Looking through the Internet I find cars that have very high gas mileage, but many that aren’t allowed to be sold here in the United States. Shouldn’t they be? Doesn't high gas mileage equate to better vehicles for the environment?
—Robert, in Rochester, New York
There are several reasons these efficient cars don’t get to hitch a ride across the oceans on those gigantic ships. Many fail to meet strict U.S. emission standards and “safety, bumper, and theft prevention standards,” as the Department of Homeland Security itself puts it. Therefore, the cost of the modifications needed to qualify can make it difficult for these fuel-saving automobiles to compete.
Marketing challenges also play a part in curtailing imports of efficient cars, because size does matter to Americans. Despite rising gas prices, the U.S. public remains backward in its car preferences, infatuated by bigger, more powerful vehicles that get crappy mileage. This makes foreign manufacturers understandably reluctant to try convincing us blockheads to try their smaller, more sensible, more economical rides.