The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), established a goal that model year 2025 vehicles will attain an average of around 50 miles per gallon (mpg). This is an approximate 40% increase in fuel efficiency over current levels. Auto manufacturers are keenly focused on creating lighter vehicles to meet this standard. In response to this need for lighter yet durable parts, the polyurethane industry is responding with new ways to incorporate polyurethane into different vehicle components.
Polyurethane has long been a staple for seating foam. Polyurethane foam offers high performance over a wide range of firmness while adding only nominal weight to the car overall. The foam holds its shape over long periods of time and heavy use. In addition to the seats, foam is also widely used in headrests, arm rests, headliners, and even instrument panels.
Both auto manufacturers and polyurethane producers are looking beyond the seats and soft surfaces to other applications of polyurethane-enabled lightweight materials in the automotive industry.