Ambitious Mobile Air Conditioning Climate Protection Goal Announced

Warrendale PA, April 22, 2004 - Members of a partnership of industry, government, and environmental advocacy organizations announced today they are launching an ambitious collaborative effort to deliver dramatic increases in the energy efficiency and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the operation of motor vehicle air conditioning (A/C) systems. Final agreement was reached at their Mobile Air Conditioning Summit organized by the Mobile A/C Climate Protection Partnership on April 15, 2004.

The partnership goal is to reduce fuel consumption from the operation of vehicle A/C by at least 30 percent and refrigerant emissions by 50 percent. When all cars have this new technology, the improvements will save over 2.5 billion gallons of fuel in the United States alone and 3 to 5 billion gallons of fuel per year worldwide according to EPA. The cumulative reduction in fuel use and refrigerant emissions will avoid more than 35 billion kilograms of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists use the standard metric of "carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions" to compare the climate impact of greenhouse gases. This project will identify technologies with the potential to reduce by roughly one-half the carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions from the operation of air conditioning on new vehicles.

U.S. drivers could save $20 to $35 per year by using 11 to 20 gallons less fuel and can enjoy a one-time savings of at least $100 from increased reliability due to less frequent refrigerant recharge, according to analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The added cost of improved A/C is expected to cost the consumer less than $40, with average payback in two years and average savings of over $420 during the 16-year life of the vehicle. Increasing concern over climate protection is expected to encourage global adoption.

Air conditioning in vehicles has direct emissions of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants that are greenhouse gases and indirect tailpipe emissions from the additional fuel that is burned to power the cooling.

All vehicles currently use a refrigerant called HFC-134a, which is included in the gases scheduled for control under the Kyoto Protocol. European manufacturers and governments support new regulations that will phase out HFC-134a for vehicles after about 2012, but it is not yet clear whether replacement technology will better protect the climate. This project will improve the existing HFC-134a technology, raising the bar that competing technology will need to clear in order to capture markets in North America, Asia, and elsewhere.

"I am particularly proud of the support and contributions of the members of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to this project," said Ward Atkinson, Chair of the SAE Interior Climate Control Standards Committee. "Our cooperative research program documented the opportunity to increase fuel efficiency and cooling performance and our committees are at the forefront of global efforts to encourage new technology."

"The companies and technicians who are members of the Mobile Air Conditioning Society Worldwide (MACS) support this project because properly designed and maintained AC systems will allow our customers to get better fuel economy, provide better comfort, and be more reliable," said Elvis Hoffpauir, President and Chief Operating Officer of MACS. Our professional technicians have the skills and tools to properly maintain and service the systems."

"This improved air conditioning technology can be applied in the next decade to over 300 million vehicles worldwide while industry develops even better revolutionary technology for next-generation hybrids and fuel cell vehicles," said Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, project director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "The global vehicle industry and their customers will save $4 to 5 billion dollars if we can immediately improve HFC-134a systems to reliably reduce refrigerant emissions and use significantly less energy than the proposed alternative systems."

"The California Air Resources Board is grateful for the work of the members of SAE and the Mobile Air Conditioning Climate Protection Partnership who are working to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from vehicle air conditioning," said Richard Corey, Chief of the Research and Economic Studies Branch, California Air Resources Board. "The California legislature has directed ARB to craft new regulations that will reduce greenhouse gases from non-commercial vehicles in the most cost-effective ways possible. The partnership represents another important step at facilitating the identification and deployment of technologies to achieve this objective."

"General Motors prides itself on offering the latest technology to increase the safety, comfort, and environmental performance of personal transportation," said William Hill, GM A/C Integration Engineer. "New A/C technology can save money and protect the climate."

"Vehicle air conditioning suppliers are eager to support this initiative and will doubtless compete aggressively to improve the environmental performance of their systems," said James A. Baker, Senior Staff Scientist, Delphi Corporation. "It's good for business, the economy, our customers, and future generations. Everyone wins in the end."

"DuPont is participating as part of our corporate commitment to help our customers build sustainable businesses. This project will bring together the right experts with the right resources at the right time," said Martin Drigotas, DuPont Manager of Automotive Refrigerants. "We and our partners have the opportunity and the duty to make these systems the most energy efficient and leak resistant possible."

"The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) supports actions that can cut global warming pollution from millions of air-conditioned cars almost immediately," said David Doniger, Policy Director, NRDC Climate Center. "Improved vehicle air conditioning is a step toward personal transportation that is ecologically sustainable, comfortable, and affordable.

"This project combines the strategies of corporate leadership, engineering excellence and with persuasive regulatory incentives from California, the European Union and elsewhere," said Roland Hwang, Senior Policy Analyst for NRDC. "The public can expect extraordinary technical progress when everyone works for the same environmental goals."

SAE website: www.sae.org/ac
MACS website: www.macsw.org
EPA website: www.epa.gov/cppd
EPA hotline: 1(800) 296-1996