October 17, 2005

Today in Automotive History

1973 Origins of a fuel revolution

On this day, 11 Arab oil producers increased oil prices and cut back production in response to the support of the United States and other nations for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. The same day, OPEC, (The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), approved the oil embargo at a meeting in Tangiers, Morocco. Almost overnight, gasoline prices quadrupled, and the U.S. economy, especially its automakers, suffered greatly as a result. The U.S. car companies, who built automobiles that typically averaged less than 15 miles per gallon, were unable to satisfy the sudden demand for small, fuel-efficient vehicles. The public turned to imports in droves, and suddenly Japan's modest, but sturdy, little compacts began popping up on highways all across America. Even after the oil embargo crisis was resolved, American consumers had learned an important lesson about the importance of fuel efficiency, and foreign auto manufacturers flourished in the large American market. It took years for the Big Three to bounce back from the blow; eventually they gained ground with the introduction of their own Japanese-inspired compacts in the 1980s.

Posted by Quality Weenie at October 17, 2005 08:52 AM | TrackBack