Advanced insulation packages, solar reflective film, and other thermal-management technologies enable heavy vehicles to reduce idle climate control loads, as demonstrated by NREL's CoolCab project in collaboration with industry OEMs and suppliers.
Air-conditioning is essential for comfort and safety (defrost), but it uses fuel that could move the car, so it also is a target for improving vehicle fuel economy. New EPA test will give it the chance of proving it has developed fuel-sipping ways.
The lab runs fuel-economy tests with A/C on maximum vs. A/C "comfort level," A/C-off and with windows open and closed. Some results are surprising, including an unexpected "crossover" point in testing on a Toyota Corolla.
"Softex," a new Toyota artificial leather, has both good breathability and reflects infrared rays, so it has significant cooling properties. First applications are on Prius V, where it also is used for the steering wheel instead of a natural leather wrap, and new RAV-4.