The Imp-erfect Vehicle
I always thought that the Corvette came with the factory-installed tags "hyped" and "overpriced". However, this hasn't kept car enthusiasts from buying them over the years. Yet, now the same words applied to the Prius and other hybrids hold a different cachet altogether, resulting in a new kind of snobbishness (or a return to the snobbishness not seen since the latter half of the 70's). Phila expounds on this topic:1
So aside from the higher production cost translating into a higher sale price, we're basically talking here about market skimming, a common practice in which new products are targeted at affluent early adopters, who give the vehicle a sense of desirability that then drives demand in less affluent markets. In this strategy, supply is generally supposed to fall short of demand.The backlash has really begun. For yucks let me relay what the two lead radio wingnuts say about the Prius.
This has been SOP for the automotive industry for a long, long time, and anyone who writes about cars for a living knows it. But for some reason, hybrid cars often trigger an aggrieved deconstruction of marketing orthodoxies that usually get a free pass. Indeed, I've consistently noticed that hybrid vehicles are more likely to be portrayed in the media as "hyped" and "overpriced" than conventional vehicles with worse gas mileage and higher sticker prices. And in the case of the Prius, I've noticed a persistent refusal to acknowledge that it has other unique features and design elements that would arguably justify a premium price even if it weren't a hybrid.
- Michael SavageWeiner
- (paraphrasing) Hybrid means half-and-half. Driving a hybrid car means you are driving half a car. This makes you half a man.
- Hugh "Spew Spewitt" Hewitt
- (paraphrasing) I'm ticked because they are going to let Prius owners drive in the carpool lanes on LA freeways as a way to do social engineering. That's not what the carpools are designed for! Waaah, sob, mwa, mwa, sob.
1 Phila also mentioned that out LA way, 41 miles round-trip may account for a low-end of many of the long commutes. Having just recently heard talk on the subject via the local progressive Air America affiliate, I double-checked that yes indeed one of the ex-urbs around here has a majority of the citizens commuting long distances daily (65% commute outside of the area and 54% drive 30 miles or more round-trip).