The Challenges of Complying with CAFE Standards


Focus of Upcoming Advanced Lightweight Materials Summit

The Obama Administration’s 54.5 mpg CAFE stan­dards must be met by 2025, but time is tick­ing away… quickly. Twelve years has never felt shorter.

Weight reduc­tion is one of the most real­is­tic ways to reach this goal. Stud­ies sug­gest that a 10% decrease in vehi­cle weight results in a 6.6% increase in fuel effi­ciency. In fact, accord­ing to an ATG report, there is no sin­gle cost-effective tech­nol­ogy that can accom­plish 50+ MPG with­out sig­nif­i­cant weight reduction.

OEMs, Tier 1 sup­pli­ers, mate­r­ial sup­pli­ers, uni­ver­si­ties and research insti­tu­tions join forces at the Advanced Light­weight Mate­ri­als Sum­mit August 26–27 in Detroit to dis­cuss the lat­est light­weight mate­ri­als solu­tions. In the hyper-competitive auto­mo­tive indus­try, a pound saved is a dol­lar earned!

Sum­mit speak­ers will address the fol­low­ing ques­tion: What will be the biggest chal­lenge of com­ply­ing with CAFE standards?

Jon Riley, Vice Pres­i­dent Dig­i­tal Man­u­fac­tur­ing, National Cen­ter for Man­u­fac­tur­ing Sci­ences (NCMS) says: The biggest chal­lenge will be the con­sumer cul­tural shift the nec­es­sary tech­nolo­gies will impose. While there will always be that sub­set of the car-buying mar­ket that goes “Green” because it is the glob­ally con­scious thing to do, most will buck at the trade­offs imposed. A greater per­cent­age of every automaker’s fleet will be gas-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, nat­ural gas and hydrogen-fueled cars.

Fleets will change too: smaller cars made of more com­po­nents fab­ri­cated from these advanced (and more expen­sive) mate­ri­als will become the norm.

And peo­ple will have to get used to new styling dri­ven more by aero­dy­nam­ics than mar­ket research. Those things may or may not be read­ily embraced.

Paul Kra­jew­ski, Engi­neer­ing Group Man­ager and Tech Fel­low at GM, says: he biggest chal­lenge is the cost / value propo­si­tion to the cus­tomer. We have meth­ods to achieve the stan­dards, but they require adding cost to the cus­tomer. Deter­min­ing the low­est cost way of achiev­ing the tar­gets and pre­sent­ing as a valu­able option for the cus­tomer will be critical.

Nicholas Gia­naris, Com­pos­ite Vehi­cle Research Cen­ter, Michi­gan State Uni­ver­sity says:

The auto­mo­tive indus­try has responded to CAFE and increase fuel costs since the 1970’s by ini­tially learn­ing how to design vehi­cles that are aero­dy­nam­i­cally effi­cient, and this was and is the most dra­matic area for improve­ment of fuel effi­ciency of a vehicle.

At about the same time, pow­er­trains, with improve­ments through con­trol sys­tems and the use of hybrid and elec­tric propul­sion and energy recov­ery sys­tems, have allowed an equiv­a­lent engine dis­place­ment to be much more effi­cient than even a decade ago.

Aero­dy­nam­ics and pow­er­train tech­nolo­gies are now approach­ing sat­u­ra­tion, and mass reduc­tion of a vehi­cle is the last bas­tion for mak­ing dra­matic improve­ments in fuel effi­ciency. The imple­men­ta­tion of advanced steels and cast irons, wrought and cast alu­minum, cast mag­ne­sium, plas­tics, and com­pos­ite mate­ri­als sys­tems have cer­tainly helped with the light­weight­ing efforts though fea­ture con­tent and fuel sources tend to add the mass back to the vehicle.

This is cer­tainly a chal­lenge, and another chal­lenge will be the car­bon foot­print equiv­a­lent of any mate­r­ial sys­tem used for light­weight­ing. And lastly, assem­bling parts and vehi­cle sub­sys­tems made of these var­i­ous mate­ri­als rep­re­sents another major chal­lenge on the path to meet­ing aggres­sive CAFE standards.

Please be sure to visit the web­site for more infor­ma­tion on the 6th Annual Advance Light­weight Mate­r­ial for Auto­mo­tive Sum­mit.