US: research shows automakers using engines and material advances to reach CAFE goal image

The yearly Wards Auto survey of engineers, which targets both automakers and suppliers, shows the increased use of lightweight materials – aluminum for example – corroborated with more efficient engines.

These two advances top the list of planning across the automotive industry when it comes to the spreadsheet to be used to meet the upcoming 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE standard of 54.5 mpg. The study, under the patronage of DuPont Automotive, also highlights how the companies – both carmakers and their suppliers – are researching a wide range of technologies to accomplish their advancements, with the mid-term review of the governmental standard also drawing near. Across the survey taken this year, diesel engines, fuel cells and even bio-fuels have all become more interesting – though transmission technologies and electrification are actually the second tier when it comes to actual planning. The study focused on around 900 industry insiders across the automotive design and engineering community.

“Lightweighting is a universal approach because it can be applied to every system and every component and it amplifies the impact of the other strategies,” commented Jeff Sternberg, technology director for DuPont Automotive. “(Electrification) is fast becoming another universal strategy. Light electrification, such as stop start, regenerative braking system and transmission and engine controls are expanding across the light vehicle fleet,” he went on to describe the annual trends. Through 2017, the mid-term review of the 2025 CAFE standards will come with possibly tougher standards even as slower sales of fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles are expected to have a major impact on the automotive programs.