I like cheap, when it's cheap for all concerned. That is, cheaper to make and run and maintain and clean up after. But so many times it's cheap to make and expensive to run and maintain, like incandescent lights. Steel rims are like that too, but there the picture isn't so clear. Like, steel rims are much more forgiving of damage. Then there's the conspiracy thought: those headlight covers are unique to each car model, and much more profitable for the replacement parts biz when yours catches a rock and has to be replaced.
The govt sticks us with some dubious tradeoffs. In the 70s and 80s, we had lousy emissions controls-- the EGR valve, and the air pump and charcoal cannisters. Today the safety standards are such that it's impossible to make a light car that is strong enough to pass. I read somewhere that the Metro cannot pass current US safety standards. I've noticed some states have high "safety" standards that just happen to generate lots of business for certain industries. Like, Virginia is so picky about cracks in the windshield they might as well just say "no cracks allowed at all" instead of their more complicated criteria that makes it sound like they're not so tough. When I asked why, they claimed it was for safety. The silver lining is that windshields are a bit cheaper in VA thanks to the economies of scale and competition VA's rules cause. VA also hassled me about side marker lights. They had to work. Didn't matter that many cars don't even have such lights. If your car has them, they must work. CA by constrast didn't care about a windshield crack or two and side marker lights, as long as your car met their legendary emissions standards. And TX, well... if you're not near a big city, TX is easy.