Can Your Windshield Affect Your Fuel Efficiency?

If you’re non-mechanical like I am, you can probably name two parts of a car that directly impact fuel efficiency: the accelerator pedal, and the tires. Those of you who understand an automobile’s inner workings can probably rattle off a few more. But few from either group would probably include the windshield. Yet Pittsburgh-based chemical, coatings and glass company PPG claims that it’s Sungate windshield technology does just that:

Recent PPG testing showed use of Sungate windshields, which reflect about 50 percent of the sun’s IR energy to help keep vehicles cooler, could reduce air conditioning use up to approximately 20 percent. The windshield reduces transmission of ultraviolet and IR solar energy, which helps reduce interior heat buildup, shorten cool-down time and reduce heat gain while driving.

“The Sungate IR-reflective windshield reduces the initial workload on a vehicle’s air conditioning system, which represents the biggest use of power for climate control in a vehicle,” said Mukesh Rustagi, global product market manager, PPG automotive OEM glass. “Because the air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard, fuel efficiency increases and emissions are reduced, and consumers experience a cooler vehicle upon entry.”

Rustagi said the recent volatility in gasoline prices has made consumers more aware of vehicles’ fuel efficiency, as reflected in the sales shift from larger SUVs to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. “A Sungate windshield helps vehicles’ fuel efficiency, which is great for the environment, for consumers’ pocketbooks and for automakers trying to satisfy consumers’ preferences,” he said.

According to PPG’s website, they’ve delivered over a million of these windshields to equipment manufacturers around the world (including GM), and that the Sungate performs 400 times better than conventional tinted windows. I had difficulty finding much else besides the company’s press release, but a paper at NREL’s website notes its work with PPG and other companies to develop just this kind of technology.

A four percent increase in efficiency certainly helps, and I find it interesting to see how engineers are looking beyond the engine and its performance for efficiency gains. Additionally, it’s easy to believe PPG’s claim that this is a technology that adds little extra cost to a vehicle while delivering improved mileage. So, I suppose my only question left: do they make these for hybrids…?

Thanks to good buddy and resident skeptic Bobby B. for the news. Full disclosure: Bob’s a PPG employee… Via Motor Age Online

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