New Fuel Standards Likely to Cut Steel Use in Automobiles
The energy bill President Bush signed last week mandating tougher fuel-economy standards eventually could boost use of aluminum, carbon fiber and other lightweight materials while steel will shrink, according to an Associated Press analysis. The new law says the auto industry must raise its fleet-wide fuel-economy average 40% in the U.S., to 35 miles per gallon, by 2020. Increased mileage requirements could begin as early as 2011. But the cost of car using new materials could rise significantly.
Today, steel accounts for about 60% of an average vehicle's weight in the U.S. of about 4,100 pounds. Analysts believe the auto industry will continue its historic method of reducing weight by using less steel and more aluminum and plastics.
Also, in order to fully achieve the energy bill's fuel-economy goals, automakers are looking at enhanced engine and transmission efficiency — which already can be found in gas-electric hybrid vehicles — reduced tire resistance and improved aerodynamics, Alan Taub, executive director of research and development at General Motors in Detroit tells the news service.
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