The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) said today that it is actively supporting automakers as they work to produce more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles that can meet the Department of Transportation's (DOT) new requirements.
"The North American steel industry is committed to expanding its work with automakers to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles that will aid in eliminating our dependence on foreign oil," said Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of AISI. "We are accelerating our cooperative research and development efforts to produce advanced automotive steel technologies that will help carmakers reduce vehicle weight and carbon emissions, as well as increase fuel economy."
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Friday that the DOT has posted the new fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks for the 2011 model year, raising the industry-wide combined average to 27.3 miles per gallon. President Obama directed the DOT in January to review relevant considerations necessary to establish more stringent fuel economy standards and finalize by the end of March.
According to Ronald Krupitzer, vice president of automotive applications for AISI's Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), the use of advanced high-strength steels offers significant benefits in cost, weight savings, improved safety, recyclability and life cycle emissions for future vehicles. Recent work with carmakers has demonstrated that today's advanced high-strength steels can reduce a vehicle's structural weight by 25 percent. In fact, studies by Ducker Research over the last several years have verified that advanced high-strength steels are the fastest growing material in today's new vehicles.
The total steel in today's new vehicles represents about 60 percent of its total weight. Additionally, research funded by the National Science Foundation and the U. S. Department of Energy is underway at top universities to develop future steels that promise even more mass savings. These new future grades would become effective for vehicles built around 2020, when it is expected that the 35 miles per gallon standard will be in effect.
Krupitzer also said that in addition to mass savings, steel offers low total emissions associated with manufacturing and driving vehicles. This is measured by life cycle assessment (LCA), an established method of accounting for all the emissions associated with products like automobiles. The relatively low emissions and energy content of steels, and their high recyclability compared to other automotive structural materials, offer the cleanest environmental solution to future vehicles.
"We look at LCA as an opportunity for the steel industry to demonstrate steel's contribution to lower vehicle emissions, from the highly energy-efficient production of these advanced high strength steels to steel's infinite recyclability at the end of the vehicle's useful life," said Krupitzer.
Through SMDI's Automotive Applications Council, North American steel companies focus on advancing the use of steel in the highly competitive automotive market. For more news or information, visit www.autosteel.org. Automotive Applications Council members include ArcelorMittal USA, ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Nucor Corporation, Severstal North America Inc., and United States Steel Corporation.