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Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl

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Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 26 Sep 2018, 03:41
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Question Stats:

63% (01:45) correct 37% (02:00) wrong based on 208 sessions

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Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantly reduced the cost of manufacturing and operating electric-powered cars. Nevertheless, the cost per gallon of gasoline at which it would become more economical to operate an electric car than a regular gas-powered car has remained unchanged.

Which of the following, if true, would do the most to explain why electric cars have become cheaper to operate but break-even point between electric and gas cars has not changed?

(A) The price per gallon of gasoline has dropped by 25% over the last five years.
(B) Electric-car manufacturers have managed to reduce production costs despite an increase in some raw material prices.
(C) Improvements in aerodynamics have made regular gas-powered cars more efficient to operate.
(D) Relative to the number of gas-powered cars, there are very few electric cars on the road today.
(E) When the price of gasoline rises, more people are willing to take public transportation to work.

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Originally posted by mojorising800 on 21 Jan 2010, 10:47.
Last edited by Bunuel on 26 Sep 2018, 03:41, edited 2 times in total.
Renamed the topic and edited the question.
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Re: Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl  [#permalink]

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17 Aug 2010, 13:38
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Hi Folks,

Let's apply the Kaplan method here.

Step 1: Identify the Question Type. The word 'explain' gives it away--this is an Explain question. That means that we are not dealing with an argument--there is no evidence, assumption, or conclusion. Rather, we have two facts that appear to contradict--and that's what we'll look for.

Step 2: Untangle the Stimulus. This is a tricky prompt, and there seems to be some trouble understanding it. The prompt references "the cost per gallon of gasoline at which it would become more economical to operate an electric car than a regular gas-powered". And this point has nothing do do with the actual price of gas!

Although picking numbers is usually a math strategy, it can also be useful in situations like this to illustrate a complex stimulus. In this case, let's imagine that an electric car costs \$5000 more than a gas car. And let's imagine that the electric burns 1000 gallons less fuel over its lifetime.

If gas costs \$5/gallon, then these to cars are a financial wash. The \$5000 you spent on the electric car is exactly canceled by the \$5 * 1000 dollars you save on gasoline. On the other hand, gas at \$4 means you lose money on an electric car, and gas at \$6 means you save money with an electric car. In other words, the actual value of gas is completely irrelevant to the prompt itself--we're talking about a hypothetical price that tells us which car is more efficient!

So now that we've decoded the prompt, we can paraphrase it--or, specifically, paraphrase the contradiction. In this case, we know two things: that electric cars have improved in an absolute sense, but that price point remains the same. Thus, our paraphrase is

"The efficiency of electric cars has improved in absolute terms, but it hasn't improved relative to gas-powered cars."

Once we've boiled it down to these terms, the answer should jump out at us. How could electric cars improve in efficiency, but still not be better than gas cars? The gas cars must be getting better too!

Step 4: Evaluate the answer choices.

So now we know what we're looking for: something that shows how gas-powered cars are becoming more efficient. With that prediction in mind, (C) stands out as the best match and the correct answer.
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Re: Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl  [#permalink]

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23 Jan 2010, 11:40
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Hey all,

Looks like a lot of you were heading in the wrong direction on this one, so I thought I'd weigh in. It's really important to pay attention to the exact wording of the conclusion here. "The cost per gallon at which it would become more economical to operate an electric car than a regular gas-powered car has remained unchanged." That cost per gallon is a theoretical number that the price of gasoline would need to reach before operating an electric car would become more economical than operating a gas powered car. The ACTUAL price per gallon of gasoline cannot affect that theoretical number. If I tell you that electric cars won't be more efficient than gas powered ones until gas costs ten bucks a gallon, the fact that gas maybe went down to four bucks a gallon does nothing to EXPLAIN why gas needs to cost ten bucks a gallon. This means that A cannot be the answer.

The answer must be C. This is because if gas-powered cars have become more gas-efficient, that would move the theoretical cost per gallon price upwards (in other words, now that gas-powered cars are more efficient, electric cars have to be EVEN MORE efficient to be economical).

Hope that helps!

Tommy
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Re: Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl  [#permalink]

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23 Jan 2010, 12:34
Thanks Tommy but that was over my head.
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Re: Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl  [#permalink]

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23 Jan 2010, 12:47
Let me try to put it more clearly.

The question tells us that there is some theoretical cost per gallon of gasoline (presumably quite high) at which it will finally be more economical to drive an electric car than a gas-powered one. Let's call that cost X. The question wants to know how it is that even though electric cars have become cheaper to operate (think of that as the cost of electricity), that value X has not changed.

Answer choice A merely tells us that gas, in the real world, has gotten cheaper. That's great. But it doesn't explain why that theoretical cost X hasn't changed. The only thing that could explain that would be that even though electric cars have gotten more efficient, so have gas-powered cars.

Hopefully that was clearer!

Tommy Wallach
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Re: Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl  [#permalink]

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09 Feb 2012, 11:00
Tommy Wallach, how come the theoretical cost X hasn't changed if technological improvements have significantly reduced the cost of manufacturing and operating electric-powered cars AND improvements in aerodynamics have made regular gas-powered cars more efficient to operate? I think these two factors should actually lower the theoretical cost X, but we know it has not changed. So I think there is a contradiction in your reasoning. Please answer.
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Re: Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl  [#permalink]

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09 Feb 2012, 13:32
sam117 wrote:
Tommy Wallach, how come the theoretical cost X hasn't changed if technological improvements have significantly reduced the cost of manufacturing and operating electric-powered cars AND improvements in aerodynamics have made regular gas-powered cars more efficient to operate? I think these two factors should actually lower the theoretical cost X, but we know it has not changed. So I think there is a contradiction in your reasoning. Please answer.
Thank you

I think I can elaborate a bit on what tommy is trying to say. Basically the question is comparing two costs, and these two costs help to derive a 3rd cost. In theory if one goes up or down, the third cost should be affected. Its tricky to explain, I hope you are with me on this. Now the argument says that the cost of one thing is going down, but the 3rd cost is not going down. It asks us to explain how this could have occurred. THis could only have occurred if the two original costs were going down in the same proportion or at-least headed in the same direction because the third cost is a balance of the two. Its like a see-saw, we have to balance the load on both sides to maintain a balance, which is being maintained. Hence the difference is countered by a reaction from the other side, in a direction that is already asserted in the argument. The cost of maintaining gasoline powered cars has to go down to maintain the balance and hence a steady cost (the third one which is a derivative of the first two costs).
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Re: Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl  [#permalink]

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26 Sep 2018, 03:37
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Re: Over the last five years, technological improvements have significantl   [#permalink] 26 Sep 2018, 03:37
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