Car Tech 101: Off-cycle technologiesBrian Cooley discusses why carmakers are seeking expanded US EPA credits for their progress in gaining efficiency in lesser known technologies like reflective glass and paint as well as cooled seats.
[SOUND] [MUSIC] Engine size, vehicle size, performance, model year, batteries, and electrification. These were what come to mind when you think of the factors that determine how efficient the vehicle is. But what about glass? And paint? LED lights? Or one of those goofy little solar panels on the roof? These are all part of a lesser known batch of efficiencies called off-cycle Technologies, because their benefits don't really show up in the standard EPA test cycle. And they also include some better-known technologies like auto start stop, or those aerodynamic grilles that open and close in front of your car. Now let me guess, right about now you're thinking, the contribution of things like reflective paint and glass and cooling seats and other technologies that Grant better efficiency by just taxing the A/C and the alternator a little bit less are only of interest to a few EV1 lamenting hyper miling geeks. Think again. Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, all seeking expanded credits from the US EPA for the progress they've made in using such technology. Now as you can see, the efficiencies from these are small. The 2015 Ford Fusion, for example, with the smallest engine puts out 303 grams of CO2 per mile. But across a large fleet of annual sales, every bit of CO2 credit can add up. The U.S. has ever increasing annual standards for fleet MPG, you probably know about that but also for fleet CO2 emissions. You may not know about that. Miss the goals, pay a fine. Now they've got car makers' attention and part of that attention then gets directed to off-cycle technology It can help them make the mark. But if a car maker is given credit for these off cycle efficiencies, from the EPA if it improves CO2 and from NHTSA if it improves MPG, it might be just enough to meet the goals in a given year. Or even exceed them, in which case the car maker can bank the excess. And use it in a later year if it fails to meet the standards. So the next time you are shopping for a new car and marveling how many of them offer things like cooled seats. Maybe its not that they want to keep your **** cool but keep their relationship with regulators Gators want. More Car Tech Demystified at CNETonCars.com. Click on Car Tech 101.