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Recreation Advocate

The OutdoorWire family websites feature news and information affecting outdoor recreation opportunities and access to public lands. 

Weight Reduction Critical to Meeting New CAFE Regs

Powertrain Advances and Weight Reduction Both Critical to Meeting New CAFE Regs, Aluminum Industry Says

WASHINGTON, March 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Obama administration announced new regulations for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) levels for passenger cars and light trucks, raising standards to 27.3 miles per gallon by 2011. The Aluminum Association supports these standards, believing the optimum solution for automakers to quickly engineer and build more fuel-efficient vehicles is to pursue a mix of technologies including powertrain advancements and lightweighting.

The following statement is from Buddy Stemple, chairman of The Aluminum Association's Auto & Light Truck Group:

"The Aluminum Association agrees with the Obama administration's regulations on CAFE. Greater use of aluminum to reduce carbon emissions while improving fuel economy must be part of the solution for the industry moving forward. Specific to this rule, we agree with the administration for continuing to support size-based standards for passenger cars. Size-based standards will allow automakers to build large vehicles that consumers demand with the fuel efficiency they expect and will positively impact future vehicle design and construction. Research proves that size - not weight - is a better determinant of vehicle safety.

"However, despite comments to the rule from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the aluminum industry recognizing the benefits of engine downsizing matched with weight reduction through material substitution, NHTSA chose not to consider their combined advantages. This is disappointing, since lightweighting with aluminum can further improve the efficiencies of alternative powertrain vehicles, such as hybrids and diesels. Aluminum can be a cost-effective complement to many of the technologies that will be relied upon to reach the new CAFE levels. Aluminum-intensive vehicles, when paired with alternative powertrains, can reduce the consumers' initial vehicle cost and pay them back faster than traditional heavier-bodied models.

"New data shows that automakers are increasingly turning to aluminum for solutions to help increase fuel efficiency and improve vehicle performance. Aluminum content has reached 8.6 percent of vehicle curb weight in 2009 - an all-time high - and is predicted to continue to grow, indicating that automakers recognize the additional safety and environmental benefits of lightweighting with aluminum. I have no doubt automakers will continue to expand their use of aluminum as they strive to reach new CAFE targets. We look forward to working with the OEMs as standards continue to rise in the future."

The Aluminum Association provided docketed comments and comprehensive safety and cost benefit research to NHTSA as part of their CAFE rulemaking.


SOURCE The Aluminum Association

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