From what I was told (I used to run the well-known "R-D1 FAQ website", which I gave to Camerquest - see their website), the camera was never meant to be sold and marketed like a typical product. It was simply an exercise to promote Seiko/Epson and show off their technology and manufacturing ability.
That photographers took the camera seriously caught Epson by surprise. I expect they they thought the 10,000 initial cameras made would sell slowly and evoke little interest beyond simply a few mostly non-photographers thinking it was cool technology.
Think of the R-D1 more as a limited-edition concept rather than a typical product to be marketed normally with the aim of making a profit and evidence of Epson's entry into a niche high-end camera area - that was never Epson's intent.