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Designing the Future of the Automotive Industry: Great Designs in Steel Seminar

Seminar demonstrates steel's complete package of benefits over other materials

More than 1,400 steel and automotive experts gathered in Livonia, Mich. to discuss a key aspect of the automotive industry’s future success: advanced steel technologies. Recent research proves that advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) body structures can be as lightweight as aluminum bodies, while meeting all crash performance standards and matching today’s costs. To help drive AHSS integration into tomorrow’s vehicles, the Great Designs in Steel (GDIS) seminar brought together industry experts to explore all aspects of steel’s future in automotive design.

“Yesterday’s event provided compelling evidence about advanced steel’s current and future place in automotive applications,” said Lawrence W. Kavanagh, president, Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI). “Steel’s lightweighting potential, combined with its stellar safety and environmental benefits, make it the complete package automakers will match with new engine technologies to achieve 54.5 mpg in the future.”

During the full-day event, more than 35 presentations on all aspects of AHSS design, development and use highlighted the bright future for these new materials and demonstrated how steel will be implemented in future vehicles. The event is a forum for the auto and steel industries to come together and discuss new material grades, such as the latest class of nanostructured third generation cold formable AHSS, and share resources and tools, such as the Auto/Steel Partnership’s Joining Knowledge Base Team.

“The GDIS presentations debunked the misconception that steel is somehow unable to provide the lightweighting benefits of alternative materials,” said Kavanagh. “Given its unique chemical properties, steel can be formulated to satisfy vehicle performance, safety and emissions requirements at the lowest cost and environmental impact. Other materials just can’t compete with this package of benefits.”

At the event, representatives from leading automakers, including General Motors Corp., Honda R&D Americas, Inc., Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center GmbH and Ford Motor Co., presented vehicle reviews of steel body structure lightweighting capabilities. Application-specific examples demonstrating steel’s benefits compared to competing materials were also presented, including steel versus aluminum bumpers and steel versus plastic fuel tanks.

“This year’s event offered example after example of how the auto and steel industries are accelerating their work to reinvent steel and cars to provide affordable solutions for new vehicle mass reduction and performance targets,” said Kavanagh. “With the current and future research and development discussed yesterday, as well as steel’s unique ability to be continuously reinvented, the material’s role in the future of the automotive industry is hard to dispute.”

Since 2002, SMDI, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, has hosted the annual Great Designs in Steel seminar, which brings together North American vehicle manufacturers, Tier 1 suppliers, equipment suppliers, university representatives, steel company personnel and technical reporters. For more information, or to view the 2013 presentations, visit

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 24 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 123 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.

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 automotive investors include: AK Steel Corporation, ArcelorMittal Dofasco, ArcelorMittal USA LLC, Nucor Corporation, Severstal North America, ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, LLC and United States Steel Corporation.

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