News came out last week from the Detroit Auto Show that Toyota and Ford will be looking to release pure electric vehicles (not range extending fakers like the Chevy Volt) in the near future - about 2012. It seems to be a theme at this year's show, as all other automakers were releasing some sort of hybrid version of something. The big question is whether next year's show will still have the same focus. As oil prices decline (I paid $1.89 per gallon the other day!), there will be less pressure for consumers to buy fuel efficient cars thus less incentive for automakers to develop new technologies. Do you think a company like Tesla Motors could have been built and funded in an era where gasoline costs $1.25 per gallon? Perhaps, but it wouldn't get as much attention as it does (and deservedly so, the Tesla Roadster is amazing). When you think about it rationally, there are many reasons to want to get a fuel efficient car, the least of which should be to save money. The environment and national security should be the top reasons but often times we only see what's directly affecting our wallets.
UPDATE: As a point of clarification, I don't mean to say that people shouldn't be cost conscious in these difficult times. My point is that not buying a hybrid because it may cost more initially is not a good argument. The cost of buying a hybrid versus a non-hybrid compact or mid-size car is not that great plus the savings in gas over time will minimize that gap even further. If you don't want to buy a hybrid because you need to haul kids, groceries, lumber, etc. that's fine. However, if you're waffling over whether to get a Corolla, Focus, or Jetta, buying a Prius or a Civic Hybrid isn't much of a stretch. Trust me, you'll make that money back in about 4-5 years.