CAFE Standards Set By The Obama Administration Didn’t Take Into Account Carbon Fiber Shortages

One problem with creating new regulations historically speaking is that you end up modifying industry sectors, and often catch companies off-guard. New rules and regulations can also cause severe shortages of materials needed to ensure that the industry remains stable and can meet the demand of consumers, customers, and clients of all sizes. Okay so, let’s talk about the Obama Administration’s recent update to the CAFE standards, or required mpg ratings for all new cars produced in the future.

There was an interesting piece in Plastics Today Magazine’s online news on July 10, 2012 titled; “Will a carbon fiber supply crunch emerge?” by Stephen Moore which noted amongst other things that even with a very modest increase in demand which should by all means be expected, shortages will start to emerge. Why do I expect shortages? Well, when we place regulations on automobile makers with things such as Federal CAFÉ Standards for mileage the car makers have no choice but to use lighter materials to reduce weight.

This at a time when the airline manufacturers are increasing production to meet demand for newer lighter aircraft to save on fuel, just as the trucking industry is, and further we have the private space industry coming up too. Not to mention sporting gear, specialty race cars, sailboats, and well just about everything that needs to be lighter and stronger. It is not that the free-market system cannot find solutions for these disruptions, free-market capitalism always finds the way, it’s that it was forced into a box unnecessarily.

It is quite possible that carbon nano tubes and graphene can help in the future to offset the shortages of plastics and plastic composites. However, that science isn’t upon us yet to the level of manufacturing process needed to help us overcome this current challenge which has been created by overregulation. In the future composite materials made up of various things such as carbon nano tubes, plastics, and carbon fiber will make everything lighter and stronger.

We didn’t really need new regulations on the auto industry to bring these technologies into fruition. The price of fuel and the need for efficient transportation is surely enough without government intervention – which has now once again led to the law of unintended consequences. At some point it would behoove us to have more free-market capitalist thinkers in our government, those that understand how industry works, how things are made, and where everything comes from.

Until that happens I guess we have to expect more disruptions in industry causing temporary job losses and chaos driven reshuffling of our workforce. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.