The climate conference held in Paris last December marked a milestone event in world history as it witnessed an agreement signed by 195 countries to help regulate the global climate. This was the first such legally binding, universal climate deal. What does this deal mean for the automotive industry? There was a time when using a car was all about burning rubber and enhancing performance. The realization however that limited natural resources do not last for ever, especially in the case of fossil fuels and the impact of toxic emissions on global warming and the environment as a whole has led the automotive industry to rethink its strategy. Now ecofriendly vehicles like the Toyota Prius and electric cars get a great deal of attention and so do tires with lower rolling resistance and automotive exhaust systems which can lower the levels of carbon dioxide emissions.
The CEOs of many companies belonging to the global light and heavy duty automotive industry made a public declaration highlighting their commitment to sustainable mobility by decarbonizing automotive transport. These CEOs helmed 13 different companies drawn from all over the globe, including countries like the United States, Japan, India, China, Sweden, Italy, France and Germany. The fact that industry leaders from these disparate countries came together to make such a commitment points to the growing concern about the global climate and the need for solutions on a global scale rather than at the local level.
Each company made its very own commitment to help decrease their carbon footprint. For Johnson Controls, this meant more research and development to come up with advanced battery technology for powering electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles and start-stop engines. The company’s Start-Stop battery technology is now used in 20 million vehicles worldwide, thus helping to save an estimated 381 million gallons of fuel, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 3.4 million metric tons per year.
Another innovative feature companies have used is increasing use of light weight components like carbon fiber components, aluminum components and interiors. Many companies have even looked into the use of graphene panels to reduce vehicle weight and thus increase fuel efficiency.
Tire manufacturers have looked into techniques like a higher level of recycling of used tires, making tires with lower rolling resistance to increase fuel efficiency, sourcing rubber from plants like dandelion to decrease their carbon footprint and making tires that can be retreaded so that tire life is longer.
A lot more progress needs to be made if meaningful reductions are to be achieved when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions and alternatives to fossil fuels. It is important for governments, automotive companies, aftermarket companies and even customers to work together to make global climate control a part of our daily lives.
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