Addressing a federally-sponsored public forum on proposed fuel economy standards for automobiles, a leading aluminum industry representative discussed the vital role that materials selection and vehicle downweighting play in helping automakers improve the efficiency, emissions, safety and performance of their vehicles.
The public forum was jointly hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as part of their rulemaking effort addressing proposed fuel economy and emissions requirements for passenger vehicles beginning in model year 2017.
“A transition to strong, affordable and carbon-reducing aluminum already is underway, which will enable cars and trucks to get lighter – not necessarily smaller – and more fuel efficient. As both NHTSA and EPA have agreed, such a transition is a good thing both for consumers and the environment,” said presenter Doug Richman, Technical Committee Chairman for The Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG) and Vice President of Engineering for Kaiser Aluminum Corp.
Richman pointed to a 2011 survey of automakers by Ducker Worldwide, which found that automotive aluminum use is at all-time high levels and per-vehicle aluminum content will increase by 70% by 2025. He also cited a separate 2011 survey of automakers by DuPont, in which automotive engineers and executives cited aluminum above all other material as being the “most helpful” material in meeting the proposed federal fuel economy and emissions standards.
Richman also recognized regulators’ confirmation of the metal’s environmental benefits whereby the draft regulations specifically call out aluminum’s role in “…reducing lifecycle energy use and GHG emissions (i.e., the increased use of energy use and GHG emissions at the vehicle production stage are offset by the use-phase savings over the life of the vehicle).”
“A major automotive materials shift is underway. Downweighting is an important technology along with design and powertrain changes that develop, enabling a cost-savings without sacrificing safety or performance,” said Richman. “Simply stated, aluminum offers the fastest, safest and most cost-effective way to help meet goals of reduced fuel consumption and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”
About the Aluminum Transportation Group
The Aluminum Association Inc.’s Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG), communicates the benefits of aluminum in ground transportation applications to help accelerate its penetration through research programs and related outreach activities. The ATG’s mission is to serve member companies and act as a central resource for the automotive and commercial vehicle industries on aluminum issues. Members of the ATG include: Alcoa Inc., Novelis Inc., Rio Tinto Alcan Inc, Aluminum Precision Products Inc., Kaiser Aluminum Corporation, Hydro Aluminum North America and Sapa Group.