Ricardo Helps to Commercialize Next-gen Automotive Materials

10th June 2015

Ricardo Strategic Consulting is providing expert support to Detroit Materials, Inc. to bring its innovative ultra-high strength materials to the automotive industry, thus enabling structural light-weighting initiatives.


Detroit Materials is a start-up firm focused on the commercialization of ultra-high performance structural materials, something for which it was recognized at last month’s SAE World Congress where it announced as winner of the 7th Annual Global Automotive Innovation Challenge for its ultra-high strength castable low-alloy steel to support vehicle light-weighting initiatives. The market interest for affordable light-weighting of vehicle structures is high, due to both light duty fuel economy mandates and forthcoming freight efficiency rules for medium and heavy duty trucks.

Detroit Materials has developed the strongest castable low-alloy steel in the market. This advanced steel offers a combination of strength, toughness, hardness and elongation that is currently only available using highly alloyed and costly exotic steels. The company’s nano-structured ultrahigh strength steel provides the ability to produce thin walled castings for demanding applications, offering the best-in-class performance per dollar as compared to titanium, aluminium, ultra-high strength steel, carbon fibre and other emerging advanced high strength steels. The material has the potential to support a variety of lightweight structural applications in the passenger vehicle, truck, defence, off-highway, and transportation industries.

With the support of Ricardo Strategic Consulting, Detroit Materials will initially focus on lower barrier to entry markets, such as chassis brackets for the Class 8 truck market, where the cast steel offers up to 58 percent weight savings – translated to the entire US Class 8 fleet this would deliver a potential fuel savings of over 80 million gallons (303 million litres) of diesel per year. As Class 8 trucks account for approximately 15 percent of transportation energy consumption, this curb vehicle weight improvement will provide a potential savings per vehicle of over 1,500 gallons (5,678 litres) of fuel and 18 tons (US) (16.3 tonnes) of CO2e annually. This technology will support manufacturers’ immediate needs to meet 2017 GHG emission and fuel consumption standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles.

Ricardo Strategic Consulting is working with Detroit Materials to assess market opportunities and best entry points based on the cast steel’s competitive position. Detroit Materials and Ricardo are also collaborating on an assessment of automotive component manufacturing costs to identify and resolve market entry barriers for new suppliers to low and high annual volume vehicles.

“Ricardo is pleased to be working with Detroit Materials on the commercialization of its ultra-high strength thin wall casting steel technology,” commented Dr Marc Wiseman, vice president of Ricardo Strategic Consulting. “The award of the Annual Global Automotive Innovation Challenge at this year’s SAE World Congress reflects the potential of its next-generation of materials and we look forward to working with Detroit Materials to develop and implement the company’s commercialization strategy.”

 

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