New EPA and NHTSA Regulations Boast Aluminum as #1 Material to Boost Fuel Economy, Cut Emissions

2015-06-18T15:33:41+00:00August 18th, 2011|

Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced new commercial vehicle fuel economy regulations aimed to safely reduce vehicle weight, boost fuel economy and cut emissions. Automotive engine and truck manufacturers and environmental groups have embraced the new regulations and also support the use of aluminum over all other materials.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) require improvements to trucks and buses manufactured between 2014 and 2018 in an effort to reduce America’s oil consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Commercial vehicle improvements are projected to lower the nation’s oil consumption by an estimated 530 million barrels per year and lower greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 270 million metric tons per year. Aluminum, due to its lighter weight, is the material of choice for the EPA/NHTSA improvements.

As the industry transitions away from traditional, heavier steel, the EPA and NHTSA tested and rated the greatest mass reduction opportunities between aluminum, high-strength steel and composites. The U.S. Department of Energy contributed to research as well and ranked aluminum as the material offering the greatest benefits:

“DOE reviewed prospective lightweighting alternative materials and found that aluminum has a potential to reduce mass by 40 to 60 percent…[and] identified opportunities to reduce mass by 10 percent through high strength steel.”

However, the DOE does not believe plastics and composites “have advanced far enough to quantify the benefits of these materials…”

What exactly do the new government regulations regarding commercial vehicle improvements mean?

Currently, the average Class 8 commercial truck uses over 1,000 pounds of aluminum, composing roughly 4 percent of total truck weight. The new rule aims to trim 400 additional pounds from the total truck weight with 29 specific weight reduction opportunities identified by the EPA and NHTSA.

The conclusions of the EPA, NHTSA and DOE are facts those in the aluminum industry are familiar with; aluminum is the superior choice for weight reduction opportunities.

For more information on new regulations from the EPA and NHTSA, read the original Aluminum in Transportation article here: