SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The steel industry has faced a growing challenge from competing materials recently and is responding "aggressively," incoming American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) chairman Michael Rippey said.
"Many steel companies have increased their product development activities to continue to provide innovative steel solutions, and weve redoubled our efforts in the research and development labs," according to Rippey, who is also president and chief executive officer of Chicago-based ArcelorMittal USA LLC.
"Weve been confronted with competing materials for years. But this time it seems as if the megaphone is louder from the other side, and the investment they are making exceeds what they have done in the past," he said at AISIs annual general meeting in Scottsdale.
Rippey didnt specify the competing materials, but Ford Motor Co.s recent move to an aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup has started a debate about lightweighting materials (amm.com, Jan. 13).
He also pointed out that mass reduction wasnt the only way to meet stringent corporate average fuel economy standards that call for cars to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
"For example, a 10-percent reduction in vehicle weight with high-strength steel or alternative materials results in approximately 6-percent fuel economy improvement. With an average pickup truck, thats only 1 to 2 miles per gallon," Rippey said, pointing to other areas companies are looking at to reduce fuel economy like power trains, aerodynamics and power consumption in a vehicle.