Plenty of automakers are doing some exciting things these days—and it seems they’re all going in different directions to do it. GM’s new Chevy Volt is setting a new standard for hybrids, Mazda has developed a crazy new gasoline engine, and Nissan has brought us the first mass-market all-electric car.
Lest we forget, Ford is in on the festivities as well. In an all-out effort to lower the cost of their hybrid offerings Ford has in-sourced (is that a word?) nearly all of its hybrid technology. Ford designed its own hybrid battery, which will soon start production in Ford’s Rawsonville, Michigan plant, as well as its own hybrid transmission, to be produced in Detroit.
Software development for the hybrids has also been brought in-house. The results? Costs on Ford’s newest generation of hybrids dropped by a cool 30%, allowing Ford to offer its hybrid version of the Lincoln MKZ at the exact same price as its gasoline counterpart–$35,455.
Ladies and gents, the train is finally pulling into the station. Ford wrongly estimated that 15% of its Lincoln MKZ sales would be hybrids. In actuality 25% of customers have been springing for the MKZ hybrid, a statistic which is still way too low in this humble blogger’s opinion.
Not that the results are baffling to me, because I understand how consumer economics work, and how resistant consumers are to “newfangled” technology they don’t yet fully trust. But at my core I’m an ideological fellow, so here’s my argument: I really can’t begrudge consumers for rejecting hybrids and EVs while they’re priced several thousand dollars higher than gasoline vehicles, but once the price is identical…well, there’s just no excuse, people. You’re still getting your gasoline engine, and you’re simultaneously saving some greenbacks on gasoline. It’s a win-win scenario.
Let’s not make the mistake of fearing the future. Nobody wants to be the “back in my day!” geezer everyone finds so insufferable.
As the late Hunter S. Thompson once said: “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.”