IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Automobiles on Steroids: Product Attribute Trade-Offs and Technological Progress in the Automobile Sector


  • Christopher R. Knittel


This paper estimates the technological progress that has occurred since 1980 in the automobile industry and the trade-offs faced when choosing between fuel economy, weight, and engine power characteristics. The results suggest that if weight, horsepower, and torque were held at their 1980 levels, fuel economy could have increased by nearly 60 percent from 1980 to 2006. Once technological progress is considered, meeting the CAFE standards adopted in 2007 will require halting the trend in weight and engine power characteristics, but little more. In contrast, the standards recently announced by the new administration, while attainable, require nontrivial "downsizing." (JEL: L50, L60)

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher R. Knittel, 2011. "Automobiles on Steroids: Product Attribute Trade-Offs and Technological Progress in the Automobile Sector," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3368-3399, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:7:p:3368-99

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

    File URL:
    File Function: dataset accompanying article
    Download Restriction: no

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    2. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1998. "The Effects of the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency Standards in the US," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 1-33, March.
    3. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2002. "Simple and Bias-Corrected Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment


    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Automobiles on Steroids: Product Attribute Trade-Offs and Technological Progress in the Automobile Sector (AER 2011) in ReplicationWiki


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:7:p:3368-99. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.