"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.