Several components of the new Volkswagen models are manufactured using the highly advanced Usibor 1500P product. ArcelorMittal developed this patented steel grade and is now one of the leading suppliers of these products. The company is not just supplying the steel for a new generation of vehicles, it is also playing an important part in the research work behind these innovations, as Greg Ludkovsky, head of global research and development at ArcelorMittal, explained: “Despite their lower gauges, high strength steels offer the same or better performance for cars than conventional steels in terms of mechanical behaviour. High strength and ultra-high strength steels contribute to significant weight saving of the vehicles without sacrificing safety requirements. Most of these steels also contribute to increased crash performance, and they often offer relevant weight saving solutions at neutral costs.”
ArcelorMittal works with car manufacturers such as Volkswagen to optimise the material used in the production process. Volkswagen’s new models are lighter thanks to the use of ultra-high-strength steels in the bodyshell – the main body of a vehicle. The company has also co-developed many solutions with the automotive industry which are aimed at only using materials with greater thicknesses where it is absolutely necessary. Solutions using hot-stamped, laser welded blanks are particularly efficient in this respect.
The weight reduction in new Volkswagen models is also achieved by using steel which simultaneously makes the cars safer and more fuel-efficient. Greg Ludkovsky explains: “Nowadays, lightweight high strength steels are the most cost-effective materials. We are still improving and pushing their limits in terms of mechanical properties. And we are developing new breakthrough generations of steels which will offer a huge additional potential for weight saving.”
Cees ten Broek, director of the WorldAutoSteel association, added: “Volkswagen’s use of advanced steel technologies is a great example of how this transformational material can help automotive companies to create the lightweight vehicle of the future”.
Reducing a car’s weight to cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions is a key objective behind the research. However, this cannot be done at any price. Apart from premium vehicles niche - for which steel frequently remains the preferred material - the market demands vehicles at reasonable prices. And steel is the most competitively priced material, offering the best balance in terms of construction and costs, weight saving and environmental footprint.
The production of aluminium and its recycling phases generates significantly higher CO2 emissions compared to the production and recycling of steel. As the processes of the life cycle assessment demonstrate, steel is a sustainable material because it can be recycled indefinitely without losing its inherent properties - and considerably lower CO2 emissions are involved in the process. At the end of a vehicle’s useful life, the steel it contains can be recycled completely without any detriment to its mechanical properties. Emissions can be reduced even further by using recycled steel in the production of new steels.
Sourced from ArcelorMittal, Luxembourg