One thing about the auto industry that has long impressed me is its resilience to anything pen-pushing government bureaucrats worldwide can chuck at it.

History is littered with examples. It began in the 1960s - you automakers need to meet these new Federal safety and emissions laws we thought up. You got it. We in California don't think the Federal rules go far enough, we want tighter emissions controls. You got it. More states adopt the California rules. You got it. You need to fit automatic seatbelts (remember that 80s nightmare)? You got it. Driver airbags will be fitted. You got it. Passenger ones, too. You got it. And so it's gone.

And not just in the US. In the 1970s, Australian bureaucrats, though they'd deny it, first came up with a unique import barrier in the form of 'Australian Design Rule' safety and emission laws - just for their market. It required a unique Australian specification for every car. Automakers responded (though a few abandoned the market, at least for a while).

European automakers had mandatory rear foglights foisted on them after a series of high-profile motorway crashes in the 1970s. In the 1990s, buyers became very sensitive to how well cars did in the Euro NCAP crash tests. Automakers responded (Rover's obsolete 100 series was an early casualty, being axed soon after the first Euro NCAP results gave it an abysmal rating). Then Brussells bureaucrats decreed ABS would be standard (daytime running lights follow soon). They got 'em.

And so it goes. The current obsession this side of the pond is CO2 emission reductions, aided and abetted by tax rules in countries like Spain, the UK and Germany where the politicians hit your wallet pocket in direct proportion to the amount of CO2 emitted by the car you bought with your hard-earned. And, if it's the firm's car, you get hit even more for the privilege.

Yet again the automakers responded. Just this week Audi announced a revamped A6 range - its BMW 5-series/Merc E-class competitor - with a whole list of shiny new engines, all more fuel-efficient and environment-friendly. Included: a special low-CO2 (139g) 'e' model, a designation also recently applied to a new A3 model. 139g from a car that size is pretty impressive.

Also this week, Peugeot launched its enviro-friendly 'Blue Lion' range. (We're now seeing so many announcements like this we thought it merited a Hot Topic.) Like Renault and Ford earlier, this is a sub-brand and each of the automakers' model lines willl have at least one low-CO2 model therein. And let's not forget VW's BlueMotion diesel technology and the raft of super-clean diesels from VW, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, GM, Honda et al which will (re-)introduce North American buyers to the superb engines we in Europe have been enjoying for years.

While the pen-pushers shuffle paper on a million global government desks, dreaming up even more impositions on the industry, clever automaker and supplier boffins work long hours on such things as CO2 reduction, tweaking injectors, refining combustion chambers, and so on, or, in Hyundai's case, simply changing gear ratios.

You wonder what's to come. Just today, Our Man in Spain reported doubts there on the government's target of 1m electric vehicles by 2014 but Brussels is apparently hell-bent on moving to limit the sale of cars emitting more than 100g/km of CO2 by 2020.

Sure, the industry's currently facing difficult and challenging times, maybe for years to come. But I think, if history is a guide, it'll always come through whatever laws it has to meet, though not necessarily using fuel or technology we know too well now.

History is on its side.

Enjoy your weekend,

Graeme Roberts
Deputy Editor
just-auto.com