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Imperfect Competition, Consumer Behavior, and the Provision of Fuel Efficiency in Light-Duty Vehicles


  • Fischer, Carolyn

    () (Resources for the Future)


This study explores the role of market power on the cost-effectiveness of policies to address fuel consumption. Market power gives manufacturers an incentive to under- (over-) provide fuel economy in classes whose consumers, on average, value it less (more) than in others. Adding a second market failure in consumer valuation of fuel economy, a policy trade-off emerges. Minimum standards can address distortions from price discrimination but, unlike average standards, do not provide broad-based incentives for improving fuel economy. Increasing fuel prices raises demand for fuel economy but exacerbates undervaluation and incentives for price discrimination. A combination policy may be preferred. For modelers of fuel economy policy, failure to capture consumer heterogeneity in preferences for fuel economy can lead to significant errors in predicting the distribution of effort in complying with regulation, as well as the calculation and distribution of the benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • Fischer, Carolyn, 2010. "Imperfect Competition, Consumer Behavior, and the Provision of Fuel Efficiency in Light-Duty Vehicles," Discussion Papers dp-10-60, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-10-60

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nauleau, Marie-Laure & Giraudet, Louis-Gaëtan & Quirion, Philippe, 2015. "Energy efficiency subsidies with price-quality discrimination," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(S1), pages 53-62.
    2. Soren T. Anderson & Ian W. H. Parry & James M. Sallee & Carolyn Fischer, 2011. "Automobile Fuel Economy Standards: Impacts, Efficiency, and Alternatives," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(1), pages 89-108, Winter.

    More about this item


    fuel economy; regulation; imperfect competition; price discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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