BusinessWeek had a different article on the hybrid technology finding its way in to upcoming models and specifically addresses the emphasis Toyota has put on the technology. What I find most disturbing about the article is the conclusion, where the author beings with the line Sounds great. Now if only the hybrids can actually make money. BusinessWeek has a tendancy to alternate between the praising the long-term vision that Executives so often seem to lack, such as pushing a whole new method to replace the original combustion engine, and the shortsightedness that is emphasized on Wall Street and that is echoed in comments such as the one above.
Honestly, the value that Toyota is gaining from selling its first generation Prius hybrid, despite losing an estimated $8,000 a car initially, is incalcuble. They are the first in the marketplace with a “mass-market” car, giving them a perception advantage. They have real-world data to drawn on regarding performance, durability, safety, and marketing that provide them with an advantage over their competitors. This is already paying dividends in the next generation of cars and their announcement to offer more hybird models over the next few years. In fact, the value is summed up best by a quote in the same article from a Honda executive: “If Toyota can drive the cost of the technology down, they will have a 5-to-10-year lead on every other manufacturer.”