What do Detroit and the ‘new domestics’ really want?

Jul 01, 2008 | 06:05 AM |

North American mills have the capacity to supply nearly all the steel needs of the "new domestic" automakers—even higher value-added and advanced high-strength steels.

Nucor Corp. supplies material to the new domestics as well as the Detroit-area Big Three automakers, said John Ferriola, chief operating officer of the Charlotte, N.C.-based mini-mill steelmaker. "We have not failed to be able to produce a type of steel that has been requested," he said, touting the capacity of the company's Berkeley, S.C., mill to provide a range of dual- and complex-phase steels that are both strong and formable.

Some in the industry claim that the new domestics are easier to work with than the Detroit automakers because they plan further ahead and communicate more clearly with their suppliers. "That statement was true many years ago," Ferriola acknowledged. "Today, frankly, we've worked very hard—as have other companies—to improve communications between the steel users and the steel producers."

U.S. Steel Corp., Pittsburgh, thinks it knows what both the new domestics and Detroit automakers are looking for.

"They want the unattainium," joked Jody Shaw, manager of automotive marketing for the big steelmaker. "It is stronger than steel, it is very formable so they can shape it into whatever shape they want to make, it is completely weldable and it is cheaper than dirt."....

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