Last week, reports emerged that CARB, the body that can strike fear into the hearts of auto manufacturers at the mention of their name, had proposed to remove the color black from automotive palette. Of course, the state wasn't trying to get rid of one of the world's most popular car colors for aesthetic purposes - rather, its the environmental qualities of the color that the board was after.
We all know that white colored cars tend to stay cooler than black cars - this is because white can reflect heat, while black absorbs it. The reasoning behind the rumored proposal was that with lighter car colors, car interiors will be cooler and thus drivers will use the air-conditioning less, thereby reducing fuel consumption and saving the Earth from certain doom. Paint companies derided the no-black-cars idea as nonsense, saying that CARB was trying to put a simple theory into a difficult application.
The idea was a novel one, which CARB has apparently borrowed from Californian legislation aimed towards structural buildings. Where in buildings having reflective glass and paint colors can reduce energy usage, paint suppliers are claiming that the same idea doesn't quite carry over to the automotive industry, and that the environmental benefits may well be offset by the toxic heavy metals used in reflective paints that are difficult to recycle. Still, the energy savings issue remains.
Now that the black color issue is off the table, mandatory use of reflective glass or reflective paint may still be alternative solutions, however. Public comment on the reflective glass rule is now open, and a final vote on the 'cool cars' initiative is expected sometime after the board's late June meeting.