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Ban dark colored cars!

California, USA almost banned dark colored cars! Dark paint absorbs too much heat from the sun, causing the air conditioner to work harder, using more fuel, and causing us all to choke! Oh no! I pasted the entire article below. It's from Car & Driver Magazine.

Tom G.
Car & Driver Magazine

Patrick Bedard: Cars to be Cool by 2012
Sunglasses for your car.

July 2009

It was looking like another casualty of the war on global warming was going to be black paint, the nation’s second-most-popular new-car hue. California, the state that loves to pass laws, was going to institute a so-called “Cool Cars Standard” as part of its effort to cut greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2016. Black looked doomed.

Everyone knows that black cars get hot in the sun. Hot cars use more A/C. The proposed Cool Cars Standard wasn’t as simple as banning black cars, but it would have had the same effect. The idea was to mandate “cool” paint, a special coating engineered to reflect solar heat. Certain architectural coatings work this way. Why not force automakers to develop similar finishes?

The proposed rule would have kicked in for the 2012 models, at which time a third of the colors would have to reflect 20 percent of “impinging solar energy.” By 2016, all cars sold in the state would have to use cool paints.

The payoff would come with the downsized air conditioners in these new cars. Studies done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) suggest that cutting A/C by 30 percent would save 11.2 gallons of fuel (or 224 pounds of CO2) per car per year.

We’re talking a California regulation here, but it effectively would apply to the whole country. Sixteen other states have adopted California emissions standards or announced an intention to do so. Together they represent more than half the U.S. car market so, sorry, Fargo, North Dakota, you get to pay up for cool colors even though you’d appreciate a little heat gain most of the year. That’ll be somewhere between $8 and $77 per vehicle, according to the California Air Resources Board, the bureaucracy that hatched the idea.

Still, it wasn’t for cost reasons that California pushed the pause button on the cool-paint idea in March of this year; it was that pesky issue of personal freedom. In a free country, people expect to be able to buy cars in whatever color they choose, and apparently “solar reflective” and “black” remain mutually exclusive qualities. The scuttlebutt has it that “mud-puddle brown” was the closest to black that paint suppliers had been able to come. Even the greenie blogosphere was getting anxious. Example: “Every right-winger will be ranting, ‘Big government is stopping people from being the idiots they have every God-given right to be.’”

**** right. I could get my oil pressure up for a few columns on that topic myself. What’s next in the micromanagement of our lives—a white-tuxedo law?

But there’s a better reason for dropping the cool-paint idea—too few BTUs avoided for the bucks spent. Another NREL study described tests done on a Cadillac STS with its roof treated with a 3M solar-reflective film. As expected, it reduced the temperature of the steel skin by 12 degrees but “did not have a significant impact on interior temperatures.”

In fact, most of a car’s solar-heat gain comes in through the glass. This is not news. When I was an engineer at Chrysler in the ’60s, air conditioning, a rare option back then, was always paired with Solex-tinted glass. It eased the A/C’s job.

Glass, it turns out, offers big opportunities for blocking heat because the majority of solar energy—about 60 percent—occurs outside the visible range, so it can be blocked with no loss of your ability to see out. The only standard in effect now says 70 percent of the visible range has to pass through to the interior.

Most of the energy outside the visible range—57 of the 60 percent—occurs in the longer wavelengths called infrared. The waves on the shorter-than-visible end of the spectrum, called ultraviolet, contain only about three percent of total solar energy. Still, they are famously damaging to fabrics, plastics, and even human eyes, so they are commonly blocked when it’s economical to do so.

Now that the cool-paint idea is gone from California’s cool-car proposal, there remains just a requirement for solar-reflective glass. At least they’re now on a solid technical footing. According to language proposed but not yet adopted as I write this, starting in 2012, all vehicles up to 10,000 pounds must have windshields that reflect at least 30 percent of solar energy, side glass and backlights that exclude at least 42 percent, and sunroofs (if so equipped) that bar at least 65 percent.

Requiring such high-performance glass as standard equipment is a radical idea, not that the technology doesn’t exist, but the cars that have it now tend to be very expensive; think BMW and Mercedes.

The traditional tinted glass—a light shade of green—reflects only six percent of solar energy. Windshields that meet the proposed California standard have a multilayer nanotechnology film on the inside of the outer glass ply. One layer includes a glaze of metallic silver in combination with other metals. While it’s reflecting solar energy, it also blocks microwaves in the frequencies used by police, thereby making your radar detector useless.

Probably the best-known windshield of this type is the Sungate from Pittsburgh Glass Works, formerly a division of PPG.

According to a draft of California’s proposal, the solar reflectivity requirement would jump from 30 to 45 percent in 2014. An advanced formulation called Sungate EP can meet this standard, but it’s so expensive, no carmaker uses it now.

If the regulators are going to mandate rich-guy technology to save on air conditioning, let me put in a personal request. I chased around Phoenix one day last June—the local news was reporting 111 degrees at the time—in a blown Lincoln MKS. It happened to be black and it had twin blowers, actually, one under each perforated leather front seat.

Take if from the seat of this tester’s trousers, that Lincoln was cool, the coolest car of the whole summer.

Re: Ban dark colored cars!

OMFG. 11 gallons of gas saved. I suffer from Individualitis. I fill my tank once a week with about 15 gallons of gas. Effectively this means that I might save 1 tank of gas a year. $40 right now.

I do have my AC on all year round, but this is for the benefit of dehumidifying the air, which makes my defroster work a lot better. I started doing this in Florida. You cannot operate a vehicle in Florida without an air conditioner. Your windows will never be clear.

People seem to keep spending tens of dollars to save pennies.

On a different note, my inhaler (albuterol) went from $20 a piece to $80. Why? They are now CFC free. Fortunately I don't rely on them much, but $60 will save the environment.... Er, make the company a lot richer.

Re: Ban dark colored cars!

Wouldn't be allowed here. How would State Security Forces (formerly police) be able to peer inside your car to see if you're being a Good Little Sheep and wearing your seatbelt as nanny said?

Re: Ban dark colored cars!

The requirement to wear a seat belt seems reasonable to me, because if you get yourself smashed up it also causes serious harm to other people: the poor so-and-sos who have to peel you off the car seat and the taxpayers who have to fund your long and expensive rehabilitation.

Re: Ban dark colored cars!

It would however seem more sensible to have a seatbelt clause as part of your health insurance rather than something the police can make money with when not busy prosecuting alleged rapists on the say-so of one person with mild regrets the next morning. That way, you could pay a supplement if for some bizzare reason you didn't want to wear a belt, or pay to have the steering column removed from your face out of your own money.

Re: Ban dark colored cars!

Good Grief! I actually agree with James! Frank's argument is essentially that of the protection racketeer. Remember that emergency service personnel are a) paid to do it and b) volunteers. It is not valid to use their (possible) distress as an excuse for compulsion.

Re: Ban dark colored cars!

They are paid to do it, but they are human and have feelings. We might also consider the other driver in a crash, who is likely to feel responsible for maiming the person who didn't wear a seat belt even if it wasn't his or her fault. Few of us are so despised that, if we were horribly smashed up, it would have no effect on anybody else.

A crude libertarian approach is just as wrong as the authoritarian ideas that are now so dominant. If 'passive smoking' really did cause serious health problems it would be right to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces. The point is that it doesn't, and it isn't; the authorities are just banning something because they dislike it and get a thrill out of bossing people.