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A pretty meaty piece from the NYT on the non-intuitive (PORTER_HYPOTHESIS) effect of regulations. And why Trump probably has things backwards about the Auto industry.

Traditionally, economists thought of regulation as a cost imposed by the government on companies. But in the 1990s, the economist Michael Porter argued that government rules could sometimes push industries to pursue technological innovations that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

In other words, regulations crafted in the right way could sometimes cost nothing — the rules would prompt innovations, attract new customers, and improve the industry over all. The idea took off among academics and regulators. Now it’s known as the “Porter Hypothesis,” and it has been shown to hold true in several studies across a wide range of industries.

There is some good historical evidence that regulations have been a primary driver of innovation in the American car business. In the 1970s, the American government began imposing fuel economy standards on car manufacturers. Rather than harm the industry, the rules — which made cars smaller, safer and more fuel efficient — played a crucial role in helping the American car business beat back competition from European and Japanese imports. They also allowed American cars to become more globally competitive. So the new rules bore out the Porter Hypothesis — they didn’t increase costs for consumers, but they improved cars.

There is also evidence that when the government backs off the car industry, cars do not improve much. The average fuel economy of American cars soared from 1975 to around 1980, when regulators were pushing hardest. Then, beginning with Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the government eased off, and cars began to get less efficient. It was only after the government imposed new fuel economy rules — first under President George W. Bush and then under President Barack Obama — that the average fuel economy of vehicles on American roads began rising again.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/technology/electric-car-regulations-trump.html?_r=0
 

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I overall agree; the core of the problem is that "big oil" has deep pockets and therefore a huge amount of influence over the auto industry...
 

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If it weren't for government subsidies, we'd be running our cars on alcohol, kerosene and batteries. With gov't regulations and subsidies, we have a giant unsustainable oil industry. Just need to go back a little further in history.

Regulation can cut both ways.

The regulators could be backing a terrible technology like sealed-beam headlights. Europe had advanced halogen and other systems way before the US because of this interference. Europe also had diesel because the regulations only looked at CO2 not other pollutants. Now they regret that decision and it is costing big bux to fix.
 

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Combining things in new, novel ways can be driven by limits and a desire or need to beat them. Sometime the innovation comes in the form of a VW emission cheat. Other times the result is a Prius (hybrid), EV1(BEV) or Tesla (laptop batteries). The Volt is also very innovative, combining aspects of the EV1 with some from a Prius and doing them both one better.
 

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...There is also evidence that when the government backs off the car industry, cars do not improve much. The average fuel economy of American cars soared from 1975 to around 1980, when regulators were pushing hardest. Then, beginning with Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the government eased off, and cars began to get less efficient. It was only after the government imposed new fuel economy rules — first under President George W. Bush and then under President Barack Obama — that the average fuel economy of vehicles on American roads began rising again.[/COLOR][/I][/INDENT][/INDENT]

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/technology/electric-car-regulations-trump.html?_r=0
Seems to equate improvement only with increasing fuel efficiency. Of course, when you let market forces dictate in a cheap gas environment, naturally, fuel efficiency is less of a concern to the buyer. Look at the market right now.
 

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The United States would not need to create fuel efficiency standards if a carbon tax could be placed on combustion. A big enough carbon tax could pay for universal health care, modernizing infrastructure, and diminish the human impact on the climate.
 

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The United States would not need to create fuel efficiency standards if a carbon tax could be placed on combustion. A big enough carbon tax could pay for universal health care, modernizing infrastructure, and diminish the human impact on the climate.
You're correct but that's like asking Al Capone to tax himself. The oil company crooks would never tax themselves like that nor would they allow it.

They do tax us however....so that we can fund lame military and weapons projects so as to sustain the crooks in oil and gas...partly. The other part is the military industry itself that makes billions upon billions in wholesale murder and maiming courtesy of our unwillingly paid tax dollars. All the while, not trashing the planet, fix our joke of a healthcare system, and providing more than embarrassingly poor schooling for our future kids is a huge problem to fund because "it's too expensive" and "they don't have the budget for it."

Like I said, we've no one to blame but ourselves for allowing this to happen.
 

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If it wasn't for Big Oil and the Government we'd have cars that run off water now - I'm sure of it, because I've read it on the internet! :)

The problem with this as a 'hypothesis' is that it must always be true to be a valid hypothesis, and it isn't. Sometimes it may be true, but being right occasionally doesn't make it right.
 

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Technology Review published an interesting article a few years back asking the question of why we don't have better fuel economy in ICE cars. The answer has nothing to do with engine technology, which, it turns out has doubled in efficiency since the 1980s. The answer is all the power sucking features being added to the cars as well as the added weight of vehicles. Face it, that 60 MPG Honda Prelude in the late 80s was a featherweight with no creature comforts. That same engine today would get maybe 30 MPG due to the increased weight needed to protect the occupants from the rise of the SUV. Add in the creature comforts and even more power gets diverted from propelling the car.
 

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The research for the article is not complete.

The way EPA economy is calculated has changed, causing lower MPG over time on paper, but not at the pump.
Emissions technology evolved over time from when it was a huge drain on fuel economy, to today, where it can actually improve economy.
And like Obermd said, FVMSS/NHTSA requirements have made cars significantly heavier.

But even with all that:
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=28105&id=37936&id=27987&id=38154

The new 2017 Cadillac is the same interior size as the 1984, it weighs more, with nearly twice the horsepower, but gets >50% better economy even when using the new tighter specifications for MPG.

The Corolla is a similar story.

I do find it comical that now President Trump has destroyed all the MPG gains at the pump we have enjoyed for decades in just under 6 months by his existence on the planet. You'd think that Donald Trump, Private Citizen would have had similar effects by breathing air in the US.
 
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