Fuel consumption has always been a major economic factor in the transportation business, but with the EPA changing the guidelines and rules, what exactly does that mean for the ‘average joe’? The way to better fuel economy is a lighter vehicle. The lighter the vehicle, the better the fuel economy (or miles per gallon is layman speak). For transportation, including heavy-duty trucks and even for the consumer driven market, that means changing how vehicles are made.
How does an industry reduce the weight of a vehicle without reducing its capacity to perform? Changing materials to aluminum is the current ‘go-to’ answer. According to The Aluminum Association, “The weight and emission benefits that result from using aluminum in heavy-duty trucks are significant. Research conducted by Ricardo Consulting Engineers has shown that an “aluminum-intensive” Class 8 commercial tractor trailer can reduce vehicle weight by 3,300 pounds. For every 10 percent of weight reduction, up to a 5.5 percent improvement in fuel economy is possible. The study also found that substituting the nation’s fleet of Class 8 tractor-trailers with aluminum-intensive models would save 9.3 million tons of CO2 annually.”
On the consumer side, aluminum will play a fast and furious role into developing the next generation of vehicles. Automakers are thinking about mobility, effectiveness, strength, and meeting EPA emissions standards which means reaching into the current and available technologies like aluminum to develop automotive frames.
Taber is well known in the industry for its aluminum extrusions, already having earned Boeing’s Gold Supplier rating. Taber’s aluminum extrusion process is easy to machine and cast and has one third the density of steel, proving that they can significantly reduce the weight of commercial and consumer vehicles without reducing performance, which is exactly with the industry needs to meet the goals that the EPA has demanded.