David R. Henderson  

Friday Night Video: Eric Peters on How Government Regulation Messes Up Cars

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Jeff Deist of the Mises Institute interviews one of my favorite writers on cars, Eric Peters. Whenever I teach my Energy Economics course, I spend a little time on how CAFE messes up cars. Peters discusses that in more detail and also discusses how safety regulation messes them up.

Highlights:
2:50-4:30. Tesla as a subsidy sucker. (Many commenters on the YouTube site go after Peters on this, but they don't cite any mistakes he makes. Yes, Elon Musk is on the side of the angels in going after state-level car dealer regulation, but so what? That's not what Peters is talking about. I'm sure he would agree with Musk on this.)
5:20. Safety mandates and their cost. Claims that without these mandates, we could get a low-end car today for $8K to $9K. Count me skeptical, but I do believe that the prices would come down by thousands of dollars.
5:50. Claims that the early 1980s K-Car (by Chrysler), if revamped with modern engine technology but not with all the safety requirements, would be able to get 65 mpg today.
6:40. Requirement for back-up cameras is a safety mandate, which means that when you get your annual or semi-annual check for your state DMV, if the camera is not in working condition, it will be required to be so.
8:40. Air bags, besides saving lives, also kill and maim.
10:40. How federal regulation of cars causes them to look increasingly alike.
12:20. If you want to avoid a lot of these problems with cars, buy pre-1995 cars or even relatively recent motorcycles.
13:30. Why manual transmissions have almost disappeared.
15:00. His humorous discussion of "clovers."


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
AMW writes:

From the original post:

5:50. Claims that the early 1980s K-Car (by Chrysler), if revamped with modern engine technology but not with all the safety requirements, would be able to get 65 mph today.

Damn, that must have been one slow car :)

David R. Henderson writes:

@AMW,
Thanks. Correction made. The “g” and the “h” are so close on the keyboard. :-)

Daniel Klein writes:

Nice, wide-ranging interview. I don't get the linking of bad driving and favoring the state, but Eric Peters comes off as reasonable, well informed, insightful. Loved the shout out to Bugs Bunny.

ThomasH writes:

Subsidizing specific technologies -- like electric cars -- especially subsidizing investing capital in them (instead of, for example, subsidizing miles traveled using of non-CO2 emitting energy source) -- is an inefficient policy measure to use to reduce the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.

His examples suggest that decision process for choosing the cost per lives saved/injuries averted may be flawed. This suggests a line of research into how this error, if it is an error, occurred.

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