Last week, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) hosted MAMA’s August meeting to share an update on the advanced high-strength steel industry, as well as provide attendees a glimpse at what an autonomous vehicle may look and feel like through a virtual reality experience.
According to AISI, as autonomous vehicles grow in popularity, “traditional” virtues such as performance, value sustainability and occupant protection will become that much more critical. Dr. Jody Hall, vice president, automotive, AISI, shared recent findings with the MAMA group to reinstate why it’s safer, more efficient and more sustainable for manufacturers to build vehicles with steel versus aluminum or carbon fiber, for example. Hall cited aluminum as steel’s direct competition, as carbon fiber is used in niche circumstances.
Based on a recent study, AISI found that 90 percent of consumers believe that steel is stronger, safer and more durable than aluminum, and that most consumers prefer a vehicle made from steel versus one manufactured with aluminum. These assumptions greatly impact their purchase decision.
Moreover, 71 percent of consumers cite price as being one of the most important criteria when purchasing a vehicle.
Finally, 60 percent of consumers buy a vehicle for its appealing physical design and ease of entry and exit.
Cost and Efficiency
AISI states that the strength of steel allows automakers to design more efficiently and safely to achieve important objectives such as performance. Because of its higher strength, manufacturers can use less of the material to complete the same amount of work. It’s all about input vs. output.
AISI also argues that, with aluminum, manufacturers have to change a vehicle’s structure to achieve the same objectives, thus driving up the cost to produce the vehicle and being less efficient overall.
Steel is known for its outstanding formability, interior spaciousness and smaller structural sections, hitting on the aforementioned points regarding consumer preference.
Steel and the Industry
A study conducted by Ducker Worldwide in 2014 predicted that seven out of 10 new pickup trucks produced in North America would be aluminum-bodied within a decade. Seven years later, the Ford F-150 is the only pickup that is all-aluminum. AISI lists cost, efficiency and sustainability as the top three reasons automakers have stuck with steel.
Steel and the Environment
Not only is steel safe, cost-effective and efficient, it’s also easily recycled (steel is recycled more than any other material) and low on CO2 emissions (due to its efficiency). Only the greenest cars rely on steel and its light carbon footprint. Dr. Hall reinforced the importance of looking at the entire lifecycle of a product.
In conclusion, AISI’s stance is that steel continues to be a sound material for automakers. With more than 200 grades of advanced high-strength steel, the steel industry is providing automakers numerous benefits in design capabilities, fuel economy, strength, durability and value for both traditional and, in the near future, self-driving vehicles.
Media members are encouraged to visit AISI’s press site for additional details and assets: https://www.autosteel.org/press.
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