AUTOMOTIVE MATERIALS DECISION: ENERGY, ECONOMICS AND OTHER ISSUES 820149
Cars making intensive use of weight saving materials offer significant savings in weight, fuel, and life cycle energy with savings increasing in this order: high strength steel, plastics and aluminum. Driver on-road experience and EPA fuel economy ratings are both considered in the comparisons.
The value of lifetime fuel savings far outweigh material premiums in each case. The cost effectiveness of material options is shown to compete strongly with that of non-material options. Intense use of aluminum in vehicles along with the most effective mechanical and aero drag improvements could avoid the need to downsize cars and trucks beyond the limits of comfort, utility, and safety in achieving very high fuel economies.