News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

December 21, 2011

New CAFE standards in US may lead to larger vehicles

Filed under: General — Notch @ 4:54 pm

Proving the law of unintended consequences comes this story from Tire Business:

Proposed changes to corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards may cause vehicles to get bigger instead of smaller by the 2014 model year, a study by the University of Michigan says.

Researchers said “a loophole” exists in the new formula for calculating miles per gallon. Should auto makers choose to act upon that incentive, it would be more difficult to achieve the policy’s goal of reducing fuel consumption.


The U-M study used more than 450 vehicle makes and models to figure how auto makers could modify vehicle dimensions, implement fuel-saving technology features and trade off acceleration performance and fuel economy.

“It’s cheaper to make large vehicles, and meeting fuel-economy standards costs [manufacturers] money in implementing and looking at what consumers will purchase,” said Katie Whitefoot, another researcher involved with the study.

This is by no means a new phenomenon. As readers perhaps are aware, the development of the SUV actually can be traced back to CAFE standards; since light trucks were exempt from the standards, automakers began to build passenger vehicles on truck frames.

“Rollover” traces the origins of the SUV to U.S. automakers’ efforts to circumvent CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy), the stringent fuel-economy laws of the 1970s that contributed to Detroit’s painful decline during that decade. Since light trucks were exempt from the tough new standards, U.S. automakers exploited the loophole and put passenger-car bodies on truck frames. Thus was born the SUV.

Momentive and Sumitomo collaborate on fuel-efficient tire

Filed under: Silica, Tires — Notch @ 4:26 pm

From Rubber World: Momentive Performance Materials announced its collaboration with Sumitomo Rubber Industries on the development of Enasave Premium tire, which earned the highest rating (AAA) for rolling resistance under Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association’s (JATMA) labeling system. Launched at the Tokyo Motor Show, December 2-11, 2011, Enasave Premium is the flagship tire in the top-selling Enasave fuel-efficient tire series. Enasave Premium is the world’s first tire to use Momentive’s NXT Z 45 silane, a coupling agent for silica-based tire tread compound and an excellent candidate to consider for improved dynamic and physical properties, including rolling resistance and wet traction. The new silane can virtually eliminate the ethanol that is released during the manufacturing and use of silica tires.

India initiates antidumping investigation into Chinese carbon black imports

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 4:22 pm

On December 18, 2011, the Indian government announced its decision to investigate whether the increased import of carbon black from China was hurting the local manufacturers who are seeking imposition of a safeguard duty on inbound shipments. India’s domestic carbon black producers have requested the Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) for immediate imposition of safeguard duty on imports of carbon black originating from China for a period of four years.

“The application has been examined and it has been found that prima facie increased imports of carbon black have caused and are threatening to cause market disruption to the domestic producers of carbon black and as such it has been decided to initiate an investigation…,” the DGS said.

The application has been filed by the Association of Carbon Black Manufactures on behalf of two of its member companies Phillips Carbon Black Limited (Kolkata) and Hi-Tech Carbon (Sonebhadra). The companies account for more than 80 per cent of the total production of carbon black in India.

The imports from China have increased phenomenally from 13,944 MT in 2008-09 to 70,193 MT in 2011-12, an increase of 429 per cent. Besides, the import from China with respect to domestic production was 3 per cent in 2008-09, which has increased now to 11 per cent in 2011-12.

The profitability of the domestic industry has steeply deteriorated due to the increased imports and the domestic industry is now suffering financial losses, the application said.

Cabot moving masterbatch facility from Hong Kong to Tianjin

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 4:13 pm

Cabot has announced that it will close its Hong Kong masterbatch plant on March 31, 2012, and move the production to its new facility in Tianjin, China. Starting in April 2012, all of Cabot’s masterbatch product made in China will be produced in Tianjin.

Cabot’s Tianjin masterbatch plant, which opened in September 2011, has a current capacity of 45KMT, which in Cabot’s view makes it large enough to supply the current demand of the plastics industry in Asia, as well as its expected near-term future growth. Cabot’s operations in Tianjin incorporate both carbon black production and masterbatching, which creates strong competitive advantages through integrated economics, increased scale, and world-class process technology, according to the company.

Cabot produces masterbatch products for a broad range of uses in the plastics industry, such as key infrastructure and automotive applications. Typical end products include plastic moldings, pipes, cable jacketing, film, and much more. Carbon black masterbatch is a premixed material comprised of a polymer and carbon black for use in a wide range of thermoplastic applications.

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