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Technical Paper

The Automobile: Unwanted Technology - The Later Years Part I: Cars and Crises 1960-1990 Part II: The Dawning of Automotive Electronics

Several factors have influenced the size and design of domestic passenger cars over the past 30 years. Of most significance has been the influx of imported cars, initially from Europe, later from Japan. Interspersed within the fabric of this influx have been two energy crises and several recessions, and the onset of safety, emission, and energy regulations. These factors have led to various responses by domestic manufacturers as indicated by the types of products and vehicle systems that they have introduced during this period. This paper chronicles both the events as well as the responses.
Technical Paper

The Automobile - Unwanted Technology - Part I-The Early Years

When the raucous, fragile, imperfect American automobile made its debut there was much concern and consternation. The costs, complexities, choices and confusion in the marketplace resulted in an ultra conservative attitude towards untested innovation or new technology. Its frailties made the American car no match for its European counterparts and despite an early movement in the direction of a small inexpensive sturdy car to handle atrocious roads, most early manufacturers opted to produce expensive more profitable large models. However, many innovative minds worked to solve the early problems and imperfections of the automobile and although their efforts were not initially approved or accepted, they provided the framework or perhaps the inspiration for later development.