Review of Technical Literature and Trends Related to Automobile Mass-Reduction Technology
Reducing the size, or mass, of automobiles is an important technology objective for fuel economy, carbon dioxide emissions, and vehicle performance. The authors review ongoing automotive trends for vehicle mass optimization to better characterize where automobile size is headed. They find that automakers are using a variety of advanced materials in new vehicle models such as aluminum, magnesium and plastic. Several studies, along with automakers’ announcements, suggest mass-reduction technology could achieve up to a 20 percent decrease in the mass of new vehicles in the 2015-1010 timeframe. Greater potential for future CO2 emission reductions, however, requires commercialization of more advanced mass-optimization technologies that go beyond near-term incremental approaches, and could yield mass reductions of 30 percent or greater. The authors suggest that commitments by automakers to deploy mass-reduction technology offer several policy implications.