Three decades ago, the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration set fuel standards designed to improve fuel economy, reduce carbon emissions, and minimize the impact that automobiles have on the environment. As a result of this, vehicles created within the past 30 years have been designed to have a higher fuel economy than their predecessors. Gone are the days when vehicles would get only 18 miles per gallon. Now, on average, automobiles achieve 29 miles per gallon, and pickup trucks have an average of 24 miles per gallon. The US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has the goal of all vehicles having a minimum of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025.
In order to meet the standards, automobile manufacturers have taken steps to improve their vehicle’s efficiency. One step has been lightening the vehicle. Vehicle lightweighting can be attained by changing traditional steel chassis for aluminum body structures. There are many companies, such as GREDE for example, that are leading the way when it comes to creating lighter weight vehicles.
There are challenges that are associated with creating lighter weight vehicles. One challenge is building a structure that will have the same strength and that will provide the same level of crash protection. Another challenge is designing parts that will stand up to the rigors of road travel. However, car manufacturers are constantly creating new technologies that are successfully meeting these challenges. The goal is to get more mileage out of traditional internal combustion engines while not compromising performance and safety.