Environmental Issues Top Challenge for Automotive Industry

A survey shows that environmental issues top the list of challenges facing the automotive industry, outranking cost reduction for the first time in 14 years. The survey was conducted by DuPont and the Society of the Automotive Industry.

A total of 53 percent of the respondents said that a basket of environmental factors such as fuel economy, CAFÉ, and emissions or clean air regulations are the top challenges versus 32 percent who cited cost. The survey, released April 10, was conducted among automotive designers and engineers.

"While cost reduction remains very important, the automotive industry's emphasis is on the environment and the demands that it puts on innovation," said Chris Murphy, director -- Americas, for DuPont Automotive. "In the results, environmental considerations are driving system and vehicle design and development and are a differentiator in the consumer marketplace. Automotive designers and engineers are working with suppliers like DuPont to address these issues and to design and develop cost-effective, fuel-efficient vehicles with reduced environmental impact."

The annual survey was conducted by Consumer Insights, Inc. Key findings include:

• Fifty-four percent of respondents say that fuel-efficient vehicles with reduced environmental impact are important to consumers. Forty-one percent say enhanced safety and 37 percent say improved comfort and convenience are important to consumers.

• For the fifth consecutive year, alternatively powered vehicles are predicted to have the greatest impact on the industry. Sixty percent selected alternatively powered vehicles in 2008, while 15 percent selected safety features and 16 percent selected electrical/electronic advances.

• Fifty percent of respondents see diesel engine technology as a key focus to help achieve 2020 efficiency regulations (35-mpg in United States and sub-120g/km carbon dioxide in Europe), while 46 percent say hybrid-electric powertrains, and 42 percent say extensive use of lightweight materials.

• In 10 years, vehicles will run on bio-based diesel fuel (27 percent); petroleum-based diesel (20 percent), and E85 (20 percent). Only 18 percent predict gasoline will dominate.

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