Auto Research and Regulation

February 23, 1979

Report Outline
Federal Prodding of the Industry
Scope of Government Regulation
Detroit Emphasis on ‘Re-Engineering’
Special Focus

Federal Prodding of the Industry

Threat of Oil Scarcity From Iran's Cutoff

One of the facts of American economic life is the intrinsic antagonism between government regulatory agencies and the industries they oversee. Nowhere is the difference of opinion between government regulator and regulated industry more sharp than in the U.S. automobile industry. American automakers have become one of the nation's most regulated industries since Congress passed the first federal auto regulations in the mid-1960s.

The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversees the industry's safety and fuel economy standards. The other main area of regulation — emission controls — comes under the purview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The automakers have complained loudly about the federal government's regulatory role since it first affected them. They argue that regulations interfere with production schedules and industry growth, and involve large financial outlays which are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Moreover, industry leaders say, regulatory action hampers them economically. This, the argument continues, hurts the American economy.

Government regulators are joined by environmentalists, consumer leaders and others in arguing that not only does government regulation not harm the auto industry financially, it performs a worthwhile public service. They say that regulations help make automobiles safer, less harmful to the environment and more fuel efficient. Fuel efficiency has been a national goal since the 1973–74 Arab oil boycott made Americans fully aware their country had become dependent on foreign petroleum. It accounted for 36.1 percent of U.S. consumption in 1973 and 43.4 percent last year.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jun. 19, 2020  Fuel Efficiency Standards
Feb. 01, 2019  Self-Driving Cars
Feb. 17, 2017  Reducing Traffic Deaths
Jul. 25, 2014  Future of Cars
Feb. 06, 2009  Auto Industry's Future Updated
May 16, 2003  SUV Debate
Oct. 26, 2001  Auto Safety
Jan. 21, 2000  Auto Industry's Future
Jul. 25, 1997  Aggressive Driving
Oct. 16, 1992  U.S. Auto Industry
Apr. 27, 1990  Curbing Auto-Insurance Premiums
Jul. 14, 1989  Automakers Face Trouble Down the Road
Aug. 31, 1984  U.S. Auto Industry: Strategies for Survival
Feb. 23, 1979  Auto Research and Regulation
Apr. 28, 1978  Automotive Safety
May 10, 1974  Auto Industry in Flux
Apr. 18, 1973  Auto Emission Controls
Jan. 13, 1971  Auto Insurance Reform
Jul. 27, 1966  Fortunes of Auto Industry
Jun. 04, 1965  Automobile Safety
Jul. 10, 1964  Automobile Insurance and Traffic Safety
Nov. 19, 1958  Small Cars
Apr. 17, 1957  Better Driving
Jul. 01, 1954  Competition in Automobiles
Mar. 23, 1954  Automobile Liability Insurance
Dec. 24, 1952  Highway Accidents: Causes and Remedies
Aug. 21, 1945  Automobiles in the Postwar Economy
Sep. 02, 1938  The Market for Automobiles
Oct. 26, 1932  Outlook for the Automobile Industry
Dec. 10, 1929  Condition of the Automobile Industry
Jan. 30, 1928  Automobile Fatalities and Compulsory Insurance
Dec. 10, 1927  The Status of the Automobile Trade
Motor Vehicles
Regulation and Deregulation