The legislative and administrative history of the mandatory fuel economy standards are reviewed, and the potential of such standards for achieving further improvements in new car fleet fuel economy is assessed. It is expected that the standards will have to be supplemented by policies which encourage research and development in new technologies and which mitigate economic dislocations resulting from efficiency-related changes in the automobile industry. An overview of automobile legislation covers safety, environmental, and fuel economy regulations, including a comparison of the structure and of assigned Executive and Congressional responsibilities for each. Safety regulations cover equipment performance with little flexibility in manufacture and no motive to provide innovative technology; emissions regulations cover vehicle performance, with no equipment required by regulation and a near-term technical fix; fuel economy regulations cover fleet performance, with manufacturer flexibility and with final average fuel economy dependent on consumer behavior. The history of the fuel economy program discusses the background, the rulemaking process, and details of passenger car and light truck rulemaking. "Economic practicality" and fuel economy are discussed: background, community/regional economics, industry compensation and structure, inflation/trade balance, and energy conservation costs vs. benefits. Current and projected technological innovations are contrasted. Current technology involves engine resizing, four- and five-speed transmissions, turbochargers, more sophisticated actuators, sensors and on-board processors for engine control and fuel utilization, and diesel engines. It is stated that the available fuel-efficient motor technology in western Europe and Japan is rapidly being used up, and that the possibility of more stringent fuel economy standards may be a deterrent to innovation. The effects of fuel economy regulations are summarized. Those for the time period up to 1985 include petroleum conservation, rejuvenation and modernization of facilities, competition, and market and financial risk. Prospects beyond 1985 are considered under technology generation and policy alternatives. Appended are a chronological table of Executive branch activities on motor vehicle fuel economy, 1970-1976 (nonmandated), and a summary of fuel economy rulemaking activities for 1977.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Also published in HS-028 918, "Government, Technology, and the Future of the Automobile," New York, 1980 p 118-43. Presented at Harvard Business School Symposium on Government, Technology, and the Automotive Future, Boston, 19-20 October 1978.
  • Corporate Authors:

    McGraw-Hill, Incorporated

    330 West 42nd Street
    New York, NY  United States  10036
  • Authors:
    • John, R R
    • Coonley, P S
    • Ricci, R C
  • Publication Date: 1980

Media Info

  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: 26 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00392310
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-028 926
  • Files: HSL, NTL, USDOT
  • Created Date: Feb 28 1985 12:00AM