TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. — With the upcoming mid-term review of the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, the auto industry is placing more emphasis on a range of lightweighting and engine efficiency technologies, while displaying tepid confidence in today's material portfolio, according to a DuPont Co. and WardsAuto's annual survey of automotive design and engineering industry.
The survey was released at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.
Fifty-six percent of the survey's nearly 900 respondents indicated they were moderately confident today's materials portfolio will help the automotive industry met 2025 CAFE standards.
Aluminum remains the top pick for lightweighting, followed by multi-material solutions, according to survey results. Advanced composites trailed with only 9 percent of respondents indicating a heavy reliance on those materials.
Cost of implementation remains a concern, said Jeff Sternberg, technology director of DuPont Automotive.
“One of the comments we've seen this year, as well as last year, is the belief that the material set that exists has the performance attributes that are needed, the real challenge is getting the cost down to the point where they can be incorporated by the OEMs to make them more relevant,” he said in an interview during the conference. “So it's less around new materials development and more around cost reduction.”
Also evident this year is a growing emphasis on electrification, and a stronger overall interest in technologies to help meet emissions standards, with lightweighting remaining the most popular solution.
“If you look at the various technologies that the industry is pursuing to meet the future standards, the order stayed about the same — lightweighting is clearly leading — but if you go through the long list of strategies that are being pursued, each one of them seemed to get higher scores in terms of: ‘Is your company pursuing this,'” Sternberg said. “So that suggests that as the deadlines, as the challenge gets greater, the industry is dedicating more and more effort to various approaches to meeting these regulations,” including a growing emphasis on electrification.
DuPont, for its part, is seeing more engagement from automakers on lightweighting, with more diversity in projects brought to the company and discussions starting earlier in a product's development.
“With some of our customers we're getting engaged a little bit earlier than in the past. It's less around ‘Here's a part made of metal, can you make the exact same thing in plastic?' and more of a holistic discussion early on around how can we design this system better,” Sternberg said.
The survey was conducted by Penton Market Research in Overland Park, Kan.