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Automotive glass and fuel efficiency

The automotive glass industry is  taking an active role in contributing through its products to reduced fuel consumption and fewer CO2 emissions of vehicles, thus taking an active role in contributing to the EU's innovative and technological competitiveness as well as to the greening of the transport sector. Thanks to continuous technology development, modern glass technologies also contribute to energy savings in different ways.

In this context, certain policy initiatives of the European Union can contribute to accelerating the use of energy saving glass products in light duty vehicles.


The mobile air-conditioning initiative

The European Commission has recently launched the 'Mobile air-conditioning initiative' to reduce CO2 emissions generated by the use of air-conditioning. The use of air-conditioning in vehicles is indeed the source of additional fuel consumption whereas technologies exist to reduce the need to air condition vehicles or at least to lower the load on the air conditioning units.

Among these technologies is solar control glazing. Automotive solar control glazing are technologies which can reduce vehicle's cabin temperature up to 7 to 8°C by decreasing by over 25% heat penetration in vehicles exposed to solar radiation. Hence solar control glazing enables to cut energy consumption of the air conditioning unit by an average 10% and can improve vehicle's overall efficiency by up to 2 to 4%, depending on vehicle's specificities.*

As part of the MAC initiative, it is envisaged to establish clear test procedures to effectively quantify fuel consumption of MAC systems. This would allow taking this consumption into account in overall and official vehicle's fuel consumption data. In a second step, MAC-specific emission targets could be defined to foster further green technology development and deployment in this area.

Glass for Europe is of the opinion that this initiative should already be used to activate simple market mechanisms so that car manufacturers are incentivised to equip their vehicles with solar control glazing solutions.

To learn more on the MAC initiative and the specific views of Glass for Europe, please click here to see the Glass for Europe position paper.


Lighter automotive components for energy-efficient transport

Other than significantly reducing the thermal load (leading to reductions in fuel consumption), the different types of advanced glazing are also designed to be lighter in weight; thus reducing the weight of the vehicle as a whole and generating further fuel savings. Innovations in thinner but stronger glass contribute to the target of reaching 90 gr/CO2 emissions by 2020. All glass manufacturers are constantly working on reducing weight wherever possible for all types of glazing, without jeopardizing safety in case of accidents.

In fact, the glass industry already has an impressive track record in reducing the weight of its glazing solutions. For instance, over the last 30 years, the weight of glass in vehicles has been reduced considerably while trends in design have led to larger glass surface, for instance with the integration of completely glazed roof tops. Nowadays, the average glass content in a vehicle represents only 3% by mass and glass is integrated as a structural component of cars, thus limiting the need to resort to heavier materials. Moreover, the use of acoustic windscreens allows car makers to reduce vehicle weight by using thinner glazing without sacrificing acoustic comfort.

* Sources available in the Glass for Europe position paper