Global Steel Industry Project Provides Lightweight, Reduced Carbon Footprint Vehicle Options


DETROIT, May 18, 2011 – The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), in collaboration with WorldAutoSteel, announced today the results of a three-year program to develop fully engineered, steel-intensive designs for electrified vehicles that reduce greenhouse gas emissions over their entire life cycle. The FutureSteelVehicle (FSV) program features steel body structure designs that reduce mass by more than 35 percent over a benchmark vehicle and reduce total life cycle emissions by nearly 70 percent. This is accomplished while meeting a broad list of global crash and durability requirements, enabling 5-star safety ratings and avoiding high-cost penalties for mass reduction.

The FSV program developed optimized advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) body structures for four proposed 2015 to 2020 model-year vehicles: battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV-20) for A-/B-Class vehicles; and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV-40) and fuel cell (FCV) for C-/D-Class vehicles.

“FutureSteelVehicle taps into the best attributes of steel, including design flexibility, strength and formability, low manufacturing emissions and comparative low cost,” Jody Shaw, chairman, FSV program and director of technical marketing and product research at United States Steel Corporation, said. “Mass reduction of 35 percent sets a new milestone in lightweighting with steel and places it at par with the mass performance of current aluminum production vehicles.”

The FSV program brings more advanced steel and steel technologies to its portfolio, including more than 20 new AHSS grades of materials expected to be commercially available in 2015 to 2020. The FSV material portfolio includes dual phase (DP), transformation-induced plasticity (TRIP), twinning-induced plasticity (TWIP), complex phase (CP) and hot-formed steels, which reach into GigaPascal-strength levels and are the newest in steel performance offered by the global industry.

This flexible steel portfolio makes best use of the design optimization process that develops
non-intuitive solutions for structural performance. The resulting optimized shapes and component configurations often mimic Mother Nature’s own design efficiency, where structure and strength are placed exactly where they are needed for the intended function. FSV’s steel grades are selected with the aid of full-vehicle analysis to determine the best grade and thickness for an application and demonstrate steel’s ability to help increase the fuel efficiency of automobiles, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve safety and performance, as well as maintain affordability.

Consequently, the FSV concepts are very efficient and lightweight. FSV’s BEV concept weighs 188 kg and reduces mass by more than 35 percent over a baseline internal combustion engine body structure adjusted for a battery electric powertrain and 2020 regulatory requirements. FSV’s A-/B-Class PHEV20 vehicle weighs 175 kg, and the larger C-/D-Class vehicle versions weigh 201 kg. Non-intuitive structures can be seen throughout the FSV structures. A few examples are:

Front Rail Subsystem is a new design for automotive front crash structures. The unusual section shape of the rails is a result of the design optimization methodology that improved the effectiveness of each steel element to achieve minimum mass and best crash management performance. It is manufactured using a laser-welded blank with varying gauges of TRIP steel.

Shotgun Subsystem resembles a shotgun-type weapon and provides superior performance in both full frontal and offset crash simulations. The Shotgun is comprised of a three-piece hot formed steel tailor-welded blank of varying thicknesses and is manufactured using hot stamping with tailor quenching.

Rocker Subsystem is manufactured using roll-formed CP steels of GigaPascal strength. Resembling a skeletal bone, the rocker enabled excellent results in four different side crash simulations that are a combination of global requirements.

Included as an integral part of the design optimization process are crash analyses that encompass the most severe global requirements. FSV meets or exceeds structural requirements, and enables the achievement of 5-star safety ratings in final production vehicles.

“Achievement of such aggressive weight reduction accomplished with advanced steels and design optimization will set a new standard for vehicle design approaches for the future,” Ronald Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market for SMDI, said. “FSV reduces total vehicle emissions in anticipation of future regulations around the world. However, unless regulatory systems worldwide adapt to using life cycle principles to control emissions, there is substantial doubt that the lowest-emitting vehicles will be designed and put to use.”

A life cycle approach to vehicle regulations would encourage automakers to evaluate and reduce the life cycle emissions of their products. Regulations that consider only the vehicle use phase can encourage use of lower-density, greenhouse gas-intensive materials that may, in some applications, provide lighter weight components to improve only fuel economy (i.e. tailpipe emissions). Unfortunately, this may have the unintended consequence of increasing total greenhouse gas emissions over the vehicle’s life. This is especially critical as more advanced powertrains are adopted, making material production emissions an even greater percentage of total life cycle emissions.

The FSV program is the most recent addition to the global steel industry’s series of lightweighting initiatives offering steel solutions to automakers around the world. FSV follows the 1998 UltraLight Steel Auto Body, 2000 UltraLight Steel Auto Closures, 2000 UltraLight Steel Auto Suspension, and 2001 ULSAB-Advanced Vehicle Concepts programs. In total, this body of research represents an $80 million investment by the global steel industry.

The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, grows and maintains the use of steel through strategies that promote cost-effective solutions in the automotive, construction and container markets, as well as for new growth opportunities in emerging steel markets. For more news or information, visit

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Deanna Lorincz
Senior Director, Communications
Steel Market Development Institute
Tel: 248.945.4763