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Steel Industry is Leading Lightweight Auto Manufacturing

23 August 2001

The National Research Council (NRC) recommends a closer look be given to steel-intensive technologies to assist the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program in meeting its affordability goal.

In its recently released Seventh Peer Review Report on the PNGV, the report states: "Because affordability is a key requirement of the 2004 production-prototype vehicles, the committee believes more attention should be paid to the design and manufacturing techniques being worked on by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) in the UltraLight Steel Autobody - Advanced Vehicle Concept (ULSAB-AVC) project."

"As the Peer Review Report states, it has become increasingly clear that the PNGV weight reduction and affordability goals cannot be achieved using low-density materials such as aluminum, magnesium and polymer composites," said Darryl Martin, AISI's senior director of automotive applications. "Through the ULSAB-AVC program, the steel industry has identified practices that can provide cost-effective solutions to these challenges."

Martin said the ULSAB-AVC program is identifying lightweight applications for advanced high-strength steels that offer significantly higher strength, better formability, and greater energy absorption for critical crash management applications than the mild or high-strength steels they replace, while exhibiting the same advantages in terms of design flexibility, recyclability, manufacturability and affordability. The new materials and technology can be utilized without any increase in overall cost -- in some cases, at less cost -- to auto manufacturers.

"The NRC report's finding that: ' ... the combination of 80 mpg and affordability appears to be out of reach' clearly points to the need for the PNGV industry and government partners to reexamine the program's goals and reorder its materials research projects. In light of the NRC's recommendations, which for the second consecutive year suggest that more attention be paid to the ULSAB-AVC research, AISI encourages the PNGV partners to move forward in developing an action-oriented research strategy that focuses on steel to help the program meet its affordability goals," Martin said.

"By refocusing the PNGV program according to the suggestions of the NRC report, steel solutions can be combined with the promising powertrain technology research already underway through the PNGV to provide light, safe and affordable high-mileage vehicles," said Martin.






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