Thursday, February 21, 2008

When they come, they will build them.

"Our cities have been straining at their seams," declares a full-page newspaper automotive advertisement. "Traffic is jam-packed. Parking space is at a premium. And our suburbs have spread like wildfire. People are living farther from their work, driving more miles on crowded streets."

Were these words touting a new, fuel-efficient small car, such as the Toyota Prius or maybe the tiny Smart Fortwo? Not exactly. They appeared in newspapers across America on Sept. 27, 1959.

The Ad was for GM's new Chevrolet Corvair.

Lesson One: Incremental progress shouldn't be dismissed.

Lesson Two: Market forces, not government regulation, provide the most effective impetus for higher gas mileage.

Lesson Three: New technology will require new infrastructure, presenting a chicken-or-egg problem.


1 comment:

Bike Bubba said...

Well said. I'm an avid reader of old National Geographics, and reality is that even back in the 1960s and to a degree in the 1950s, automakers were putting out products that were pushing 30mpg. Some of them were also good for 200k miles.

Of course, if environmentalists admitted this, they would also be likely to realize that we're using the same Carnot cycle today that our grandfathers used, and hence shattering economy will necessarily come at the expense of other factors.