Trends in Automotive Industry
Automakers worldwide have long chosen steel as their favorite material. Thanks to steel, automobile manufacturers have been able to achieve their desired standards of safety and strength at reasonably low costs in comparison to other potential materials. Thanks to the ever-increasing regulations in regards to emissions and fuel economy, it’s become necessary to reduce the overall weight of the automobiles. Steel is facing stiff competition in regards to other lightweight materials such as aluminum and other lighter-weight materials. To conform to such regulations, we’re going to review the current steel trends in the automotive industry. The ever-changing terrain of regulations and the implications of steel and its producers as well as the steps that such companies are taking in an effort to rise to such challenges.
Trends In Steel Usage Per The Auto Industry
As per the estimates of the World Steel Association, the auto sector is accountable for approximately 12 percent of the global steel consumption. One of the leading global producers of steel for automakers is ArcelorMittal. They account for up to 16.7 percent of the auto steel sheet marketing as of 2014. Steel is considered to be the most dominant material in the auto manufacturing process. This accounts for approximately 60 percent of the overall weight of the typical auto. However, moving forward, the amount of steel utilized in the auto industry today is likely to be reduced due to weight. Automakers are seeking out ways to comply with far more stringent regulations that govern the auto emissions and fuel economy.
Fuel Efficiency And Emissions Reduction Regulation
Of course, one of the more pressing concerns is that of the thrust for compliance with the ever-changing regulations that are governed in the auto industry. Additionally, to tackle such environmental concerns, the government in North America, as well as Europe, have set forth specific goals for fuel economy and the reduction of emissions. For example, the US government has set a goal of improving the typical fuel economy from 27.5 miles per gallon to 54.4 miles per gallon by 2025. In Europe, the goal is to reduce the emissions from 130 carbon dioxide grams per kilometer to 96 grams of carbon dioxide by 2021. To improve the fuel economy of cars, manufacturers are seeking out improved ways to lighten the weight of cars and this has begun to open doors for other lighter-weight materials like aluminum that are nibbling away at the steel’s market shares.
Challenges Of Steel From Other Materials
Thus, as a direct result to lighten the cars, manufacturers have been incorporating more lighter-weight materials like aluminum and plastics into their cars and trucks. Case in point, Ford’s F-150, an iconic pickup, aluminum only accounts for 25 percent of the curb weight of the 2015 model. This is a specific example of a large trend toward lighter-weight materials. North America, for example, has an average content of aluminum of 44.3 pounds per vehicle that was manufactured between 2012 and 2015. This is in correspondence to the ever-increasing percentage of aluminum to the typical curb weight of autos as set forth to decrease the overall curb weight by 2025. Aluminum is far lighter than steel and this reflects the increase of reduction of steel to help lighten up the weight of the vehicles. Overall, the weight of aluminum is anticipated to increase from 6.6 percent to 26.6 by 2025.
In a favorable regulatory environment, the overall scope of the aluminum is anticipated to increase. Unfortunately, aluminum is far more costly than its counterpart steel. Likewise, other materials like plastic and manganese are even more expensive.
Therefore, there is a huge trade-off of weight reduction vs the overall costs. Thus, there is an opportunity for other newer innovative materials that will balance the lower cost with the reduction of weight. This creates an opportunity for other, more innovative materials, to be utilized.
Advanced High Strength Steels
ArcelorMittal, a major steel corporation, and US Steel are heavily invested in the production of other, advanced high strength steels. This is in an effort to become the number one choice for materials of choice for the auto industry. High strength steels will have a tensile strength of 500 to 800 Megapascals or MPa. Such steels will offer up huge savings in weight in comparison to the former traditional steels as shown below.
ArcelorMittal and other companies are in collaboration with the Original Equipment Manufacturers or OEMs, in an effort to create solutions that will cater to the reduction of weight and the improved overall safety. Another example is the S in motion steels that offer as much as 19 percent savings in weight for the C-segment vehicle. Additionally, they are unveiling other types of high strength steels like the Usibor and the Fortiform steels. These are tailored for auto applications.
Approximately 30 percent of the ArcelorMittal’s R and D budget, is devoted to creating solutions for the auto industry. Likewise, the US Steel’s proprietary Trip range and Dual Ten ranges are all geared toward the auto industry sector. Steel companies are setting new goals to implement and maintain their competitive edge to utilize other, more competitive materials, in the production of autos today. The lighter weight vehicles are a trend of the future and every effort is being made to ensure that the auto industry is in compliance and their goals of creating and designing lightweight vehicles are being undertaken with renewed vigor.