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Late in 2009, the Obama administration aggressively “pulled ahead” the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, bumping up the federal mandate from 2020 to 2016. By 2016, all new passenger cars must achieve an average of 39 mpg, with light trucks close behind required to meet the equally as strict 30 mpg standard.

Today’s vehicles are complex and, because the design cycle to transform a vehicle from a concept on the drawing board to the showroom can take three to four years, auto makers are scrambling to come up with new designs that reduce vehicle weight and boost fuel economy.

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