Severstal North America in Dearborn is helping automakers develop lighter weight, yet stronger vehicles by using the latest computer aided technologies, manufacturing equipment, and new grades of high-strength steel. On Thursday, the company announced it has achieved weight reductions of up to 42 percent on steel parts while improving or maintaining overall performance.
“Consumers have been seeing lighter steels on the market for at least the last 10 years,” says Jim Mortensen, director of technical business development. “However, with the new press from governmental regulations (regarding fuel economy and improved crash performance), the pace in which it’s going is now faster.”
Severstal officials said their engineers achieved a full-vehicle weight reduction of 7.3 percent, while improving roof rollover crash performance and maintaining other stiffness design targets. In addition, the company’s stamping engineering team was able to achieve a 20 percent mass reduction in select vehicle parts by conducting computer simulations.
Using steel benefits OEMs, says Yu-Wei Wang, manager of stamping and material engineering. Most vehicles are already built with steel, so unlike using alternative lightweight solutions such as aluminum, the companies won’t “need a new set of tools or welding machines. The overall costs are a lot lower than competitive solutions.”
Mortensen says that the company anticipates the market for automotive steel will continue to trend toward a product that is lighter and stronger.
“Because of that, we’ve actually invested over $1.3 billion here in Dearborn toward increasing our capabilities to produce these type of steels,” Mortensen says, noting that Severstal intends to expand its staff in effort to handle larger projects. The company is currently accepting applications for body structure design engineers and stamping engineers on its website.