HYDROFORMED TUBE A tough road ahead for tubular auto parts proponents

Apr 01, 2008 | 01:35 PM |

When most people think of car and truck frames they think of steel stampings, but they might want to consider a more rounded perspective, according to some producers of tubular auto parts, who argue that the role of steel tubes in automobile frames could grow.

That's especially true in the wake of new emissions rules and more-stringent rollover standards in the United States as well as stricter crash survival standards in Europe, they say, because tubular structures are lighter, safer and more efficient to produce than traditional stampings for certain applications.

Increased U.S. fuel economy standards are scheduled to take effect in 2020, which means automakers will begin concept work by 2015 at the latest, according to Paul Schurter, principal engineer of advanced engineering at ArcelorMittal SA's automotive product applications unit. "But they will not wait until then. It's not the type of thing that can be accomplished in a normal product-design cycle," he said. ....

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