New California Environmental Rule Could Disrupt Radios, Phones

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California’s Air Resources Board has ordered that that, by 2012, vehicle windows must be coated with microscopic specks of metal oxide to reflect sunlight and keep cars cooler, so that they require less air conditioning, but this may interfere with cell phones, satellite radio and even garage door openers. The California Manufacturers and Technology Association, Garmin International and the International Bridge, Tunnel & Turnpike Association all objected to the “Cool Cars” rule, saying that more time was needed to study how window glazing would affect these devices.

They pointed out that the reflective metallic material can degrade GPS signals. They warn that sunroofs would have to be “effectively black,” and Chrysler has said it may have to stop selling the soft-top convertible Jeep Wrangler in California because the flexible plastic windows can’t meet the standard.

Proponents argue that the rule will save 700,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2020—or the equivalent of taking 140,000 cars off the road for a year.

The rule takes effect in 2012 and requires that all vehicles stop 45% of the sun’s energy from entering the car by 2014 and 60% by 2016. The CARB predicts that it will cost automakers $111 per vehicle at first and $215 when the 2016 standard kicks in. It could take consumers 5 to 12 years to recoup this cost in gas savings from the car being cooler.

Still, the main concern remains not the cost but what effect window-glazing might have on different devices. Toyota experimented with a similar reflective glass in Japan in the early ‘90s, but they pulled the windows because it led to trouble with devices that used radio waves. Honda, one of the more environmentally forward-thinking automakers, has said that on the current timetable, the rule is “simply not feasible.”

Automakers have proposed a different standard that would “absorb” sunlight rather than reflect it, but CARB appears to be sticking with this rather bizarre rule. In terms of reduced carbon emissions, it seems like a whole lotta rule for a very small gain.

‘Cool’ Car Rules Could Affect Radios, Phones (Detroit News)

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