California Mandates Reflective Car Windows

by | Jun 26, 2009

reflectionwindowThe California Air Resources Board has adopted a regulation that will require new cars sold in California, starting in 2012, to have reflective windows. The board says this will help keep cars cooler and, because air conditioners will be used less, increase fuel efficiency.

The move follows an idea floated earlier this year by the board to ban black cars. After facing global ridicule, the air resources board said it had no plans “at this time” to regulate the color of car paint.

The board says that car makers can add chemicals to the glass during manufacturing to absorb the sun’s energy and use laminated glass coated with invisible microscopic specks of metal to reflect it.

“My view is that this is not another car regulation,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports board Chairwoman Mary Nichols as saying. “We’re supposed to be in the business of moving California toward a new energy-efficient world, and that includes reflective glass.”

Automakers, including Ford and Toyota, sought to delay the regulation. Applied Materials of Santa Clara, which manufactures solar-absorbing glazing, backed the measure.

Steve Douglas, representing the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said quick implementation will make it nearly impossible to test heat-reflecting technology before models start rolling off the assembly line once the rule goes into effect in 2012, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Douglas warned that the metal-oxide film used in reflective windows could interfere with wireless technology, including cell phones, satellite radio, GPS and some standard equipment on vehicles, such as low-tire-pressure warnings and automatic headlight activation.

“If you need to make a 911 call and material in the windshield blocks it, that’s an issue,”the Union-Tribune reports Susan Lipper of T-Mobile as telling regulators.

Compared to cars currently in showrooms, windows that comply with the standard will block 33 percent more heat-producing rays from the sun. This will cool the vehicle’s interior by approximately 14 degrees Fahrenheit for a car and 12 degrees Fahrenheit for a pickup or SUV, according to the board.

The regulation has two steps:

1. Over a three-year period starting in 2012 windows in new cars sold in California must prevent 45 percent of the sun’s total heat-producing energy from entering the car, with the windshield rejecting at least 50 percent of the sun’s energy.

2. In 2016 car manufacturers will be required to install windows in new cars sold in California that prevent at least 60 percent of the sun’s heat-producing rays from entering the cars interior, or propose alternative technologies to achieve an equivalent result.

Costs for the windows are expected to average $70 for the 2012 standard, and about $250 for the 2016 standard, with annual savings in gas of $16 and $20 respectively, according to the board.

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