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Solar Reflective Paint Technology to Increase Fuel Efficiency?

Sunny day, hot car

As noted in our handy Ways to Save on Fuel Infographic, reducing your air conditioning use can have a significant impact on your fuel use. How significant? According to Natural Resources Canada, running the A/C in your vehicle can increase your fuel consumption by up to 20%. When it comes to cooling the car while driving, you have a few options, such as:

  • Driving with the windows/sunroof open in the city;
  • Setting the A/C to “circulate” so that your car recirculates the already cool air in the cabin rather than pulling in hot air from outside; and
  • Using flow-through ventilation for both city and highway driving.

Aside from parking in the shade, however, keeping your car cool while you’re NOT driving can be a challenge. Enter this cool idea from Toyota – solar reflective paint. According to this article in Wired, Toyota has developed a paint that reflects sunlight, helping to keep the car cooler. Currently only available in Japan – and in this stunning lime green colour – the paint is meant to help minimize the amount of heat absorbed from the sun, leaving the cabin cooler and reducing the need to fire up the A/C.

Toyota Thermo-Tect Lime Green
Photo: Toyota

Ordinary white paint has similar solar reflective qualities as this new paint - but most other car paint colours include an element called “carbon black”, which is very helpful in adjusting paint hues but also absorbs a lot of heat. Toyota’s “Thermo-Tect Lime Green” paint is carbon black free and uses reflective titanium oxide particles to reflect the sun’s rays. No word from Toyota on just how much this new paint technology will help you save on fuel – but anything that helps cut down on air conditioning use is worth considering!

Would you drive a car with a lime green paint job if it meant you could save on fuel? Or will you wait until this solar reflective paint is available in more tame colours? Let us know in the comments! 

- Rose R.

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