Automakers in the US are now in a race against time in reducing the weight of vehicles to meet new US standards on fuel economy.
The new mandates will take effect in 2016, giving automakers such as Ford and General Motors just one design cycle to make significant changes that will require costly steel substitutes such as aluminium, new steel alloys and magnesium.
What are the fuel consumption requirements?
Automakers must reach an average fleet fuel economy of 6.6 litres/100kmbby 2016. Light trucks – which were half of all US auto sales in the first 11 months of 2010 – will have to get about 7.8 litres/100km.
The US corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard for 2010 is 8.1 litres/100km. For light trucks alone, it is 9.4 litres/100km, according to government data.
In addition to the 2016 target, automakers may have to achieve CAFE standards of 3.8 litres/100km for the overall fleet by 2025, less than the most ambitious scenario outlined by the US government.
Why is this such a big challenge?
Trucks in the US are characterized by being big in size and the demand that they be able to handle heavy loads and towing in unforgiving conditions.
Current pickups weigh an average of nearly 2300kg. The weight of trucks has jumped 22 percent from 2000 to 2010, federal data shows, while fuel consumption rose only two percent.
The challenge is however not a weight issue only – but also offers some headaches for the marketing departments of big automakers. They try to emphasize the benefits and importance of fuel economy as part of the brawny image of trucks but past advances in vehicle engineering, including the use of lighter materials, have proved hard to sell to buyers.
Environment, Green House Gases, CO2 Emissions and Car Insurance
Environmental protection agencies are putting pressure on all countries to reduce the emission of green house gases. The transportation industry is one of the larger sectors targeted. Vehicle emissions from congested roads are significant threats to the environment and adding to global warming.
Earlier this month it has been revealed that Beijing is limiting vehicle registrations of new vehicles.
The fuel consumption standards will not only reduce fuel consumption but will add to the measures aimed at reducing the emission of green house gases. Vehicle navigation and Pay As You Drive Car Insurance have also been identified as important mechanisms in the fight to protect the environment!!
As we enter the New Year we can expect to find an increased focus on reducing traffic, traffic congestion, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. This will not only require innovative engineering and manufacturing of vehicles – but will also inspire more innovative product design such as PAYD in the car insurance industry!!