HSS, AHSS and aluminum jockey for position in the race to cut auto curb weight

Feb 01, 2010 | 05:42 AM |

High-strength steel (HSS) and aluminum applications in auto body designs have reached all-time highs, with increasingly strict government regulations driving the need for better fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions—and further gains are anticipated, including in mixed applications.

The decline in curb weight from 2004 to 2009 was the largest in nearly 30 years, according to a recent study by Troy, Mich.-based Ducker Worldwide LLC. Over the past two years alone, an average of more than 114 pounds of mild-strength steel was replaced in each new vehicle by HSS and aluminum and through a shift to different body structures.

"There's not one car company that we've come across that doesn't make use of increasing amounts of high-strength steel," said Ron Krupitzer, vice president of automotive applications for the American Iron and Steel Institute's Steel Market Development Institute.

Advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) now account for nearly 15 percent of all steel in new vehicles compared with 10 percent in 2007, making it the fastest-growing automotive material, according to the AISI.

Krupitzer noted that flat-rolled and other steel products still accounted for more than half the curb weight of 2009 vehicles. "Steel is not only the existing material in a vehicle, but it could very well be transformed to the new products that have completely different performance standards," he added.....

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