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Cars represent a fast-growing market for the chemicals industry, according to IHS, with global car shipments expected to nearly double over the next 17 years, rising to 104.1 million units in 2020, up from 56.9 million vehicles in 2003 based on information from IHS Automotive. The majority of the growth will be propelled by the fast-expanding Chinese market.
From a practical perspective, automakers are adopting new materials to reduce the weight of their vehicles to comply with government regulations, says HIS Chemical. In the United States, for example, the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards mandate that carmakers' passenger vehicle fleets average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. To meet U.S. and European objectives for greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 and 2025, car road loads must be reduced by 30 percent, according to an estimate from IHS Automotive. This reduction will be required in addition to large-scale adoption of advanced engine, transmission,and hybrid technologies. The use of carbon fiber and polymer matrix composites are believed to enable car body-weight reductions of 25 percent to 70 percent.
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