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The current U.S. administration has plans to roll back increased vehicle standards and mileage rules set in place by the previous administration, but will it have much impact?

Observers think any effects of the changes, if realized, may be diminished. That’s because vehicle makers have already invested billions of dollars into upcoming models that were designed with stricter fuel standards in mind; and fuel-efficiency regulations are in place in major markets worldwide. Additionally, California and other states coordinate their own regulations with CAFE, and automakers would rather not produce higher-mileage vehicles just for those smaller markets.

auto production

The U.S.’s CAFE program was established in 1975 to reduce energy consumption by increasing fuel economy in cars and light trucks. It was Washington’s response to the 1973-74 OPEC oil embargo, when Americans waited in long lines for gas, turned down their home thermostats and put on sweaters. CAFE’s initial objective was to improve the nation’s energy security, save consumers money at the pump as gas prices soared, and prompt manufacturing innovation.

Forty-one years later, in 2016, the federal government added fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles designed to ratchet up over time. However, the new proposal would freeze the standards at their 2020 levels for six years. And STANLEY® is already doing its part to help auto manufacturers reach their lower emission goals. Its most recent efforts led to a new way to make plastic parts even lighter than they already were.

The wire harness clip is just as strong, but 28% lighter and cheaper than a completely solid plastic part. —Rupert BeckerDirector of Global Product Line Management
STANLEY® Engineered Fastening

Last year, STANLEY® engineers started using an additive during the injection molding process that consistently and predictably adds tiny air bubbles to plastic parts. As a result, the first part in production — a clip used in a Volkswagen vehicle’s wire harness — is just as strong but 28 percent lighter and cheaper than an additive-free, completely solid plastic part. In addition to the cost savings associated with using less raw material for each clip, the cycle time to produce the part is shorter.

“It’s not really porous, but something similar to it,” says Rupert Becker, director of global product line management for STANLEY® Engineered Fastening. “We have done extensive testing with the part and it works perfectly.”

two men working on auto production line

The weight and economic factors associated with modifying the injection molding process may seem tiny in one small plastic clip, but keep in mind there are close to 1,000 fasteners on just one average car. Multiply that by the number of cars produced each year, and you get the picture.

The lighter clip is just one of the kinds of contributions suppliers such as STANLEY® Engineered Fastening can make to OEMs who are pressured to remove weight for every vehicle to achieve greater fuel efficiencies. Even if the government isn’t mandating it.

Take a closer look at Vehicle Lightweighting Trends

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