Abstract: Strategies of European Automobile Manufacturers Facing Community Environmental Standards
After 1973, when the issues of pollution and fuel consumption gained significance in the context of the petrol crisis, countries gave priority to reducing fuel consumption. This new context was particularly threatening for the automobile industry, which therefore welcomed initiatives coordinated by the European Community to improve the global competitiveness of the European industry by harmonizing national standards of vehicle safety and the reduction of fuel consumption and noise. If all the actors in the automobile sector agreed on the general principle of reducing consumption, they nevertheless showed interesting differences about ways of achieving that goal. The aim of this essay is to highlight the strategies of the various participants facing the complex issues involved in reducing pollution. Were interests different from one firm to another or was there a certain unity at the national level? Did European manufacturers propose a unified answer to environmental questions or, on the contrary, did they have so many different goals that each tried to impose its own views on European institutions? More generally, this essay raises the question of the respective weight of sectoral cultures, by definition transnational, national cultures, and institutional frameworks on the attitudes of economic actors.