Should reflective paint earn automakers EPA credits?

No matter where you look around the world, governments are cracking down on vehicle emissions and aiming for higher fuel economy standards. Generally, automakers are pushing back against the increased regulation, and in the US, General Motors, Ford, and FCA US are looking for new compromises. The Big Three want to the EPA to grant them retroactive emissions credits for using tech that they claim reduces CO2 but not on the government agency's on-road testing.

Among these technologies are things like reflective paint and glass, LED lights, ventilated seats, stop/start, and more efficient air conditioning compressors. Starting with the 2014 model year, the automakers can receive credits for a few grams per mile reductions on models with some of these solutions, according to Automotive News. However, the companies are also petitioning the EPA to make the credits apply to earlier vehicles with them, as well.

The emissions advantages for systems like stop/start and less polluting AC refrigerants seem fairly obvious. For reflective paint and glass, the belief is that keeping a vehicle interior cooler should mean a lower need for air conditioning and therefore a decrease in CO2. Margo Oge, the former boss of the EPA's Office of Transportation Air Quality, told Automotive News these credits are part of the plan. "That's the whole point of what we tried to establish," she said. "We wanted companies to invest in and develop these technologies."

The EPA wants vehicle emissions at the corporate average equivalent of 54.4 miles per gallon fuel economy by 2025, and so far that seems achievable. It will translate to less than 40 mpg on the EPA sticker. In a report last summer, the industry was about 10 grams per mile of CO2 better than the rules required, and that was solely based on 2012 model year vehicles. In an update for 2013, the companies were up to 12 grams per mile beyond targets.

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