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ArcelorMittal reports that automakers are using more steel as quality improves

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In 1994, Audi developed an all-aluminum “body-in-white” for its A8, trading the relative expense of aluminum relative to steel for the advantage of lighter weight.

Twenty-three years later, the tide is appearing to turn in steel’s favor again, as Audi prepares to release in 2018 an A8 composed of more than 40-percent steel, “following the trend of automakers opting to use advanced high-strength steels in new vehicles,” ArcelorMittal reported in a statement released last week.

In point of fact, ArcelorMittal said, “steel’s strength has multiplied by almost 10 times over the past 20 years, from 270 to 2000MPa tensile strength. More than 80 new steel products are under development at ArcelorMittal, with an automotive steel grade portfolio of almost 200 unique steel grades, half of which were introduced in just the past decade.”

Audi’s switch back to steel is part of a growing trend which is even surpassing the expectations of steelmakers, according to data released by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI). “Between 2006 and 2015, the use of advanced high-strength steels in vehicles has grown from an average of 81 pounds per vehicle (36.7 kg) to 275 pounds (124 kg),” ArcelorMittal said. “That’s a threefold increase in just 10 years. What’s more surprising is that over the period 2012 to 2015, the use of AHSS has increased by around 10 percent each year, well above steel industry forecasts.”

At the same time, ArcelorMittal and other steelmakers have been working collaboratively to educate automakers about the importance of life cycle analysis, or LCA, which studies total emissions generated during the three stages of a vehicle’s life: production, drive phase and disposal.

“Right now, regulations only consider tailpipe emissions generated during the drive phase,” said Brad Davey, chief marketing officer, NAFTA and global automotive for ArcelorMittal. “However, each material used in vehicle production contributes to lightweighting and improves fuel economy, but each does so at a different cost to the manufacturer Đ and to the environment.”

Studies show that aluminum produced in North America emits four to five times more GHGs than steel, ArcelorMittal noted. In addition, aluminum requires seven times more energy to produce than steel.

“If we want to know how ‘green’ a vehicle really is, we have to measure emissions over its entire life cycle,” Davey said.

 

 

Posted 5/16/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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