Lighter, Stronger, Safer: New Metal Trends in the Automotive Industry

steel car

For years, steel was undoubtedly one of the most popular metals used in the automotive industry. In 2014, trends in steel usage showed that automakers relied heavily on sheet metal companies.

According to estimates that were released by the World Steel Association, about 12% of steel sheet metal consumption was in the automotive sector. Unfortunately, demands for more efficient vehicles creates the need for the use of different metals. This has led to a change in the most recent metal trends in the automotive industry.

Steel Market Share Is Falling as Fuel Efficiency Becomes a Focus

Gasoline consumption per vehicle has declined in the recent years, however, the number of vehicles on the road is still increasing. In fact, even with fuel-efficient improvements in vehicles, gas consumption was at a record high in 2016 in the United States.

The gas that is consumed, the more harm it is doing to the environment. Since pollution and conservation are getting attention, new initiatives are being rolled out by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has recently announced that there will be a push for emissions reduction. Newer cars produced after 2025 are expected to get 54.4 miles to the gallon to comply with regulations.

The only way for automakers to release vehicles that come even close to the fuel efficiency targets that will be passed over the coming years is to use lighter weight materials like aluminum and plastic. The use of the lightweight aluminum alternatives has helped automakers design more efficient cars, but this has started to eat at the steel market share.

Safer Alternative in Collisions

Steel was often used as an alloy in the production of auto body parts because it is believed that the metals were less likely to crumble when involved in a collision. Steel is a great metal, but there are safer alternatives that can be used in the automotive sector.

Alternative metals that are able to absorb kinetic energy in a crash to reduce the incidence of injury for vehicle occupants. Some of these alternatives are other materials like aluminum and other alternatives are made of composite plastics. Each are being tested in crash tests through the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Aluminum is light in weight and extremely durable. This is a major reason why it’s estimated that aluminum usage in the production of vehicles is expected to go up by 20 percent between 2015 and 2025. The only major drawback is that aluminum is much more expensive. This leaves companies that produce steel and other sheet metals looking for a happy medium between lightweight durability and pricing.

Carsurfer Admin

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