US Steel Chairman and CEO John Surma Delivers Keynote Speech at Great Designs in Steel 2011

John Surma - GDIS 2011 Opening Remarks

Great Designs in Steel 2011 – Opening Remarks - May 18, 2011

Mr. John Surma - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, United States Steel Corporation

Thank you, Larry [Kavanagh], and good morning!

I am delighted to welcome all of you here today to help us celebrate our 10th anniversary of Great Designs in Steel. GDIS has become one of our steel industry’s most anticipated annual events and, judging by the size of today’s audience, I would say that our automotive customers look forward to it as well.

It is great to see the auto makers steadily climbing back to good health. You can feel the positive energy in this hall, and the buzz around the exhibits shows that you are very much interested in what’s new with automotive steel.

This market segment is important to the steel industry and represents 25 to 30 percent of AISI members’ shipments each year.

That’s why we sponsor GDIS – to demonstrate to you, our customers, how steel is answering the challenges of today with steel solutions for cars and trucks. And, just as importantly, we will be explaining what we as an industry will be doing to reinvent our products according to your needs, out to 2025 and beyond.

Last year we featured a special theme about steel and life cycle emissions. This is a growing theme, and the unique properties of steel make it a leading contender for new designs that demand environmental performance including sustainability, low green house gas emissions, and recyclability. We have learned that steel’s impressive environmental performance is not as widely understood as we wish. But, in fact, steel is an environmentally friendly material. That becomes abundantly clear when we look at steel in the context of auto manufacturing.

First, the making of steel inherently requires far less energy and emissions than other structural materials which could be used to build automobiles. Beyond that we have made great strides in reducing the energy intensity and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with making steel. In fact we have reduced the energy intensity of steel by 30 percent and the CO2 emissions from steelmaking by more than 35 percent since 1990. In addition, when high-strength steels are used, the mass reduction results in less steel produced per car, further reducing the associated energy, emissions and natural resources associated with vehicles. Using less material and less energy is intrinsic to sustainability. Also, manufacturing plants can make lightweight, high-strength steel vehicles with the same equipment currently in use, thus avoiding building new plants and buying new equipment to process alternative materials for vehicles. This is another clear example of why steel is a sustainable solution.

Still another factor is the mass reduction of advance steel designs, which results in improved fuel economy and reduced tailpipe emissions. Finally, at the end of a vehicle’s life, all of the steel in a vehicle can be collected easily and recycled into any number of new products without restriction. Considering all of these factors is called life cycle assessment and should be part of the formula used by regulators to reduce vehicles emissions in the future - Not just tail pipe emissions.

I would also like to touch on the benefits of collaboration. The Steel Market Development Institute, the Auto/Steel Partnership and WorldAutoSteel (all represented here today) are great examples of how we, as an industry, approach big issues and solve them together. These forums enable us to address procompetitive challenges more rapidly and affordably. For example, for the last ten years we have worked together to validate the results of ULSAB-AVC, the steel industry’s global lightweight steel engineering project released in 2002. This $40 million dollar program focused on making lightweight steel-intensive vehicles with advanced high-strength steels. Through the combined work of SMDI, A/SP, WorldAutoSteel, individual steel companies, and most importantly - our customers - the increased use of advanced high-strength steel grades around the world has accelerated, resulting in safer, more fuel efficient and sustainable vehicles. Through these alliances, we have published manufacturing guidelines, which enable our customers to use new advanced high-strength steel grades with fewer challenges. Once these procompetitive research projects establish feasibility, then it is up to each steel company to support individual customers in growing the use of new steel solutions.

At U. S. Steel, we provide the auto industry with a portfolio of steels under the brand name of USS Safety Steels®. These have been developed to meet our customer’s lightweighting and safety performance needs both here in North America and in Europe. This product portfolio continues to evolve with grades offering even higher strengths and improved manufacturability, which enables us to offer lighter weight, affordable solutions to the changing requirements of the automotive market. In addition to the development of new innovative products, U. S. Steel engineers at our Automotive Center in Troy, Michigan and our Research and Technology Center in Munhall, Pennsylvania are dedicated to working internally and directly with our customers to provide new designs and manufacturing solutions using lightweighting USS Safety Steels®.

Beyond these advancements, U. S. Steel has recently announced a significant investment in a state-of-the-art continuous annealing line at our PRO-TEC Coating Company joint venture. This new line is scheduled to begin production in the first half of 2013 and will enable significant enhancements to our current portfolio of advanced high-strength steel products. This investment demonstrates our long-term commitment to our automotive customers and provides U. S. Steel with a market-leading capability that will help us meet our customers’ needs as they enter a period of time where automotive requirements are expected to change rapidly.

The speed with which market changes have occurred has been unprecedented. For example, the continuous increase in crashworthiness regulations has completely changed how vehicles must handle frontal, side and rollover crashes. And, we are entering into a period where the current and future CAFE laws will require challenging fuel economy improvements. It is our mission at U. S. Steel and in the steel industry through organizations such as the Steel Market Development Institute to continue to develop concepts for steel solutions to meet such challenges and communicate them at events like Great Designs in Steel. This event showcases how all of us can take advantage of the amazing properties of steel.

Today, you will hear about some steel success stories from the last year. General Motors will discuss incorporating high-strength steels into the Chevy Volt. Chrysler will do the same for the new 2011 Grand Cherokee. And Ford will report its development of the 2011 Explorer. You will also hear about manufacturing of AHSS through presentations on AHSS tooling, joining and forming limit predictions

One of the big events of the day is the unveiling of our major global project called FutureSteelVehicle. In this study, much like our work with ULSAB-AVC ten years ago, we will report on a state-of-the-art engineering analysis of lightweight steel-intensive designs. The vehicles in this study all have electrified powertrains. We wanted to show how effective steel can be in creating a lightweight structure that handles the special load cases of battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and fuel cell cars. Of course, the principles of this study can be applied to conventional internal combustion powertrain vehicles as well.

The FutureSteelVehicle program further leverages steel’s strength and design flexibility to reduce the mass of affordable steel bodies-in-white from 25% savings in the 2002 ULSAB_AVC program to 35%. This sets a new milestone in mass reduction with steel and places steel on par with the mass performance of current aluminum-intensive vehicles. And this is accomplished at no additional system cost relative to current steel vehicles, solidifying steel’s competitive position as the material of choice in automotive applications.

This milestone was accomplished with the creation of additional new steel grades and an expanded number of process methods relative to the ULSAB-AVC study completed a decade ago. The results will give car companies an idea of what mass savings can be accomplished with these steel grades and processes. Simultaneously, the results also give costs and carbon footprint results. In this way, a design engineer can compare different approaches to achieving target results. As in ULSAB-AVC, we, as the steel industry and as individual companies, will work with you, our customers, to realize these concepts in your products.

Now I’d like to recognize an engineer and presenter from last year’s Great Designs in Steel seminar whose work embraced innovation and made significant contributions to the advancement of steel in the automotive marketplace. The project embodied the ideal development approach by combining excellence in engineering with an automotive team of experts in the Auto/Steel Partnership to develop lightweight solutions in steel. This individual and his company have been chosen to receive the third annual Great Designs in Steel Automotive Excellence Award….

We recognize Hannes Fuchs [phonetic pronunciation Honas Fukes (like nukes)] of Multimatic Engineering for his presentation last year on “Lightweight Suspension Front Lower Control Arm Design Optimization”.
Hannes, will you please join me on stage.

This project was partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U. S. Advanced Materials Partnership through the FreedomCAR Program and was managed by the Auto/Steel Partnership. The awards panel felt that this work made excellent use of computerized optimization tools and advanced high-strength steels to showcase steel’s lightweighting capability. This project delivered a steel lower control arm at the same weight but at over 30% lower cost compared to the existing best-in-class aluminum production design. As in the FSV program, this is another example where steel can provide equivalent mass performance as best in class aluminum designs.

We would like to congratulate Hannes and present him with this year’s Great Designs in Steel Automotive Excellence Award. Hannes, if you would please join me at the podium to accept the award.



Congratulations to Hannes and to Multimatic for this fine work.

Now I’ll turn the mike back over to Larry Kavanagh.

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  

SMDI Automotive Applications Council Investors
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• ArcelorMittal USA LLC
• Nucor Corporation
• Severstal North America Inc.
• ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, LLC
• United States Steel Corporation

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