Cars and trucks would be far more advanced than they are now, if only the government would get out of the way. Government, as you might suspect, is made up not of experts in any particular field, or scientists, engineers, or entrepreneurs for that matter. It’s mainly comprised of control freaks, busybodies and egomaniacs whose sole concern is keeping their personal gravy train fueled and rolling. To believe that any politician actually cares whether cars have air bags and back up cameras, or how the most recent CAFE -fuel economy- numbers are achieved is the height of naivete. Far more important to please those who would directly benefit from any mandates in the name of safety, such as those self same manufacturers providing said mandatory equipment.
In reality, modern cars perform about the same as cars from the mid to late 80s. Fuel mileage is still in the mid 20s. And there were some cars in that era that got as high as 50+ mpg. With mechanical fuel pumps and carburetors, no less. Surely with modern electronic engine management, better manufacturing methods with higher tolerances and improved tire technology even the most hyper horse-powered car should be able to significantly improve fuel mileage? Nope. And the reason is simpler than you might think.
You see, the average new car for sale today is 500-800 pounds heavier than cars from yesteryear. And weight is not the friend of fuel economy. What with the airbags, cameras, engine management tech, bigger wheels, more metal and myriad other stuff added for the sake of “safety,” it’s no wonder that manufacturers struggle to meet fuel standard. It’s also no small wonder why mane fuel efficient cars that are available elsewhere in the world are unavailable here; companies like Renault and Vauxhall just don’t find the added expense of making their cars U.S. compliant worth the trouble.
It’s not as though we, the consumer have any choice in the matter. It matters not if you want airbags, or computers, or even seat belts in your car. You have no choice. It’s not like it was with power windows and air conditioning, which became so popular the are now de facto standard equipment. Heck, who under the age of 40 remembers when a radio was an option? I venture to say that without government mandates, most safety stuff, like seat belts, would be a popular dealer installed option. Multiple bombs airbags? Maybe, maybe not.
Modern engineers and designers must constantly work to make their creations compliant with the whims of an overreaching and frankly clueless apparatus more concerned with self preservation than with actual advancement. I say get the politburo out of the way, let the creative and brainy types do thier jobs, and let the market decide what is safe. Believe it or not, it might just work.