The automotive industry has seen significant improvements in vehicle efficiency in recent years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual report.
Fuel economy values increased by 16 percent while carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions decreased by 13 percent between 2007 and 2012. There was an estimated increase of 1.4 miles per gallon for cars and trucks in 2012 alone, the EPA noted.
EPA attributed the improvements to the rapid adoption of more efficient technologies and higher fuel economy choices, among other things.
Compared with five years ago, the EPA noted, consumers have twice as many hybrid and diesel options, more electric vehicle options, and “a six-fold increase in the number of car models with combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or higher.”
Chemistry propelling automotive fuel efficiency
Advancements in automotive efficiency would not be possible without chemistry — particularly automotive plastics.
For example, LANXESS plastics replace some metal automotive components that reduce the weight of cars by up to 30 percent, while its synthetic rubber tires can reduce fuel consumption by 5 to 7 percent.
BASF helped Daimler design the fuel-efficient smart forvision, which includes innovations like the first all-plastic wheel rim suitable for series production.
ExxonMobil produces high-performance elastomers that increase vehicle efficiency through weight reduction.
And a breakthrough process by Celanese enables the production of high-quality, low-cost ethanol for liquid transportation fuel.
Other chemistry innovations that improve vehicle efficiency include lithium-ion batteries in hybrid and electric cars; synthetic oils that enable car engines to achieve greater efficiency; and lubricants that reduce friction and energy usage.
Most drivers won’t be thinking about chemistry when they are heading down the road, but chemistry will be riding along with them, helping to keep their families safe while improving the energy efficiency of their vehicles.