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California Mandates Use of Fuel-Saving, Emissions-Reducing Infrared (IR) Reflective Glass on All New Cars & Trucks

PALO ALTO, Calif.--As a result of yesterday’s unanimous vote by the California Air Resources Board to enact California Assembly bill AB-32’s Cool Car Standards and Test Procedures, auto manufacturers will increase the use of IR reflective glass to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for vehicles sold in California starting in model year 2012. The phase-in schedule for the new regulations will be aggressive, with full implementation by model year 2014, and apply not only to cars and light duty trucks but to all medium-duty vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds.

Today’s decision dramatically expands the market for IR reflective glass technology, which blocks the sun’s heat to keep a vehicle’s interior cool and saves fuel by reducing use of air conditioning, which accounts for 5.5% of total fuel consumption or 7 billion gallons of gas annually. Although the new glass is mandated only for cars sold in California, automakers may eventually decide to adopt the technology nationwide as part of a comprehensive program to meet President Barack Obama’s new federal fuel-efficiency standards.

California-based Southwall Technologies (OTCBB:SWTX) manufactures heat reflective XIR film, which is an attractive, off-the-shelf solution designed to meet all aspects of the mandated glass performance. Automotive glass manufacturers can use XIR film to immediately produce IR reflective glass that meets the new regulations without the need to make large capital investments in glass coating equipment.

“Southwall fully supports the efforts of the California Air Resources Board to improve the environment both locally and globally,” said Matt Coda, product engineering manager with Southwall Technologies, during testimony yesterday in Sacramento before a public hearing to announce the new regulations. “IR reflective glass incorporating XIR film technology is already being used in over 20 million cars in Europe and can help the US auto industry reduce air conditioning power consumption up to 20% and increase fuel efficiency up to 5%.”

Anticipating increased demand for its XIR product, the company expects to expand film production capacity.

“We’re ready to help US auto glass manufacturers meet these newly mandated requirements with our innovative and proven XIR film technology,” said Dennis Capovilla, Southwall’s president and CEO. “The passage of AB-32 is a victory for energy efficiency, and Southwall is well positioned to meet the challenge.”

Authorized by passage of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the new regulations are part of the Air Resource Board’s long term plan to reduce California greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In California alone, the new regulations are expected to result in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide, of 0.7 million metric tons per year by 2020 and approximately 1.2 million metric tons per year by 2040.