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High-Strength Steels Help Automakers Achieve Critical Mass Reduction To Meet Fuel Economy Standards

Steel industry remains committed to offering safe, economical solutions for next-generation vehicles

Responding to the Obama Administration’s release of aggressive new fuel economy rules this week, Lawrence W. Kavanagh, president, Steel Market Development Institute, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said that the steel industry, with its newest generation of advanced high-strength steels (AHSS), is committed to providing the leading material solution that will help automakers achieve the latest fuel efficiency, performance and safety standards..

“The most recent set of regulations provide aggressive goals that will stretch technology to meet these tough new standards and demand long-term commitment from automotive manufacturers and their suppliers,” Kavanagh said. “The steel industry has continually invested in new technologies for future generation steels and has developed new advanced steel grades that enable car companies to reduce mass, improve fuel economy, reduce total emissions and continue to provide affordable safe vehicles for the American public for years to come.”

The organization’s Auto/Steel Partnership – a consortium of North American steel companies and automotive manufacturers – recently celebrated its 25(th) year of helping drive steel innovations. In recent years, Auto/Steel Partnership projects have been aimed at increasing the number of steel options that contribute to improved fuel economy and reduced emissions, such as its:

— Future Generation Passenger Compartment Project that achieved a 15 to 20
percent mass savings in the vehicle passenger compartment with the
extensive use of AHSS, design optimization and manufacturing approaches.

— Mass Efficient Architecture for Roof Strength Project that developed a
lightweight vehicle roof structure design to meet enhanced government
driven roof-strength requirements. The use of advanced and ultra
high-strength steels achieved a 12 percent mass savings.

— Lightweight Front End Structures Analysis that studied the cost and mass
effectiveness of practical steel variations in front end automotive
structure design. The program exceeded the established targets,
providing a 32 percent mass reduction.

Further, the FutureSteelVehicle program is the most recent addition to the global steel industry’s series of lightweighting initiatives offering steel solutions to automakers around the world. The program developed steel body structure designs that reduce mass by more than 35 percent and total life cycle emissions by nearly 70 percent, while still meeting a broad list of global crash and durability requirements.

“Steel, and particularly the newest advanced high-strength steels, will be a leading material solution to help automakers achieve the ambitious new fuel efficiency standards,” Kavanagh said. “Advanced high-strength steel has become the automotive material that best addresses society’s need for reduced lifetime greenhouse gas emissions without compromising safety, performance or affordability.”

As further testament to steel’s key role in next-generation vehicles, earlier this month the Department of Energy announced that the North American steel industry will receive $6 million in research funding to continue the development of third-generation AHSS, which will make greater mass reduction possible with cost-effective steel solutions and save consumers money at the pump.

Beyond mass reduction, steel outperforms other materials in total emissions when a life cycle assessment approach is considered. The steel industry, along with many universities and materials suppliers, remains convinced that life cycle assessment will be a key factor in future total emissions regulations and remains committed to research on this vital technology.

AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 25 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 124 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI’s member companies represent over three quarters of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.

The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) grows and maintains the use of steel through strategies that promote cost-effective solutions in the automotive, construction and container markets, as well as for new growth opportunities in emerging steel markets. For more news or information, visit or follow us on twitter at

SMDI investors include:

— AK Steel Corporation
— ArcelorMittal Dofasco
— ArcelorMittal USA LLC
— Nucor Corporation
— Severstal North America Inc.
— ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, LLC
— United States Steel Corporation

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