Cool Cars: Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Efficiency

global color popularity report image
Adam Stern at TerraPass outlines a looming debate over new ways to make all vehicles more fuel efficient, in his post: More ways to cut car emissions: reflective glass and paint.

Summing the debate: More efficient, comfortable cars are light-colored. Dark colors up the carbon footprint. The "coolest" cars are both light-colored and would have solar-gain reducing window coatings. Government involvement in making these choices would be 'socialist.'

California is working with the auto industry, and has, for several months, been looking for ways promote the combination of light colors and solar-gain cutting window glazes.

In terms of existing consumer choices, light colors cumulatively make up almost half of what consumers prefer, as the Dupont color report (pictured) indicates. (45%, roughly, are light toned.) Read on for details.From TerraPass:-

California is taking this work a step further with a little known initiative called Cool Cars. The program is studying subtle ways to reduce car emissions by rejecting solar heat gain through improved auto glass and paint. In hot weather, these techniques will cause car interiors to heat up less and thus require less air-conditioning. The savings are significant as a car running with the air conditioning off can be 20% more efficient than a car with it on.
Green Car Congress has the details of the California Cool Cars program in its post:- California ARB Defers Regulations Requiring "Cool Paint"

Adam's post seems understated regarding the benefits of Cool Cars. Perhaps because of my youthful experience driving a 1960, solar-oven-on-wheels, the "cool cars" idea seems especially alluring. The lesson is unforgettable, having been learned 'from the bottom up.' With front and back windows tipped back toward the dark vinyl dash and sun bearing down on the butt-cookin' hot vinyl seats of summer, it's a wonder I'm not sterile.

Think about the cascade of positive effects from a white roof paired with solar gain control windows.

  • No more 'parking lot saunas.' Cool is comfortable. Won't have to leave the engine run with AC on full tilt with the doors open before getting in.
  • With a lowered vehicle solar gain, a smaller AC system is needed, which in turn reduces vehicle weight, which improves gas mileage.

Adam points out that talking heads are spinning California's Cool Car Initiative as taking away the citizen's freedom of choice.
The state doesn't want to get into the business of telling citizens what color car they can or can't buy. Last month, the right-wing blogosphere (Limbaugh, et. al.) erupted when some commentators mistakenly alleged that California was about to ban black cars. Beyond correcting the record here, I am curious to know how consumers would respond to an education campaign to steer car buyers towards lighter paint colors.
Here's a good example of what Adam is talking about - over at the Patriot Room we learn that "California to Outlaw Black Cars."

Back to Adam's question. Are added comfort and efficiency, achieved with passive technology, reason enough for people to choose the Cool Car; or, are additional government incentives and standards needed? Let us know what you think.

And, finally, because nightmares need to be confronted, here is the former East German Sachsenring Trabant, shown in Socialist White (without solar gain control of course because the technology had not been invented at the time of its manufacture).

trabant east german socialist car photo

Image credit:Wikipedia.
NoFenders has a middle of the road version of the Trabant in Bipartisan Two-Tone, shown below.

And finally, we have the very libertarian, custom Trabant in Limbaugh Black, as presented on

black trabant photo

More related posts.

Car windows up & AC on versus windows down: which is more efficient??
Lighter Roofs Could Save $1Billion USD Annually
Solar Powered Prius Could Be First Hybrid With Solar

Cool Cars: Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Efficiency
Summing the debate: More efficient, comfortable cars are light-colored.

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