Wednesday, April 01, 2009

No more black cars in the Golden State?

So rumour has it that California is thinking about banning black cars.

Yes, you read that right. No, I'm not making it up. It's not an April Fools story. Man, do I wish it was an April Fool's story.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has decided that non-reflective cars get hotter in the sun, which makes air conditioning systems work harder, which uses more gas, which increases greenhouse-gas emissions.

California legislators say that they have not called for a ban on any paint colours and have only said that cars must have reflective paint by legislated dates. Representatives for the automakers say that they can't meet CARB's demands without eliminating dark-coloured paint. Snopes tries to clear things up:

The rumor arose as the board considered requiring reflective car paints and windshields. The premise was that a cooler car would require a driver to use less air conditioning, which would require less gasoline, which would mean fewer greenhouse-gas emissions.

Several groups, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which lobbies for the big automakers, complained that a draft proposal to change the car-painting process to make vehicles more reflective would "eliminate a significant number of vehicle colors" because darker colors absorb more heat." Even the ARB itself, in a PowerPoint presentation on the paint proposal, stated, "Jet black remains an issue," though it never said the color should be banned.

So to be fair to the legislators, they have not outright banned dark colours for cars, but the argument is that that's what's going to have to happen for automakers to fall in line with regulations.

Another auto blog elaborates on the paint problem:

According to Ward's, suppliers have reportedly been testing their pigments and processes to see if it's possible to meet CARB's proposed mandate of 20% solar reflectivity by 2016 with a phase-in period starting in 2012, and things aren't looking good. Apparently, when the proper pigments and chemicals are added to black paint, the resulting color is currently being referred to as "mud-puddle brown." That doesn't sound very attractive, now does it?

I'm sort of inclined to believe the automakers over the legislators since they know the business better, and legislators are typically inclined to pass legislation that sounds good without considering the unintended consequences. Obviously, though, both sides have vested interests.

If you ask me, what California needs is some legislation (or elimination of legislation) to make it CARB-free. Ha ha. Get it? (I'm sorry, that was awful.)

Still can't believe it? Read more about the depressing (or maybe it's hilarious... I really can't decide) truth here and here.

Cross-posted to The Shotgun.

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