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Americans are becoming increasingly conscious of efficiency in the cars we drive, and one of the most effective ways to improve vehicle efficiency is through “lightweighting” – reducing the weight of a car so that it can run farther on less fuel.
Decreasing a vehicle’s weight by just 10 percent can improve a car’s fuel efficiency by 6-8 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
A recent article in The New York Times focused on the push for lightweighting vehicles coming from both the industry and the federal government. In fact, the light vehicle industry has become a critical part of our nation’s economy, totaling more than $142 billion, according to an ACC study.
In an interview with E&E reporter Julia Pyper, Energy Secretary Chu noted the opportunity we have before us:
[quote]With strong, lightweight materials, we have an opportunity to dramatically increase vehicle fuel economy while helping America maintain its competitive edge in automotive design and manufacturing.[/quote]
Many automakers are turning to carbon fiber and plastic composites – both ultra-light and durable – as key materials to reduce weight in vehicles.
Take the Smart Forvision concept car, a joint project by Daimler and ACC member BASF. The Forvision includes a variety of energy-saving features, such as wheels and doors made from fiber-reinforced plastic, which make the car lighter and more fuel-efficient.
From the front bumper to the rear taillights, virtually every component of a lightweight vehicle can be traced backed to chemistry! Altogether, chemistry products are revolutionizing the auto industry, helping the U.S. save enough energy to power 135 million cars annually.
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