Guest Editorial: Regulation hurts consumers

The Orange County Register
Oct. 26
Guest Editorial

“Would you be interested in a brand-new, fully warranted, five-door crossover SUV built by a major, name-brand automaker that gave you 50-plus mpg with a gas (not diesel or hybrid) engine, that has a top speed around 125 mph, is capable of getting to 60 in 12 seconds (about the same as a Prius hybrid) that stickered for less than $5,000?”

So begins an intriguing post by Eric Peters, who writes about two important subjects — liberty and cars — in his EricPetersAutos.com blog. The vehicle in question is the Renault Kwid, which is roughly comparable to the Nissan Juke or Kia Soul.

But, like the Suzuki Alto 800 and the Hyundai Eon, which similarly have base models with a sticker price in the sub-$5,000 range, the Kwid is not available for sale in the United States.

The reason? Unnecessary safety and environmental standards.

The Kwid, for example, just has one airbag for the driver, not the dual front airbags mandated by the government (and, in practice, even more airbags are often needed to achieve high scores on increasingly stringent government crash tests). Nonetheless, it is still likely safer than, say, a SmartCar or others that do have the federal stamp of approval.

Consumers should be able to choose their own standards of safety. After all, we can still drive older cars that predate certain safety standards. And some people choose to ride motorcycles, which are far more dangerous than even the cars of yesteryear.

As for environmental regulations, emissions standards “ceased being reasonable back in the ‘90s,” Peters says. For years, exhaust emissions have been at least 97 percent “clean,” so additional requirements merely pursue the remaining 3 percent or less — often at great cost.

Autos like the Kwid, Eon and Alto “show us what we could have — were it not for the effrontery (and cupidity) of the government (and the car cartels) who now work together to shear us like sheep, while telling us it’s all for our own good, to keep us ‘safe,’” Peters contends.

As these value vehicles reveal, government mandates cost consumers thousands of dollars — not to mention the higher repair and insurance costs — for, at best, marginal improvements in safety and environmental quality. These regulations should be repealed so that consumers, not bureaucrats, can decide for themselves which features are worth the price.