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Steel lightweighting to redefine auto industry?

Belgium – The steel auto body structures of the near future ‘can be as lightweight as today’s aluminium bodies’, insists WorldAutoSteel, the automotive group of the World Steel Association. All crash performance standards have been met at a comparable cost to current steel structures, it emphasises.The steel industry’€™s most recent studies boost mass savings to 39% compared to a baseline steel body structure carrying an internal combustion engine and adjusted for a battery-electric powertrain and year 2020 regulatory requirements. The optimised FutureSteelVehicle (FSV) body would weigh just 176.8 kg, ‘putting steel on par with today’€™s aluminium production designs’, asserts the automotive group.

‘Our latest lightweighting projects show the continuing potential of steel and demonstrate how car makers can take advantage of steel’€™s design flexibility and use advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) to meet their difficult challenges for improving fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,’ says WorldAutoSteel’s director Cees ten Broek.

The FSV programme has developed optimised AHSS body structures for four proposed 2015-2020 model-year vehicles: battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) A- and B-class vehicles; and PHEV and fuel cell (FCEV) C- and D-class vehicles. ‘Although the programme focused on electrified powertrains, the design and material advancements are equally applicable for any type of automobile,’ underlines WorldAutoSteel.

The FSV programme employs various advanced steels and steel technologies, using more than 20 new AHSS grades – all of which are expected to be ‘commercially available’ in the 2015-2020 technology horizon. ‘These steels answer the call of automakers for stronger, formable steels needed for lighter structures that meet increasingly stringent crash requirements,’ notes the automotive group. ‘They are evidence of steel’s continual self-reinvention to meet automotive design challenges.’

For more information, visit: www.worldautosteel.org

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