buy into the alternative concept. Nissan has said it will install 30 solar-assisted charging stations at its Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in Franklin, Tenn.
And they will have a lot to choose from. JD Power says that by the end of 2016, it expects manufacturers to offer 159 hybrid and electric vehicle models in the U.S. market. In 2009, there were 31.
Photo: Along the Oodnadatta Track, Australia, by mancity.