11th December 2015
In an interesting article on Automotive World, the world’s largest steel supplier, ArcelorMittal, puts forward its argument for car companies to come back to steel from aluminum to save vehicle weight and money.
You can read the opening lines of the article below but we’d suggest you head over to Automotive World for the full write up.
It’s been almost two years since Ford unveiled the thirteenth generation F-150. The aluminium-intensive incarnation of America’s favourite pick-up was well received, and whilst few OEMs have embraced the steel alternative quite so enthusiastically, the lure of lightweight aluminium has given the steel industry much to think about.
“That was a bad surprise for us,” says Brian Aranha, Vice President of Global Automotive at ArcelorMittal. “We just didn’t see it coming.”
Aranha is adamant that steel’s influence over the automotive industry remains firm. He predicts that over the next ten years, steel will regain ground lost to materials like aluminium. This, he says, is because OEMs are always going to go with the fastest, most cost effective option. And when it comes to cost-effective lightweighting, steel holds the key.
“Our steel solutions can reduce cost as well as weight,” he says, “and where there are cost increases, they are in the range of €1 to €1.5 per kilogram of weight saved. Conversely, aluminium solutions can mean cost increases of between €3 and €15 per kilogram of weight saved, depending on the application.”
The difficulty, he says, is promoting steel solutions early enough in the design cycle, and letting OEMs know that the potential exists. Whereas aluminium can be swapped in at a late stage of the manufacturing process, maximising efficiencies with steel requires consideration from the start. The later it is left, the harder it is to implement a steel solution across an existing assembly line.