Auto industry survey finds need for materials innovation to meet 2025 CAFE; greatest change seen in powertrain systems
|49% of respondents thought that powertrains would see the greatest percentage of material changes as a result of proposed 2025 CAFE standards. Click to enlarge.|
Only 5% of the vehicle design and engineers polled said they are “very confident” that currently available materials will help them meet proposed CAFE standards. Nearly half the respondents say the greatest change in materials will be in powertrain systems, noting that advanced propulsion systems—from downsized engines to hybrid and electric vehicle systems and batteries—will drive new material requirements.
Respondents identified the need for higher strength, lighter metals including aluminum, magnesium; more cost-effective advanced composites for structural components that can significantly reduce weight and high-heat resistant, lightweight materials to withstand higher combustion pressures and temperatures.
77% agreed that the proposed CAFE standard would “fundamentally change how vehicles are manufactured in the US”, with 52% agreeing that the proposed target would require most vehicles to use hybrid-electric or electric powertrains. Only 24% agreed that the 2025 CAFE target could be reached used currently available technologies, and only 25% agreed that the CAFE target would not jeopardize the safety of future vehicles.
Only 8% agreed that environmental groups fully understand the technologies and engineering tradeoffs required to meet CAFE targets of 50 mpg or higher, with the same percentage agreeing that environmental groups lobbying for higher CAFE consider current and future National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety rules when they evaluate the cost and achievability of future fuel economy targets.
Eight in ten respondents indicated that cost was one of their top two criteria when deciding whether to adopt a new technology that impacts production and manufacturing. The next highest response was 42% for consumer acceptance.
While 44% of the respondents indicated that the government has the greatest amount of influence on powertrain policy, the same percentage indicated that it should be consumers who have the greatest amount of influence.
More than 1,000 subscribers to WardsAuto responded to the survey designed to identify challenges and trade-offs associated with meeting 2025 CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards. Results of the survey, commissioned by DuPont and performed by Paramount Research, Coralville, Iowa, were released during the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminar this week in Traverse City, Michigan.
The WardsAuto, DuPont survey was conducted just before the Obama administration’s originally proposed 2025 fleet average of 56.2 mpg (4.1 L/100 km) was negotiated to 54.5 mpg (4.3 L/100 km).
Clearly CAFE regulations have confronted the industry, but they’ve also driven focus around technology needs, material demands and cost issues. While the CAFE standard is a little lower than proposed, it’s significantly higher than where we are today. Advanced materials, alternative propulsion systems and new technologies must be developed quickly and cost effectively.
This is a defining moment—not just for materials, but for the industry. And it’s one that breaks the silos of the value chain and is inclusive of the global marketplace.—David Glasscock, DuPont global automotive technology director
In addition to materials challenges, the WardsAuto and DuPont survey explores how new CAFE standards will impact vehicle manufacturing and offers a ranking of the top challenges consuming industry resources.