A Drive Down the Walk of Fame at the LA Auto Show

You’ve heard the rumors, you’ve seen the teasers, you’ve been refreshing your Twitter feed to no end and it’s finally here: the Los Angeles Auto Show! The unofficial kick-off to Auto Show season had some big promises from well-known brands and boy, did they deliver. Automakers went all-out to bring attention to their latest and greatest at Automobility LA, the press days and official precursor to the LA Auto Show.

This year had a common theme: larger vehicles are the immediate future of the auto industry in America. With gas prices dropping and consumers looking for vehicles with more high-strength steel it’s no surprise that hybrid and electric vehicles took a backseat to crossovers and SUVs. It seemed as if every automaker brought a brand new, redesigned or special edition crossover or SUV to Automobility LA for LA Auto Show attendees to admire. Our friends at She Buys Cars were roaming the floor as well, having plenty of fun (in true She Buys Cars tradition) with every reveal.

Here are the vehicles that everyone was talking about at the LA Auto Show:

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

That other Italian brand Chrysler picked up when merging with Fiat needed a grand entrance for its first serious foray into the American market, and it hit an LA-sized home run fit for Dodger Stadium. Like other car companies from lo Stivale, Alfa Romeo has long been known as a performance brand with an if-you-gotta-ask-you-can’t-afford-it price tag. At the LA Auto show, the brand revealed its first SUV, the Stelvio, which it claims can go 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and will be the fastest ever SUV at the Nürburgring. The SUV will hit dealerships in early 2017, which follows its luxury performance counterpart, the Giulia. A splashy entrance indeed for the Italians.

 

Volkswagen Atlas

As of right now, the large vehicles in VW’s American portfolio – the Tiguan and Touareg – are midsize crossovers . It’s a hot market, but as American VW owners turn in their sedans in search of something larger, the Germans needed to add another vehicle with some size to keep their customers from going to competitors. Enter the Atlas, which will be built at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN plant and will add to their midsize SUV offering in the United States. The vehicle will seat seven comfortably – which NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy of the LA Lakers demonstrated – and features the Digital Cockpit infotainment/gauge cluster system, which allows for customization in the same way that sister brand Audi’s Virtual Cockpit does. There is still much that is unknown about the Atlas, which will debut in 2017 as a 2018 model, so we’ll be interested to hear more about the Atlas’ features beyond what was revealed at Automobility LA.

 

Mazda CX-5

Mazda isn’t going to wow you with big-name celebrity endorsements or tie their vehicle into a movie franchise (like the next vehicle on this list). It spends what others may put into their marketing budget on designing safe, high-quality, visually appealing vehicles. The second generation of Mazda’s increasingly popular crossover was revealed at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show with the tagline “Car as Art,” and the overall styling follows their KODO design language, which is meant to capture the “Soul of Motion.” We’re big fans of Mazda increasing the amount of high-strength steel in the vehicle, which has upped the vehicle’s torsional rigidity by 15.5%. An increase in strength for an already-established brand among families? Good call, Mazda.

 

Nissan Rogue One

Where better for an automaker to show off a partnership with one of the most successful movie franchises in history than the LA Auto Show? Nissan collaborated with Lucasfilm to debut the 2017 Nissan Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition with a host of special effects. Introduced to the show floor alongside Stormtroopers and presented underneath a giant TIE Fighter, the Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition won in the presentation category. But take away all the special effects – what kind of vehicle did Nissan bring to Automobility LA? Nissan used what it calls “Zone Body Construction” to absorb impact in certain areas and stiffen in others, thanks in part to materials such as high-strength steel. Combine that with a quieter ride, a spacious interior and a host of safety features like its Safety Shield technology with Forward Emergency Braking and you have a vehicle worthy of the red carpet.

 

Jeep Compass

You knew the king of the SUV market had to bring something to such a crossover-heavy show, and FCA’s highest-selling brand had the new Compass up its sleeve. The smallest SUV in Jeep’s lineup (since the Renegade is a compact crossover), it has an available Trailhawk edition that upgrades its look as well as its off-road chops. This Jeep is designed to be a truly global SUV and will be sold in more than 100 countries around the world while maintaining the tried-and-true Jeep look and feel. With more than 65% high-strength steel in its body structure, it promises to be driven with confidence, wherever the road (or lack thereof) leads.

 

Subaru Viziv-7 (Concept Vehicle)

A concept vehicle? Why are we highlighting this? It’s simple. Concept vehicles are sometimes created for a manufacturer to have a little fun, but other times it’s to test out the public’s reaction to a brand entering a new segment. General consensus says that in the Viziv-7’s case, it’s the latter, and Subaru is rumored to be preparing an entry into the full-size SUV market for 2018 that borrows heavily from the Viziv-7. The in-your-face look, bulky but athletic wheels and attention-capturing headlights is at the very least a step in the right direction, we think. Automobility LA attendees agreed, as reaction was positive across the board for a three-row Subaru. Given that Subaru owners are some of the most brand-loyal in the industry, other automakers should pay attention – if Subaru gets your customers, they won’t lose them!

Did you attend Automobility LA or visit the LA Auto Show? Tell us what your favorite vehicle was in the comments!

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Big Trucks in the Lonestar State – a Recap of the Texas Truck Rodeo

This is a guest post courtesy of Nic Phillips, President, Texas Auto Writers Association

If you think trucks are a BIG deal in Texas you should know that the coveted title of “The Truck of Texas” is almost as big as the state itself.

The Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) gathered in Dripping Springs, Texas for the 26th annual Texas Truck Rodeo where more than 70 journalists named the 2017 Ford Super Duty the 2017 “Truck of Texas.”

truck-rows-at-sundown

It is the growth of the truck market that inspired the Texas Auto Writers Association to create the Texas Truck Rodeo.  This unique event pairs journalists directly with truck manufacturers, who many times ride shotgun to talk about the features of their vehicle. The journalists spend two days driving as many trucks as they can. This year, manufacturers brought in more than 71 vehicles valued at nearly $4 million. These vehicles were evaluated in 17 categories.

The TAWA Truck Rodeo that was held in the scenic Texas Hill Country and is sponsored by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI).  TAWA members were able to evaluate vehicles both on and off-road while climbing rocks, crossing creeks and dodging exotic wildlife. Longhorn River Ranch was an ideal location for hosting this event, the nearly 1,650 acre ranch boasted picturesque hilltops, ample rich bottom land and vibrant creeks.

LongHorn Ranch

LongHorn Ranch

It is through partnerships with groups such as SMDI that organizations such as the Texas Auto Writers Association are able to learn more about the inside of the automotive industry.  This type of opportunity provides additional membership value in the form of expanding educational opportunities.  Members learn more about the products on the market, which also enhances their capabilities and hopefully will lead to more opportunities in the automotive journalist market place.

“Steel remains the fastest growing material in automotive applications and the North American steel industry continues to develop new grades and advanced manufacturing technologies to respond to the changing needs of automakers, as it is an important material in the designer’s toolbox,” said Dr. Jody Hall, vice president, automotive for SMDI.

Nissan Armadas

Nissan Armadas

Other noteworthy wins were the SUV of Texas, the 2017 Nissan Armada built with a steel frame. The CUV of Texas, the 2017 Volvo XC90, steel intensive with the use of ultra-high strength (boron) steel in the safety cage. Best Commercial vehicle, the 2017 Nissan Titan XD Single Cab which features 58 percent high and advanced high-strength steel in its body structure. Luxury Pickup truck, the 2017 Ram 1500 with a ladder-type frame, steel cab, and double-wall steel pickup box. Full-Size Pickup, the 2017 Nissan Titan built with a reinforced steel-frame structure that helps maintain the integrity of the passenger compartment, while crumple zones absorb crash energy.

The Texas Auto Writers Association, Inc., is a non-profit organization providing growth, development, and networking opportunities for media members, as well as providing scholarships for journalism majors in the State of Texas education system.   

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STEEL: The Material’s Champion

It’s been a long election year, and although we don’t know who will win the presidential race, we do know one thing for sure: steel is the best candidate in the automotive materials’ race. While other materials may possess a few qualities we have, they don’t have it all. As we wait for our next president to be announced, let’s look at why steel is the materials champion!

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The Steel Campaign Platform

 Steel is lightweight: Advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) can reduce a vehicle structure’s weight up to 29%.

Steel offers high value: Mass reduction with AHSS allows designers to hit their weight reduction targets at lower manufacturing cost than alternative materials, thus maximizing value to automakers and consumers.

 Steel is trustworthy: Consumers know and trust steel. Vehicles using AHSS grades increase the overall automaker brand opinion and equity in the minds of consumers.

 Steel is strong: The variety of steel grades allows automakers to use the right grade in the right application for exceptional occupant protection, crash energy management and durability.

 Steel is sustainable: Steel is continuously recycled into new products, preserving natural resources for future generations and reduces vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.

Steel is global: Steel-intensive designs can be implemented on global vehicle platforms, enabling car companies to keep design and manufacturing costs low.

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The votes are finally in and we’re ready to announce the next materials champion… STEEL!

steel-checklist

Source: e3Learning (Flickr)

Light, strong and sustainable – steel is everything you need it to be.

Why did you vote for steel: the material’s champion? Let us know in the comments below!

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SMDI’s Halloween Trunk or Treat Contest

Halloween is right around the corner. You have to make sure you’re checking everything off your list.

Candy √
Costume √
Pumpkins √

Add one more thing to your Halloween checklist this year: The Steel Matters Trunk-or-Treat photo contest.

trunk-or-treat-contest

Every year, Halloween costumes get more creative. So, why not add that creativity to your vehicle? This year, we want to see your artistic and innovative trunk costumes for trunk-or-treat, an exciting alternative to trick-or-treating.

Take a look at these fun ideas for your trunk-or-treat inspiration.

Transform your trunk into a real life gumball machine, no actual gum required.

 

Keep it festive with some friendly ghosts.

 

You can never go wrong with a Disney theme.

#trunkortreat

A photo posted by Keeley Woods (@keeleydaynewoods) on

 

Touchdown! Show love for your favorite football team and turn your trunk into a stadium.

 

Feeling inspired, yet? Submit your creative trunk-or-treat photos on Facebook or Twitter using #SteelMatters for the chance to win a grand prize of $150, or the runner-up prize of $75. Prizes will be announced November 4, 2016.

Who’s ready for trunk-or-treat? Let us know what your ideas are for this year’s contest in the comment section.

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5 Things to Know When Buying your Next Vehicle

According to a study by TrueCar, fall and winter are the best times to buy a new car as dealers are trying to clear their inventory of older models before the new ones arrive. If you’re planning to take advantage of these hot deals, consider these five tips before buying your next set of wheels.

image-1-edmunds
Source: Edmunds.com

1. To buy or not to buy? That is the question. Whether you buy or lease your car, it’s a big decision. Do you prefer to own your wheels or do you like to get a new one after just a few years? Check out this Pros and Cons of Leasing vs. Buying a Car list to see what’s right for you.

2. Will you get the most bang for your buck? Since your new car payment is typically one of the biggest ticket items in your monthly bills, you’ll want to figure out what you can afford. To help stick to your budget, CNN Money offers several great tips and things to consider in determining your car budget.

image-2-flickrSource: Flickr

3. Who will use your car? Whether you buy a vehicle for you, your spouse and children or you and your pet, you need to decide which option is right for you. Your car-shopping check-list may consist of a family friendly vehicle. Take a look at this list of best family friendly vehicles for 2016 for ideas.

image-3-ecumenical-newsSource: Ecumenical News

4. How can your new vehicle help the environment? When you chose a steel-intensive vehicle, you make a sound choice for you, your family and the environment. Steel helps keep vehicles lightweight using less gas, has the lowest emissions during the production phase compared to alternative materials and also is completely recyclable – making steel the environmentally sound choice.

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5. What features are sleek and stylish? While looks aren’t everything, a car’s appearance is important when deciding what to drive for the next 3 to 5 years. Automakers are redesigning their models every year bringing the hottest new technologies and sleek designs to market. No matter what catches your fancy, a steel vehicle has all the glitz and glam of a new car without making any compromises to the environment. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Anything we missed? Share your thoughts about what to keep in mind when car shopping in the comments below.

 

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Celebrate Stars and Stripes, Celebrate Steel

Steel is present in almost everything we encounter every day. It is a critical component of the appliances in our kitchens, the cans that store our food, the buildings we work in, the roads and bridges we drive on and the cars and trucks we drive in. Steel also makes up a major industry of workers in the United States and globally.

This Labor Day weekend, we commemorate all the workers who are the backbone of our great country. Demonstrated by their hard work and dedication, laborers are the strength and longevity of the United States.

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Through its predecessor organizations, the American Iron and Steel Institute’s history spans more than 150 years. As steel manufacturers, researchers and consumers, we also celebrate the many jobs the steel industry has created and our products made in America.

NucorSource: Nucor Corporation

The North American steel industry employs top notch men and women of many diverse backgrounds and disciplines—the best and the brightest talent—to build a sustainable future. The steel industry directly employs about 142,000 people in the United States, and directly or indirectly supports almost one million U.S. jobs.

As the backbone of manufacturing, steel is a strategic industry essential to America’s economic growth and stability. We are constantly innovating and exploring new ways to make steel which keeps our industry one of the world’s most competitive, sustainable and environmentally progressive industries.

Steel PlantSource: Flickr

We thank all the workers who create continuous opportunities and contribute to design products made in America. We salute you! What American-made products do you celebrate? Who would you like to thank for their hard work? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Steel Vehicle Summer Wrap Up

Yes, we’re asking the same question, “Where did summer go?!” It always seems to take a long time for the season to arrive and goes by way too fast once it’s here. Luckily, there are still a few weeks left and we have the perfect steel vehicles to get you through your end-of-summer activities.

The Dream Cruise

Each year, on the third Saturday in August, more than 1 million people gather on the legendary 16-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue, in Southeast Michigan, to celebrate classic car culture at the Woodward Dream Cruise. Whether you’re watching vehicles pass as they cruise, or taking a peek inside one of the classics parked along the roadway, you’ve seen examples of how steel has influenced design over the decades. We have a hard time picking just one vehicle to highlight out of the long list of remarkable steel vehicles during this car-enthusiast gathering. Instead, we leave it to AutoGuide to share the coolest steel vehicles of last year’s Dream Cruise – most of which used steel for greater flexibility and performance to make designers’ and engineers’ visions come to life.

steel vehicle wrap up image 1Source: AutoGuide

College Move-In

Heading off (back) to college might be one of the most bittersweet moments for both parents and students. While it’s exciting for young adults to start a new adventure, its’ not easy to do without the help and support of their parents. Meanwhile, parents need another type of support. They need a reliable vehicle to help them make it through the journey. Our steel vehicle recommendation? A steel-intensive minivan to help you reach your teenager’s destination. Roomy enough to load up and reliable enough to get you there, a steel minivan is great for college move-ins.

steel wrap up image 2Source:  http://ow.ly/zR7i303mHOx

Off-Roading Adventure

We know the summer can get busy and your adventures get pushed to the side. Make time to hit the dirt and take an off-roading adventure. Our trip last October for the State Fair of Texas gave us insight on what pickups rock in the mud! Be sure to let us know where your favorite off-roading sites are located.

steel vehicle wrap up image 3.jpgSource: www.trucktrend.com

No matter what your final summer activities, whether it’s taking your kids to college, towing your boat home for winter storage or enjoying tailgating adventures, a steel vehicle is a vehicle of style, durability and reliability. How are you spending the last few weeks of summer? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below!

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Steel in Olympic Athletes

Cue the trumpets … now, cue the drums … here we go! The Rio 2016 Summer Olympics kick off tomorrow and boy are we excited. Every four years, we watch the long-awaited events, the summer sports, games and spectacles all while rooting for our favorites. Whether you cheer one athlete or another, there is no denying we can see steel in Olympic athletes. Perhaps it’s the athlete’s strength or the player’s discipline where you see resemblance to steel. One thing is certain though, steel in Olympic athletes gives them the ability to win any competition.

steel in olympic athletes image 1.jpg
Source:  Alistair Ross Flickr

Strength – Weightlifting was part of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. Modern steels are four to five times stronger than other commercially available automotive metals. In fact, some aluminum grades only meet the strength of steel grades introduced in the 1980s. Other materials have a lot of training in their future to catch up to steel!

steel in olympic athletes image 2

Endurance – In a race to the finish, steel is similar to the fastest runner in the Olympic Games. Steel crosses the finish line first and is more durable than other materials. Steel has a variety of grades, including advanced high-strength steel (AHSS), which allows automakers to chose the right one for durability within the vehicle. AHSS receives our medal for this event!

steel in olympic athletes image 3.jpg
Source:  William Warby Flickr

Formability (Stretch) – Like an Olympic athlete steadily performing on the balance beam, steel has something in common with gymnastics. Steel is more formable and ductile than other materials. Steel’s formability increases the design possibilities and allows the designer to take styling to new heights.

Discipline – True athletes must take the utmost care of their bodies with years of training to prepare for the Olympic Games.  In this same sense, steel takes care of the environment by generating the fewest CO2 emissions of any automotive lightweighting material during production.

steel in olympic athletes image 4

Wow! The steel in Olympic athletes really shines through. It’s hard for us to pick a favorite because so many possess these steel characteristics, so we cheer for them all! Which event is your favorite and which steel quality do the Olympic athletes hold? Let us know in the comments below.

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More Reasons to Stick with Steel

Whether you are a first-time car buyer or a seasoned car shopper, choosing a new vehicle is not always easy. While there are so many vehicles to choose from and most steel-intensive, here are a few of our favorites giving consumers more reasons to stick with steel.

Two is Better Than One

The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse are truly a match made in car heaven! Together, they boast stronger, longer, stiffer and lighter body structures at about 100 pounds lighter than the previous generation – helping you save money at the pump! GM uses 73% high-strength and advanced high-strength steel in the LaCrosse, helping it shed nearly 300 pounds from its curb weight. This new platform uses more AHSS and UHSS than its predecessor and features new manufacturing solutions.

Buick.jpg

Packed with Power

The 2016 Nissan Titan XD features a high-strength steel, fully boxed, and full-length ladder frame. Every component in the vehicle has been bolstered and strengthened for added stiffness, vertical and lateral bending, as well as torsional rigidity. This accommodates more towing for your summer vacation cargo and a heavier payload, adding to the list of why we love trucks.

Nissan Titan 

Safety First!

The 2016 Honda Civic uses 58% high-strength steel to increase size and stiffness, helping it achieve industry-leading safety ratings. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Civic rates 5 stars for frontal crash, side crash, and rollover. With all these accomplishments, no wonder why this car has been named 2016 North American Car of the Year.

Honda Civic

So, when looking at the possibility of a new vehicle, keep these makes and models in mind.

Think about the lightweighting, strength, and environmental benefits, but most importantly think of the endless benefits to sticking with steel.

Did we miss one of your favorite steel-intensive vehicles? Share your favorites below.

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Salute to American Steel

Since ancient times, steel has played a vital role in our everyday lives. Steel contains the 26th element on the periodic table, iron. It’s morphed into the backbone of the United States and steel can be found everywhere, from soup can packaging to the car you drive.

Man of Steel
 Source:  SITS Girls Flickr

Steel has shaped American culture in many ways even becoming part of the Superman obsession by making its way into the Man of Steel movie released by Warner Brothers in 2013 and the sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, released earlier this year. Steel has also tapped into America’s favorite sport by influencing the logo of the NFL team the Pittsburgh Steelers. The logo uses the American Iron and Steel Institute’s (AISI) design. It includes three hypocycloids representing the different materials used to produce steel. Yellow symbolizes coal, orange represents ore, and blue signifies scrap steel. The organization even petitioned AISI to change the name inside the logo from Steel to Steelers and is now showcased on the player’s helmets during games.

Steel Steelers

Source: steelers.com/history/logo-history.html

Steel isn’t going away – it’s evolving. Used in 1833 to help build the first skyscraper, the steel industry has developed new, higher grades of steel that use 3% less than 20 years ago helping to contribute to sustainability. Steel even played a vital role in the building of the Golden Gate Bridge in California. If it was built today instead of when construction started in 1933, only half of the 83,000 tons of steel used would be needed now.


More that half of the types of steels present in today’s vehicles didn’t exist 10 years ago and with breakthrough technologies and industry innovations, steel remains the leading material of choice across the board.

What do you know about steel? Test your knowledge with this interactive quiz courtesy of Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International http://app.snapapp.com/AHSSvideo.

SAE Screenshot.png

 

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