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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.

The auto industry’s current materials portfolio will need to be augmented to meet new 2025 fuel economy standards, according to a WardsAuto and DuPont Automotive survey conducted in late July.

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.



RMI....Law Makers can promote changes with fiscal policies. They have done it (wrongly) to promote the sales of many millions heavy gas guzzlers for the past decades. It can also be done to promote the sales of more efficiency vehicles. Will they do it, even if lobbies do their best to stop it?


Why would $10 million yearly salary make the US President a more competent person? You think more competent people would run for election if he gets $10M?

You think competent people do NOT run because they wouldn't make enough money? Like Clinton? No?

Should the US President be appointed, like a CEO in big business?
Appointed by whom?

And who decides there is extra performance?
You? Sorry.

Would he be reworded/punished for every percentage change in unemployment, in economic growth, and in deficits/budget surpluses?
So you think Obama should be fined heavily and sent to prison?

Or he would not have met the original selection criteria?

Feebates, fleet procurement, and affordable government financing can drive this transition -
if you assume the govt can make fair, logical decisions.

It does not.

We must also apply integrative design for lightweighting our fleet of vehicles? BS.
The leaf, Prius, Volt designs are rational in their weight design. You think the knot heads on this site know more about affordable weight reduction than the world’s auto makers?

I assume you think affordable is a requirement. Likely a mistake on my part.

Roger Pham

Well, ToppaTom, when CEO's of big corporations are making over $10M yearly salary plus performance bonuses, that's where you'll find the most able-minded executives.

$400,000 yearly salary for US President is a big joke. Even a small business owner who employs less than 10 employees makes more than that. It means that US Presidents and Congressmen are made up of people who won't even qualify to run even a medium-sized company, let alone a country of 300 million people, yet they are very susceptible to bribery and donation from wealthy sponsors!
That's the sad state that we are in right now. If you are paying for the price of a Yugo or Tata car, don't expect Cadillac or Mercedes performance! Did Obama ever get any offer from Fortune 500 companies for CEO position? Nope!

Without performance bonuses, elected leaders are more likely to pocket money from hidden sponsors and then enact policies favorable to the whim of their sponsors instead of what benefited the nation. But with millions at stakes in terms of bonuses, then elected officials would less likely to listen to "wealthy" sponsors no matter how rich, because the officials are already paid plenty by the people, and hence more loyal to the "people" who give them a sumptous living!

Elected officials are chosen by the People, who then should pay them fair wages and bonuses comparable to leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies, if the People expect them to bring back profits and prosperity.

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