Studies Reveal Steel is the Best Option in Automotive Material

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DETROIT — An increasing number of recently published studies about advanced, high-strength steel reveal that it has become the lightweight automotive material that best addresses society’s need for reduced greenhouse gas emissions, without compromising safety, performance or affordability, according to Ron Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market, Steel Market Development Institute, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute.

The development of AHSS grades has been driven by the increasing challenges faced by automakers, such as crash performance requirements, the need to reduce vehicle mass for fuel efficiency and the need to enhance formability to manufacture high-strength parts.

“The advanced grades are relatively new to vehicle design and are significantly different from the conventional steels they replace,” Krupitzer said. “The lightweighting capability of AHSS results from their unique combination of strength and ductility. These attributes are developed by creating specific microstructures through precise and tightly controlled steelmaking processes. The results are lightweight automotive designs that are cost effective with low emissions that also provide unmatched safety performance.”

Below are some key advantages of AHSS:

Safety and Durability Performance

  • As shown in WorldAutoSteel’s recent FutureSteelVehicle (FSV) study, using today’s design optimization tools, a steel body structure with 35 percent weight savings can meet or exceed all safety requirements.
  • Steel remains the dominant material for automotive bodies and safety cages.
  • Consumers value the safety benefits of steel. When asked which automobile components protect them most, the top three choices by consumers were seat belts, steel frames (the steel safety cage) and steel side-impact beams (placed inside car doors to better protect passengers in side-impact collisions).

Sustainability

  • Steel is recycled more than all other materials on the planet combined, with an extremely high overall recycling rate. Recycling of automotive steel can top 100 percent, as the cars being recycled may be heavier than new models.
  • Because it is 100 percent recyclable, steel used in today’s cars can help automakers reduce the carbon footprint of tomorrow’s vehicles.
  • Automobiles are recycled more than any other consumer product, with nearly 100 percent of vehicles being recycled for their iron and steel content. In 2008, this resulted in more than 14.8 million tons of steel was recovered for reuse from scrapped automobiles.

Affordability

  • In raw material costs, aluminum is three times more expensive than steel;
  • In conversion costs, aluminum is two times more expensive than steel;
  • In assembly, aluminum is 20 to 30 percent more expensive than steel; and
  • In total, an aluminum structure is estimated at 60 to 80 percent more expensive than a conventional steel design.

For more news or information, visit www.autosteel.org.

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