Not to get boring and long-winded, here, but innovation, R&D, and affordable manufacturability are all separate things. You gotta have all three, to get an affordable piece of new technology in your garage (or your livingroom or wherever,) IMO.
True, i work for a software company and r&d "supposed" to be where our major expenses are, but we run our company rather conservatively...... that is why we're neither the market leader nor has gone bankrupt!
There has been a suggestion by a well-known economist to impose a large (like 50 cents/gallon) federal gas tax but compensate by lowering the income tax. Apparently the positive effects of the income tax break on the economy would far overcome the negative effects of the gas tax hike. Now, one would expect poor families who might have to opt for a longer commute due to cheaper housing in the exurbs to get hit hard by the tax hike, but interestingly enough there's a 1991 MIT study that claims the lower income brackets aren't going to be highly affected.
This is all, of course, a moot point because such tax hikes will never get approved, seeing how gas prices are a tangible everyday expenditure that everyone's riled up over anyhow. Which is a pity, because I'd love to see gas taxes on par with Canadian or European levels, with the revenue going to fund public transit.
Not that it would do too much good on the whole. American transportation is so car-centered it's sickening. All regional transit systems are woefully underfunded, as is Amtrak. A significant gas tax hike would help fix existing transit systems in major metropolitan areas, but the rest of the country is hopeless. Across-the-board gas tax hike to subsidize public transit wouldn't sit well with the majority who would never see its benefits. That's why regional transit is typically funded through sales tax, although funding via gas tax is more sensible and probably more stable.
Basically, America is thirld world when it comes to public transit, and sadly I don't see this changing anytime soon, the political system being what it is.