No longer the butt of jokes by large SUV owners, hybrid cars are now the choice of mainstream America and are poised to have another record sales year.

After gas prices jumped 13% in 2006 over 2005 consumers flocked to the hybrids and havenít left them as gas prices continue to be unstable and spook consumers. Sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks built by General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor continue to nose dive in sales while the hybrid car sales are immune to fluctuating gas prices, and only increase when gas prices soar.

Consulting firm KPMG International recent poll showed 89 percent of auto executives questioned described fuel economy as the top factor when consumers are selecting new vehicles. Compared to 58% in 2002.

Now a new study has even dispelled the one argument against purchasing a hybrid car, itís cost. Los Angeles-based now has reported hybrids save you money over gas cars. On average, sedans of similar size to the Prius cost motorists an average of $33,305 over the first five years of ownership, compared to the hybrid Prius $19,897. This more than justifies the additional $1000-$5000 hybrid cars typically cost. Not to mention the thousands saved in fuel costs and the many state rebate programs !

With the rosey picture for hybrid cars you would think Ford and GM would be backing hybrid car production this year. Surprisingly they have little to offer now and little for the near future. They appear to be focusing on layoffs and cutting production instead. They still canít shake their SUV gas guzzling ways. Sure the 90ís were good for sales, but watching your own self destruction for 10 years should be a wake up call. Whoís running Ford and GM, Ripp Van Winkle? Hopefullt the auto workers can wake him up, or maybe they need waking up too?

P. Fezziwig, contributes to , a website devoted to promoting fuel efficient cars and alternative fuels and, a website devoted to consumer reviews of auto repairs.