The Cost of Being Better
Kevin Salwen on Making a Difference
This weekend, I headed to my local Toyota dealer to do my part for the world. I was ready to trade in our family wagon for a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. At 33 miles to the gallon in city driving, the Highlander was finally the vehicle that could burn less fuel AND that could handle our family with 2 kids and 2 dogs.
I looked at the sticker -- $41,000 and swallowed hard. The lower-cost plain, old Highlanders aren't in yet, just the souped-up, leathered, moonroofed, GPS-systemed, sound-system juiced versions. Then came the real shocker: The dealer asking for an additional $2,500 -- which he labeled a 'Father's Day Special,' as if I was supposed to drop to my knees in appreciation. Total it all up and I left the dealership with a proposal for a new Highlander with a cost of $48,000!!!
Lest you think it's just the dealer's markup, consider this: The Highlander Hybrid engine adds $6,400 to the cost compared with an similarly equipment gasoline-only engine. Welcome to the world of being better. Want to not exploit kids making apparel in Third World countries? Prepare to pay a bit more. Ditto for non-modified foods, environmentally correct home cleaners and a host of other products.
In the end, we'll buy the Highlander; I'm hunting for a better deal now. It's partly because we want to leave less of a footprint on the environment. But it's more that we want to make a statement that companies must keep making hybrids -- and people need to keep buying and driving them.
I just wish it wasn't this hard.