Advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) help automakers achieve their weight reduction goals and, because they require little to no changes in infrastructure, they achieve these goals at a lower manufacturing cost and with a lower total carbon footprint when compared to alternative materials.

The North American steel industry conducted a market research study regarding the role of steel in automobiles, revealing an overwhelmingly positive perception of steel across the consumer market. The 2013 U.S. Truck & SUV Market Study of more than 3,000 U.S.-based truck and SUV owners was commissioned by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and conducted by MindClick Global, a leader in supply chain research and sustainability.

KEY FINDINGS

  • When directly compared to other automotive materials, steel is more strongly associated with strength, safety and protection of the family, an important and personal element of a consumer’s driving experience. The strength of the material used in the frame and body of the vehicle holds as much significance over purchasing decisions as brand and cost.
  • This consumer trust and confidence in steel as a safe, green and fuel-efficient material also helps to elevate overall automotive brand opinion and propensity to buy.
  • Awareness of the use of AHSS directly correlated to an overwhelming amount of consumers, 90 percent, citing a strong preference for and likelihood to purchase brands that make use of AHSS.
  • Approximately half of participants surveyed agreed that replacing steel with other materials would undoubtedly lead them to question how the vehicle handles normal wear and tear and raises concerns about the potential cost of vehicle insurance and repair.
  • The study revealed at a 95 percent statistical confidence level that the manufacturing of vehicles using AHSS grades increases overall automaker brand equity to the consumer. Contributing factors included steel’s reputation for safety, performance and fuel efficiency.
  • When consumers were made aware that trucks and SUVs made from AHSS achieve reduced greenhouse gas emissions without compromising safety, performance or affordability, steel was very strongly preferred (4:1 ratio) over alternative materials.

49 percent of the 3,000+ consumers surveyed question impact on normal wear and tear, as well as vehicle insurance and repair costs when alternative materials are used.

In addition, 93 percent of the 3,000+ consumers surveyed strongly prefer manufacturers using advanced high-strength steel as opposed to alternative materials.

Steel is the only metal that works just as hard as you do and shows up ready to work, day in and day out, year after year.

  • Lightweight: Advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) can reduce a vehicle’s structural weight by 39% compared to mild steel.
  • Affordable: Mass reduction with AHSS allows designers to hit their weight reduction targets at lower manufacturing cost than alternative materials, thus maximizing shareholder value.
  • Sustainable: Steel is continuously recycled into new products, preserving natural resources for future generations and reduces vehicle life cycle CO2 emissions.
  • Trusted: Consumers know and trust steel. Vehicles using AHSS grades increase the overall automaker brand opinion and equity in the minds of consumers.
  • Repair and insurance costs are more affordable with steel-intensive cars and trucks compared to cars and trucks manufactured with alternative materials.
  • AHSS is available globally, so steel-intensive designs can be implemented on global vehicle platforms, enabling car companies to keep manufacturing costs low.

THE ROAD AHEAD

  • North American vehicles on the road today contain nearly 15% AHSS, and that number is growing rapidly.
  • SMDI and its member companies are working closely with OEM engineers on new vehicle advanced development projects, challenging conventional thinking when it comes to steel and helping them realize their weight reduction targets with AHSS.
  • SMDI has demonstrated to many automotive engineers that they want to Choose Steel First in their designs.

IN SUMMARY

Consumers know and trust steel. Vehicles using AHSS grades increase the overall automaker brand opinion and equity in the minds of consumers. AHSS offers automakers the ability to meet future regulations and return the highest value to their shareholders. Material selection is a business case decision, and that’s why the future in this market is great for steel.