DuPont Automotive, WardsAuto Survey: How Automotive Engineers Plan to Meet Looming CAFE Standards 


‘We are two vehicle model cycles from 2025’

TROY, Mich., Aug. 5, 2015 – While lightweighting and engine efficiency again top the list of strategies the auto industry is using to meet 2025 CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, the annual WardsAuto survey, sponsored by DuPont Automotive, shows all technologies are getting more emphasis as the mid-term review deadline looms.  Transmission technologies, new to this year’s survey, and electrification form the second tier of strategies, according to the nearly 900 respondents in the automotive design and engineering community (see chart).

Auto Industry Favors Aluminum, Multi Material Solutions

Mid Term Reviews Could Strengthen Emissions Standards

Industry Tepid on Materials

Lightweighting is a universal approach because it can be applied to every system and every component and it amplifies the impact of the other strategies,” said Jeff Sternberg, technology director, DuPont Automotive.  “Electrification, which saw one of the largest increases in mentions this year, is fast becoming another universal strategy.  Light electrification, such as start/stop, regenerative braking systems and transmission and engine controls, is expanding across the light vehicle fleet.”

CAFE Outlook

        With the mid-term review of the 2025 CAFE standards scheduled through 2017, 86 percent of the respondents say they expect the standards to strengthen or remain the same.  At the same time, the majority of respondents, 87 percent, say low gas prices in combination with low sales of fuel efficient, low emission vehicles will impact programs to meet CAFE regulations.

        “The survey responses might suggest that the industry is backing off technologies that lower emissions and improve fuel economy,” said Sternberg, “but it’s important to remember the global automotive industry has to navigate emissions regulations throughout the world, so we still need to run full-steam ahead.  That said, the current market dynamic is certain to spark some lively debate during the mid-term reviews.”

        The light-duty vehicle CAFE and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions rate standards require, on an average industry fleet-wide basis, 163 g/mile of CO2 in model year 2025, which would be equivalent to 54.5 mpg (4.3 L/100km) if this level were achieved solely through improvements in fuel efficiency.   The mid-term review by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2016-2017 was designed to determine technology readiness and ability to implement at acceptable cost.  A final decision is due April 2018.

Materials Matter

        Survey respondents again this year point to aluminum and multi-material solutions as the materials that can best help them meet CAFE standards.  Engineering plastics and advanced high-strength steel comprise the second tier. Respondents continued to express “moderate confidence” that today’s materials are sufficient to meet the future standards.

        “We are pretty bullish on the impact that materials can have on lightweighting,” said Sternberg, “and new solutions continue to be introduced. But materials alone are not enough when it comes to reducing vehicle weight in the 10 – 15 percent range.  Those big opportunities require fundamental changes in design, manufacturing and assembly as well.  These more ‘disruptive technology’ developments are taking longer, but the work is moving forward.  High volume adoption by 2025 may be optimistic for some of them, as we are just a little more than two vehicle model cycles away, but I am confident we will see an impact.”

        Now in its fifth year, the DuPont-sponsored survey with WardsAuto was conducted by Penton Market Research, Overland Park, Kan.  The nearly 900 respondents work for system, component or parts manufacturers, automakers, engine or engine-service companies or in automotive-related industries.  Most represent engineering, design, manufacturing, marketing, sales and corporate management.

        DuPont offers more than 100 materials and product families for the global automotive industry. Through its global application development network, DuPont Automotive is committed to collaborating with customers throughout the value chain to develop new products, materials, components and systems that help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and protect people and the environment. For more information, visit   

        DuPont (NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials, and services since 1802.  The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment.  For additional information about DuPont and its commitment to inclusive innovation, please visit