The automotive industry will soon face one of the most difficult tasks it has seen in decades. Recently the Obama administration made new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) numbers official and the new miles per gallon targets are higher than anticipated. As AutoBlogGreen reports, by 2016, automakers will have to meet a CAFE number of nearly 35 miles per gallon. What does this mean? If you take the average fuel economy numbers for every vehicle that an automakers sell and average them all together, the result must come in at 35 miles per gallon. Yes, that number is incredibly high and much higher than what automakers achieve today so the task ahead will be extremely difficult and time is very short.
Automakers are now racing to meet the new guidelines and AutoBlogGreen reports that many of the traditional approaches for increasing fuel economy just won’t get the job done anymore. Automakers can’t simply rely on more efficient engines. They can’t only focus on downsizing powerplants or making vehicles more aerodynamic. Other measures must be taken and some are quite simple while other are very complex. Here’s some of the options automakers are considering in order to meet new CAFE guidelines.
Reducing weight. This simplistic idea is one of the most likely methods to be used to meet new mileage guidelines. Though it does sound simple, removing weight is very difficult. Vehicles in the United States have to meet very strict safety standards which add a considerable amount of weight to each vehicle so reducing weight cannot make a vehicle fail to meet standards. Weight reduction will likely come from utilizing more lightweight materials like aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber.
Low-rolling resistance tires. Tires have a significant impact on the gas mileage of every vehicles. Tires designed to increase gas mileage have been shown to have a big overall improvement on fuel consumption. Many tire manufacturers claim improvements of 5 percent or more through the use of low-rolling resistance tires. The manufacturers focus on aspects of the tire that make it move over the road with less resistance than traditional tires which leads to improved fuel economy.
While these two methods alone won’t be enough to reach the lofty goals of 35 miles per gallon by 2016, they are a step in the right direction. When combined with more efficient engines and a focus on aerodynamics, weight reduction and the use of low-rolling resistance tires will help manufacturers meet the fuel economy goals of the future.