DEARBORN, Mich. The U.S.
automotive supply chain may find itself short of
ultra-high-strength steel (UHSS) production capacity in coming
years even as a handful of specialty continuous annealing lines
look poised to come online in the mid-term, according to Ronald
Radzilowski, manager of metallurgical technology at Severstal
North America Inc.
"Auto producers are developing
capabilities to consume these third-generation advanced
high-strength steels," Radzilowski told attendees at
AMMs 5th Automotive Metals Conference in
Dearborn. "The real issue is: Will the United States have the
capability to make these grades in the next three to five
A few domestic steelmakers are
taking steps to install the necessary capacity, including
Dearborn-based Severstal itself, which has been looking at the
possibility of installing a new continuous annealing line at
its Dearborn operations (AMM, April 13). "Severstal is
actively trying to establish that precedent in the United
States," Radzilowski said.
Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel
Corp. and Japans Kobe Steel Ltd. also are constructing a
new continuous annealing line to process 500,000 tons of steel
per year at their Pro-Tec Coating Co. joint venture in Leipsic,
Ohio. The state-of-the-art line is expected to reach full
production by the end of next year.
But with a growing number of
automakers said to be eyeing the third-generation steels for
future models, more UHSS capacity may still be required,
Radzilowski said. "Our understanding just based on this side of
the world is that there will be shortage of supply if
advanced high-strength steels are incorporated into
automobiles. The technology is therewe just dont
have the supply."
Outside of the United States,
steelmakers in China and elsewhere in Asia also are trying to
ramp up their UHSS capacity, but the U.S. automotive market
cant rely solely on foreign material, Radzilowski said.
"The key thing is (that) if were going to service the
automotive industry in this country, we shouldnt have to
rely on imports. We should develop that capability and the
capacity to make quality material to anticipate automotive
applications. Certainly were moving in that direction,
hopefully more rapidly than we have in the past couple of