Faced with daunting MPG standards, automakers seek "cure" for vehicle weight

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Stringent fuel economy guidelines unveiled by the Obama administration in late July will force the automotive industry to explore cost-effective lightweight materials for use in future vehicles, according to some industry analysts.

Automakers will turn to high-strength steel, aluminum, magnesium and even low-grade carbon fiber to reduce vehicle weight or, as Automotive News says, to "cure" excess poundage. However, with consumers unwilling to pay a premium for lightweight vehicles, industry analysts say that the key to lightweighting is the development of low-cost materials.

Analysts say that carbon fiber and silicon are ideal for shedding weight, but, of course, such materials are simply too costly to be used extensively in vehicles. Joerg Pohlman, managing director of SGL Automotive, says that by switching to low-grade components, the cost of some exotic materials can be slashed in half. As long as they work and make our cars lighter, we don't much care what's inside.

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