The North American International Auto Show is currently underway, featuring the latest and greatest innovations the industry has to offer.
One technology that seems to sneak under the radar not only increases fuel efficiency and manufacturing costs associated with a vehicle, but also makes them safer. While many automakers are turning to hybrids and electric vehicles to meet federal regulations requiring increased fuel efficiency, others are turning to light weightmaterials that improve fuel efficiency. The government is requiring that automaker's' new fleet of vehicles must averageâ€‹54 miles to the gallon by 2025.
Ram featured its 2013 3500 pickup at this year's auto show, showing what high-strength steel has to offer the auto industry. According to Ram officials, the new 3500 can tow 7,000 more pounds when compared to the outgoing version of the car, because of high-strength steel.
Another automaker is currently implementing high-strength steel into production. The Ford F-150 pickup will soon be 250 to 750 pounds lighter with high-strength steel.
High-strength steel cheaper and safer
A recent report shows how high-strength steels are more cost effective than aluminum. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Mass Reduction for Light-Duty Vehicles for Model Years 2017-2025, high-strength steelsare the most cost effective material for automakers looking to lightweight vehicles.
Researchers showed that implementing the metal to the mid-size body, chassis and interior vehicle systems costs $0.46 per pound when using advanced high-strength steels, far lower than the $1.55 per pound to use aluminum.
"Cost models have traditionally associated a significant cost penalty with alternative materials and this NHTSA report confirms this while demonstrating advanced high-strength steels provide significant mass reduction at the lowest possible cost," said Lawrence Kavanagh, president, Steel Market Development Institute, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute. "This is significant, as automakers have the challenging task of developing affordable vehicles that meet new and tightening regulations."
A separate study showed that not only is the material cheaper to use in the manufacturing of a vehicle but it is also safer.George Washington University verified the technology had an outstanding crash performance in simulated New Car Assessment Program, Frontal, Lateral Moving Deformable Barrier, and Lateral Pole tests, as well as the International Institute for Highway Safety's Roof, and Frontal Offset tests.
"This extraordinary safety performance is due to steel's unique ability to reinvent itself by continually expanding the range of properties and performance available to the auto design engineer," Kavanagh said.