Why are so many of the hybrids coming out ugly, impractical, or both?
Let's take the Prius, for instance. It is perhaps the ugliest car on the road, with the possible exception of the Echo, on which it is loosely based.
The Insight is a two seater, and is neither a roadster, a sports car, or a truck, which are the only vehicles with an excuse for having only two seats. I don't care that they have a fancy category to put it in -- it's still impractical, even for most single people. A US$20,000 that is only practical only for commuting is a non-starter for most households.
The Triax looks like a Pontiac Aztec, which was the ugliest car on the road until the the Prius appeared. The Ford Prodigy looks ungainly, and the Escape is ugly with a gas engine under the hood -- and the hybrid drivetrain doesn't improve it. The GM Precept looks like sketches I did of my dream car in junior high -- and I grew out of those.
About the only one of these cars I would actually own is the Dodge ESX, as it is based on the Intrepid, and doesn't look half bad. It's a concept car, however -- not currently planned for market. Why can't manufacturers make hybrid version of good looking cars? Like a hybrid Passat? I would buy that without question.
The ugliness and impracticality of the current crop of hybrid vehicles may tar hybrids with an (undeserved) reputation as dogs in the marketplace. This will stunt their market growth, reducing their positive effect on oil consumption and pollution.
Looks are a selling point for cars, especially ones as expensive as most hybrid vehicles to date have been. Twenty grand (and up) is simply too much to pay for something that is ugly.