'Hybrid tax' down to $2,500, hybrid cars now profitable

Most people would agree that hybrid cars are generally good for the environment. That's fine and dandy. But if being good for the environment costs money, then all of a sudden going green becomes a lot less appealing. What's more important, saving a couple bucks, or saving the planet from certain doom? Well, good news: now you can do both.

Back in the day when hybrids were new and exciting, they were also expensive. They were expensive for consumers, and expensive for manufacturers, too. The Toyota Prius, for example, used to cost about $6,000 more than a Toyota non-Prius, and even with that premium, Toyota was losing money whenever someone drove off in one — not the greatest business model. Luckily for planet Earth, trees and cute lil' endangered critters everywhere, car manufacturers have had the foresight to stick with it, and improvements in technology have made these cars cheap for us, profitable for companies, and better for the planet.

A Toyota Prius hybrid will now set you back just about $2,500 extra, and even at that low low "tax," that's still enough for Toyota to make some profit. How, you ask, is this possible? In a word, "fasterbettercheaper." Toyota and other manufacturers have gotten better at making things like batteries and electric motors on the cheap, and they've figured out how to do it all while using fewer of those expensive rare-earth metals like dysprosium, which has increased in cost by a factor of 20 over the last decade. Best of all, manufacturers seem more than happy to pass the savings on to you!

The moral here, if we're going to squeeze a moral out of this news, is that technologies that are good often start off so expensive that it doesn't make sense for anyone to use them. But if you just stick with it and keep working on getting the cost down, eventually they will be commercially viable. You can apply this to anything: computers, air travel, hybrid cars, home robots, 3D printing — the list goes on. Just have faith in the fasterbettercheaperness of technological progress, and use it to get in early on the next big thing that will make the world a better place.

Via Tech Review

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