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Invention and innovation: An introduction
Invention and innovation: An introduction

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18.5 Government regulations and legislation

You saw earlier in Part 2 how governments can stimulate invention by providing incentives for manufacturers to develop new products. The example given was in the field of alternative fuel vehicles in the USA and Europe. As well as influencing the development of innovations, government legislation and regulations can also affect diffusion by creating conditions that encourage consumers to buy and use particular innovations.

In the UK the government has introduced a mixture of incentives to encourage the wider use of less polluting vehicles. Since March 2001 the levels of vehicle excise duty and company car tax for new vehicles has been linked to the carbon dioxide emissions of each model of vehicle rather than to the engine size. In addition, lower taxation levels are applied to alternative fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) compared with petrol and diesel. Low-emission, alternative fuel vehicles are currently (2005) exempt from the central London congestion charge, which has already brought about an increase in drivers and fleet managers opting for LPG or CNG conversions and a slow but steady increase in the use of such vehicles.

Activity 14

Taking personal audio products as an example, where are you on Rogers' diffusion curve? Are you in with the innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority or laggards?