Plastics producers ready to help automakers meet mileage and emissions goals

The American Chemistry Council submitted written comments on a federal proposal to increase fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in passenger automobiles and light trucks.


The American Chemistry Council (ACC) today submitted written comments on a federal proposal to increase fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in passenger automobiles and light trucks. The federal rulemaking is a joint effort of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and will increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE standards.

ACC’s comments note that lighter weight materials, such as plastics and plastics composites, can help automakers reach CAFE targets, since less energy is required to power a lighter vehicle.

“Innovative plastics and composites have enabled the auto industry to answer the call for lighter, higher-performing vehicles for several decades now,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council. “Today plastics-enabled enhancements can be found across the entire vehicle.”

These comments follow public testimony presented in January by ACC and member companies Bayer MaterialScience LLC (Bayer) and SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business (SABIC) at a hearing in Detroit held by the EPA and NHTSA.

ACC and its members also are urging the agencies to clarify that the off-cycle technology credits recognize the full thermal control benefits of polycarbonate and other advanced glazing materials used in automotive windows. Compared with glass, polycarbonate glazing better insulates the cabin during operation of the vehicle, reducing both the demand for air conditioning and the associated tailpipe emissions. However, standard test drive “cycles” used to measure mileage and emissions are not designed to capture this benefit. In similar cases, the agencies have proposed a compliance credit toward emission targets designed to recognize “off- cycle” benefits.

“We applaud the agencies for proposing an off-cycle credit that recognizes the thermal control benefits of glazing,” said Greg Adams, vice president, automotive and polycarbonate, SABIC. “We believe such a credit also should apply to market-ready advanced polycarbonate glazing solutions with superior insulation properties.”

“Recognizing the benefits of polycarbonate glazing through expanded technology credits would provide OEMs with greater flexibility in meeting proposed mileage and emission targets,” agreed Bruce Benda, vice president, automotive and transportation, Bayer.

The thermal control and insulation benefits of polycarbonate glazing are in addition to the well-established benefits of weight reduction and improved aerodynamic performance. All of these elements contribute to improved fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Plastics and plastics composites play a key role in helping to make vehicles lighter and more fuel efficient while enhancing safety. Such materials have enabled some of the most significant vehicle safety innovations of the past decades, such as advanced seatbelts, air bags, and structural enhancements. And the plastics industry continues to develop predictive engineering tools for OEM designers and engineers. The amount of plastics and composites used in vehicles increased 25 percent between MY1995 and 2007 and continues to climb. The source of these improvements – innovations in plastics – still holds untapped potential to further enhance vehicle safety and efficiency.

For more about plastics innovations in vehicles, visit http://www.plastics-car.com/.

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