A new survey conducted by DuPont and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) shows that environmental issues top the list of challenges facing the automotive industry, outranking cost reduction for the first time in 14 years.

A total of 53% of the respondents said that a basket of environmental factors such as fuel economy, CAFÉ and emissions or clean air regulations are the top challenges, versus 32% who cited cost. The survey was conducted among automotive designers and engineers in advance of the upcoming SAE World Congress in Detroit.

“While cost reduction remains very important, the automotive industry’s emphasis is on the environment and the demands that puts on innovation,” said Chris Murphy, director – Americas, for DuPont Automotive. “In the results, environmental considerations are driving system and vehicle design and development and are a differentiator in the consumer marketplace. Automotive designers and engineers are working with suppliers like DuPont to address these issues and to design and develop cost-effective, fuel-efficient vehicles with reduced environmental impact.”

Cost reduction is still one of the top material selection criteria, say 91%, but weight reduction jumps to the top of the criteria list for 82%, up from 66% last year.

Poised to grow the most over the next 10 years are advanced composites, say 62% of respondents. Bio-based, renewable materials will grow the most, say 26%; the same number who predicts aluminum will grow the most.

Materials such as DuPont’s MetaFuse™ stand to benefit from this trend. The nano-metal/plastic hybrids offer the strength and stiffness of metal combined with the design flexibility and lightweight benefits of high-performance thermoplastics to help take the weight out of structural automotive components, while also helping to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.

For more information, visitwww.dupont.com.