New Steels Can Help Vehicles Achieve Five-Star Crash Rating, Double Fuel Economy at No Additional Cost

DETROIT, MI, January 30, 2002 - Greater use by automakers of new grades of Advanced High-Strength Steels (AHSS) will provide an unprecedented, high level of crash safety performance at no cost increase, according to a new study from the global steel industry. At the same time, use of these steels will enable automakers to reduce the environmental impact of their vehicles through a doubling of fuel economy, source reduction, and steel's inherent ease of recycling, study results show.

The study, ULSAB-AVC (Advanced Vehicle Concepts), available today from American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), comprises conceptual designs for two vehicles, a 2-door hatchback and a 4-door, mid-size sedan, that would meet more stringent future safety standards anticipated for 2004.

Advanced high-strength steels, the most sophisticated steels available for automotive production, are excellent for managing crash energy. As with conventional high-strength steels, AHSS foster weight reduction but exhibit a superior combination of high strength, crash energy management, excellent formability and dent resistance. These newly available, high-tech steel grades offer vehicle designers more freedom in how they address crashworthiness, packaging, styling and mass reduction.

AHSS make up more than 80 percent of the ULSAB-AVC body structures, with other grades of high-strength steel accounting for the remaining 20 percent. Extensive use of these advanced, high-tech grades, coupled with efficient design, results in a significant achievement in part consolidation. The body structures contain just 81 major parts each, which contributes to better structural efficiency and lower costs.

"Through the ULSAB-AVC program, we are continuing our commitment to an aggressive steel strategy to advance breakthrough technologies in steel vehicle design," said John Mayberry, chairman of AISI and president and CEO of Dofasco Inc. "This program is another step in our role as a leader in the materials industry to support steel vehicle design that achieves optimal performance, safety and affordability to meet global demand for the next generation of vehicles."

Computer-simulation tests predict that the designs would receive "Five Stars" in the U.S. NCAP and SINCAP crash safety tests, the highest possible rating in the United States. Additionally, the ULSAB-AVC vehicle designs would receive the top rating for performance against standards of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They would receive a "Five-Star" rating in European New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) tests, as well.

The study indicates that the designs would cost no more to build than comparable vehicles, allowing vehicle makers to incorporate ULSAB-AVC features at competitive consumer prices.

Manufacturing cost estimates range from $9,200 for the 2-door hatchback (European C-Class) with a gasoline engine to $10,200 for the 4-door, mid-size sedan (U.S. PNGV-Class) with a diesel engine.

Analysis of selling price data from manufacturers and other readily available sources indicates that ULSAB-AVC concept vehicles would sell at prices well below those of current hybrid-engine concept vehicles, while offering substantial reduction in CO2 emissions, compared to conventional vehicles.

Evaluations of ULSAB-AVC's potential fuel economy ratings for the 4-door, mid-size PNGV-Class vehicle (Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles) predict that:

  • The gasoline engine version would achieve 52 mpg in combined driving cycle (60 mpg highway), and

  • The diesel variant would achieve 68 mpg combined driving cycle (78 mpg highway).

  • The 2-door hatchback (European C-Class), a slightly smaller vehicle that is particularly relevant in Europe, achieved slightly better fuel economy.

In comparison to the weights of PNGV prototypes from General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler, the ULSAB-AVC PNGV-Class design compares very favorably. The PNGV-Class gasoline- and diesel-powered variants weigh approximately 2,200 and 2,273 pounds, respectively. The GM Precept weighs about 2,587 pounds, the Ford Prodigy 2,387 pounds, and the Dodge ESX3 2,250 pounds.

ULSAB-AVC incorporates numerous design advances, including a modular platform approach, a highly efficient body structure with an innovative front-end module, a highly economical powertrain, and effective front and rear suspension systems, all aimed at balancing fuel efficiency, environmental performance and safety while fostering low-cost assembly and ease of servicing.

ULSAB-AVC also features a full spectrum of the latest steel technologies, including tailored blanks, tailored tubes, assembly laser welding, and tube and sheet hydroforming.

"Steel's combination of excellent crash energy management characteristics, low cost and weight-saving capability, continues to offer vehicle makers opportunities to advance the state of the art of vehicle design. At the same time, this combination will keep high-volume, mainstream vehicles within financial reach of ordinary consumers," said Ron Krupitzer, senior director, Automotive Applications, AISI.

The new AHSS grades gain their high-performance properties in strength and formability by incorporating multi-phase microstructures, which contain martensite, bainite and/or retained austenite in quantities sufficient to produce unique combinations of attributes. Specific microstructures result from precise control of the chemistry and thermal treatment of these new steels.

Key to the successful integration of AHSS was use of simultaneous engineering techniques and close collaboration of steel company experts with the vehicle engineers at Porsche Engineering Services, who designed ULSAB-AVC. Early and active participation of steel company resources was instrumental in the selection and validation of the new steels.

"Our automotive customers are moving quickly to incorporate AHSS into the vehicles they will bring to market in the next few years and we look forward to continuing to help them take advantage of the superb properties and performance of advanced high-strength steels," said Krupitzer.

In addition to the use of advanced, high-tech steels in the body structure, ULSAB-AVC features intensive use of a range of steel grades, including a high percentage of AHSS, in a wide array of other applications.

Marcel van Schaik, director of Materials Technologies, AISI, explained, "The front suspension is a double wishbone design, with both wishbones using AHSS tailored blanks. Wheels, instrument panel beam, fuel tank, seat frames, bumper beams and closures all are steel. The closures (hood, doors, deck lid) incorporate high- and advanced high-strength steels, as well as tailor welded blanks and tubular hydroformed components."

ULSAB-AVC includes design and material concepts from the steel industry's prior research projects on closures (ULSAC) and suspensions (ULSAS). Successful integration of these concepts into a complete vehicle system confirms the mass-reducing and performance-enhancing potential of steel that the previous, independent project results predicted.

"Tailored blanks account for nearly 40 percent of the body structures, with hydroformed parts making up more than 20 percent and tailored tubes comprising six percent. Stamping is the predominant steel forming method in ULSAB-AVC, with more than 70 percent of the body structures and closure parts warranting use of this process," van Schaik said.

A consortium of 33 of the world's leading steel producers directed and funded the ULSAB-AVC study. Porsche Engineering Services, Inc., Troy, Mich., (PES) conducted the engineering work and managed the technical aspects of the program.

Member companies of the ULSAB-AVC Consortium include:

AK Steel Corporation (USA)
Bethlehem Steel Corporation (USA)
Dofasco Inc. (Canada)
Ispat Inland, Inc. (USA)
LTV Steel Company, Inc. (USA)
National Steel Corporation (USA)
Rouge Steel Company (USA)
Stelco Inc. (Canada)
United States Steel Corporation (USA)
Weirton Steel Corporation (USA)
WCI Steel, Inc. (USA)
ACERALIA Corporación Siderúrgica, S.A. (Spain)
Shanghai Baosteel Group Co. (China)
BHP Steel (Australia)
China Steel Corporation (Taiwan)
Corus Group (UK & Netherlands)
Iscor Flat Steel Products (South Africa)
Kobe Steel, Ltd. (Japan)
Nippon Steel Corporation (Japan)
NKK Corporation (Japan)
NOVÁ HUT, a. s. (Czech Republic)
Pohang Iron and Steel Co., Ltd (POSCO) (South Korea)
Rautaruukki Oyj (Finland)
Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) (India)
Salzgitter AG (Germany)
SIDERAR S.A.I.C. (Argentina)
SSAB Tunnplåt AB (Sweden)
The Tata Iron and Steel Company, Ltd. (TISCO) (India)
ThyssenKrupp Stahl AG (Germany)
Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais S.A. (USIMINAS) (Brazil)
USINOR Group (France)
VALLOUREC GROUP (France)
voestalpine STAHL GmbH (Austria)

The Automotive Applications Committee (AAC) is a subcommittee of the Market Development Committee of AISI and focuses on advancing the use of steel in the highly competitive automotive market. With offices and staff located in Detroit, cooperation between the automobile and steel industries has been key to its success. This industry cooperation resulted in the formation of the Auto/Steel Partnership, a consortium of DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors and the member companies of the AAC. For more news or information, view the American Iron and Steel Institute/Automotive Applications Committee's website at www.autosteel.org.

American Iron and Steel Institute/
Automotive Applications Committee:

Bethlehem Steel Corporation
Dofasco Inc.
Ispat Inland Inc.
National Steel Corporation
Rouge Steel Company
United States Steel Corporation