Automotive Weight Reduction and Size-Based Standards Vital to Improving Fuel Economy and Emissions, Aluminum Industry Tells NHTSA

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The Aluminum Association's Auto and Light Truck Group issued the following statement today in response to the Association's comment submissions for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Notice of Proposed Rule Making for Passenger Car and Light Truck Corporate Average Fuel Economy. These comments are not directed at what the specific CAFE levels should be; but rather at the relationship between size, weight, fuel consumption, emissions, safety and cost.

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We hope NHTSA's final rule will reflect the need to match powertrain improvements with weight reduction to help create next generation autos that are even more efficient and produce fewer emissions, while also being both safe and affordable.

Buddy Stemple, Chair of the Aluminum Association's Auto and Light Truck Group, issued the following statement today in response to the Association's comment submissions for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Notice of Proposed Rule Making for Passenger Car and Light Truck Corporate Average Fuel Economy. These comments are not directed at what the specific CAFE levels should be; but rather at the relationship between size, weight, fuel consumption, emissions, safety and cost.

"The aluminum industry understands that consumers want and deserve vehicles that are affordable, safe and fuel-efficient. We also know that automobile manufacturers want to produce them. Aluminum, along with other advances automakers are pursuing, can help put such vehicles in the marketplace. We believe NHTSA's draft rule falls short by relying almost entirely on improvements to engines and transmissions. This limited approach undervalues the direct benefits of weight reduction and the potential of improvements in vehicle structural design as the foundation for other fuel saving technologies.

"The aluminum industry believes that public policy decisions, including regulatory mandates, must be based on the most current and accurate scientific and engineering data available. New research that we have provided to NHTSA demonstrates that making hybrids and diesel cars and trucks lighter - without making them smaller - can reduce the consumers' initial vehicle cost and pay them back faster than traditional heavier-bodied models.    

"Due to available data and on-the-road examples of lighter, yet larger and safer vehicles, we also strongly support a size-based passenger car and light truck standard. Vehicle size, not vehicle weight, is a better safety determinant and such a size-based rule will encourage the development and availability of lower weight materials whose use might advance fuel economy and preserve or even enhance safety.

"Finally, there are also significant environmental benefits to down-weighting with aluminum because lighter vehicles burn less fuel and produce fewer tailpipe emissions. For each pound of aluminum which replaces two pounds of conventional iron or steel, a net 20 pounds of CO2 equivalents can be saved over the typical lifetime of a vehicle. In addition, most automotive aluminum is recycled, which saves 95 percent of the energy needed to produce the material and avoids 95 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with primary aluminum production.

"We hope NHTSA's final rule will reflect the need to match powertrain improvements with weight reduction to help create next generation autos that are even more efficient and produce fewer emissions, while also being both safe and affordable."

The Aluminum Association's Auto & Light Truck Group (ALTG) communicates the benefits of automotive aluminum to help accelerate its penetration through research programs and related outreach activities. Its mission is to serve member companies and act as a central resource for the automotive industry on aluminum issues. Member companies include: Alcoa Inc., Novelis Inc., Alcan Inc, Aleris International Inc., Aluminum Precision Products Inc., Indalex Aluminum Solutions, Kaiser Aluminum Corporation and Sapa Group.

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