A High-Strength Celebration of Earth Day!

We live in a consumption-focused world, not giving much thought to the resources we use on a daily basis. From basic human necessities like food, clothing and shelter to advancements like technology, medicine and automobiles. We take many things for granted, knowing these items are plentifully available when we need them. For most, as long as we recycle what can be recycled, we feel we’ve done our part. However, we only get one planet! Earth Day was founded to bring attention to the needs of our planet, with a special focus on the environment. Its reach – and significance – has expanded greatly since 1970, with special attention on recycling and the impact humans have on the environment.


The official flag of Earth Day, created by founder John McConnell. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The first-ever Earth Day came about when John McConnell, a peace activist, proposed a day to honor our planet at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco. Though it was to be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson took the idea a step further. He proposed an environmental teach-in to be held on April 22, 1970 following an oil spill in California. It was there Earth Day was born. This marked the beginning of the environmental movement with millions of Americans participating in events in communities and schools across the country. 1990 marked the first international expansion of Earth Day, and the website states more than 1 billion people take part in Earth Day actions worldwide.

As an important part of modern society and one of the world’s most prominent industries, steel has made incredible progress in reducing emissions and the steel industry continues researching new processes to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted during steel production. Since 1990, when Earth Day went global, the North American steel industry has reduced the CO2 and energy intensity of each ton of steel produced by 37 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Additionally, steel is a major player in constructing green energy infrastructure. Check out The True Sustainability of Steel in Numbers infographic from the Steel Recycling Institute, WorldSteel and the American Iron and Steel Institute. The steel industry is part of the solution to reducing our impact on the climate. But steelmakers aren’t just doing more with less energy; they’ve made recycling a standard part of the steel-making process.

Steel holds the title of most-recycled material in North America – it is recycled more than paper, plastic, aluminum and glass combined. Scrap steel is the largest source of raw material in today’s steel industry, since steel can be recycled over and over with no loss in performance. Much of the scrap used to make new steel comes from automobiles, the most-recycled consumer good. Large magnets on cranes enable steel to be easily sorted and quickly moved along in the recycling process, a property of steel that saves both time and money. There are typically 60 to 80 million tons of steel scrap recycled per year into new steel products in North America. When taking into account all of the vehicles on the road today, steel’s dedication to sustainability shows. There is no denying the steel industry is committed to better equipping itself with the knowledge and capabilities to recycle more material for years to come.

LCA from worldsteel

The Life Cycle of Steel, from worldsteel.org

Considering autos, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from both the production and recycling of steel with emissions when driving the vehicles creates the car’s life cycle. Life Cycle Assessment, or LCA, is a tool to compare the life cycle of vehicles. It looks at the emissions from every part of the automaking process. The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, promotes the use of steel in the automotive industry on behalf of North American steel companies and partners such as the Steel Recycling Institute. SMDI encourages consumers, automakers and regulatory agencies to consider the lifecycle of a vehicle when judging cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers by their GHG emissions.

When taking a close look at the entire life cycle of steel, we see the steel industry takes its responsibility to the planet seriously – and not just on April 22. Already a leader in recycling, the steel industry is funding more research to create new processes to produce steel with fewer GHG emissions. This knowledge is enabling automakers to further reduce the impact vehicles have on the environment around us. It’s all part of the steel industry’s effort to create a better world.

How are you taking action this Earth Day to reduce your impact on the planet? What improvements have you made in your daily life to reduce your impact on the environment? Share your thoughts below!

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Steel Vehicles Have Changed – How We Repair Them Has Too

This is a guest post courtesy of Steve Marks, Industry Support Manager, I-CAR, and the recipient of SMDI’s 2017 Man of Steel Community Hero Award.

Advances in automotive steels are allowing global manufacturers to produce amazing vehicles to meet consumer expectations in style, comfort, electronic connectivity and performance. In addition to the high expectations of the consumer, there is also the EPA 2025 fuel economy target looming in the future. One way to increase fuel economy is to reduce vehicle weight. Since advanced steels are so strong and formable, body panels can be made thinner to reduce mass while maintaining structural integrity for performance and safety, thus providing the highest level of protection in a collision or rollover event. Crash performance is rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by the number of stars (up to 5 stars) awarded for frontal, side and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also assigns ratings, based on their own crash testing.

IIHS Crash Test Buick LaCrosse

Photo courtesy of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS); To maintain the original level of crash performance, structural repairs must be done as specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

In the unfortunate event of an accident requiring vehicle repair, the method of repair is not always obvious to the owner. If the paint color matches, the body panels align, and the vehicle drives well, the owner is usually satisfied with the repair. Incorrect repair may not be apparent until months, or even years, later, or in the event of another accident where the structure of the vehicle does not provide the level of protection originally designed into it. The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) recommends four ways collision repairers can repair automotive steel[1]:

  • Spot Welding – the joining of two metal surfaces with heat.
    • This is the most common weld and is usually used to join steels of the same grade, though two different grades can be welded together.
  • MIG Brazing – a special type of welding that minimizes heating of the steel.
    • Used primarily with hot formed boron steel – an ultra high-strength steel with boron added for extra hardening and wear resistance; which can be formed into complex shapes.
  • Weld Bonding/Sealing – spot welding used in combination with an adhesive.
    • This is typically used for overlapping sheet metals.
  • Rivet Bonding – using rivets and studs in conjunction with adhesives.
    • Able to join both similar and dissimilar metals.

When repairs are done correctly, there should be no reduction in the integrity of a vehicle’s crashworthiness. It’s one of the many ways in which the IIHS has advanced automotive safety. Well-known for its crash testing, the IIHS’s annual “Top Safety Pick” and “Pick+” awards are highly coveted amongst automakers. A key criterion of their testing requires collision repairers to restore a vehicle to its original crashworthiness. To achieve this, other automotive materials must be fully replaced with a brand new part. On the other hand, steel reduces the costs of repair (and therefore insurance premiums) because many grades can be repaired, rather than outright replaced, with no reduction in crashworthiness.

Buick Lacrosse BIW

Photo courtesy of General Motors; Only a small percentage of current body structures are made from mild steel. Vehicle structures are now made mostly from advanced steels.

Joining Body Panels

Photo courtesy of I-CAR; Advanced steel body panels must be joined to the structure using the correct methods and equipment specified by the vehicle manufacturer. 

To ensure the correct repair of your vehicle, it’s necessary to have the work done at a trusted repair facility which has the technician skill and training, up-to-date equipment, and the quality parts and products to provide a safe and complete repair.  When going to your local collision repair facilities look for evidence of ongoing technician training and a good reputation of doing quality work. Some vehicle brands have authorized collision repair centers with specialized equipment and training to provide a quality repair. Look for current certificates displayed to prove the technicians receive ongoing training from vehicle makers and from I-CAR.

Looking for the I-CAR Gold Class logo is one way to know your collision damaged vehicle is in the hands of trained technicians. Many vehicle makers, including Honda, Nissan, GM, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and others, leverage I-CAR Gold Class repair facilities and I-CAR trained technicians for their repair networks. To learn more about I-CAR Gold Class, visit https://www.goldclass.com

I-CAR Gold Class

Photo courtesy of I-CAR; The I-CAR Gold Class logo signifies a collision repair shop has achieved and maintains a high level of role-relevant training across each of the major collision repair roles.

[1] Advanced High-Strength Steel Structures Collision Repair Update: 

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Forging a Future: Women Impacting Today’s Steel Industry

As an important part of the global economy, many people look to the automotive industry as a trendsetter in the worldwide workplace. Much like the automotive industry, the steel industry has been historically male-dominated since its inception. It didn’t change much until World War II, when Rosie the Riveter told American women they were capable of holding their own, women began to expand their roles outside the home. Though many women left those jobs once the war was over, some stayed, and the notion of women working alongside men gained acceptance. Fast-forward to today, and whether it’s in management, in distribution or in the factories, women are rubbing elbows with men in today’s steel workplace more than ever. In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to highlight women that are making an impact in today’s steel industry.

“Advanced high-strength steels help us put the right material in the right place.”
– Theresa Klix, Head of Metallic Materials Engineering,
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

FCA’s head of metallic materials engineering, Theresa Klix, started off as a product development engineer for body structures. Now, she oversees metallurgists and material experts as director of the NAFTA Engineering Standards group, which harmonizes engineering standards across the globe. She talked with us about why Steel Matters to her in a short interview, seen above.

SMDI_Women in Steel_Elizabeth Krear

Keeping within Fiat Chrysler, Elizabeth Krear has an absolutely vital job within the company. She’s the chief engineer of the Ram 1500, the highest-selling vehicle in FCA’s portfolio. She was profiled in a previous blog post after being awarded SMDI’s Industry Innovator award at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. She used Advanced High-Strength Steel in key areas during development of the Ram 1500 that helped it achieve the best gas mileage in its class for fuel economy. Whitney from Be Car Chic sat down with her in 2015 and picked her brain about what drove her to where she is today.

SMDI_Women in Steel_Jackie Stachowski

A mother to four children, Jackie Stachowski of Nucor started out as the youngest-ever metallurgical service engineer in LTV Steel’s history, rising quickly to a role in technical sales before joining General Motors. Now, she is president of the Association of Women in the Metal Industries’ Detroit chapter, where she is helping younger women along the trail she blazed, while encouraging them to forge their own pathway to success. Read more about her in last year’s Mother’s Day Blog Post.

“We’re very lucky to have someone of her caliber aboard, and I’m lucky to have her in my organization.”
– Kevin Doyle, Environmental Division Manager,
ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor

Ensuring that her company keeps the area around it as sustainable as possible, Simonne Benoit is a true asset to ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor, according to many of her compatriots. “The things that she does, work-wise, not only benefit us as a company,” says Kevin Doyle, environmental division manager, “but Northwest Indiana as a whole.” She created a zero-discharge water system that keeps used water inside ArcelorMittal’s ecosystem, rather than discharging it into Lake Michigan. Read more about her in this NWI Times feature.

SMDI_Women in Steel_Brandie Sebastian

The environmental sustainability data created and analyzed by the American Iron and Steel Institute, its partners and other industry members is an important asset to both the steel and automotive industries. By conducting research and building upon knowledge of life cycle data, Brandie Sebastian continually strives to be an agent of change across the steel industry. In her role as the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Manager at the Steel Recycling Institute, she has been instrumental in developing processes and resources for understanding how steel and steel products affect the environment throughout their life cycle. Primed by a background in environmental engineering, she has helped create Environmental Product Declarations for various steel products, conducted LCA studies of automotive lightweighting, serves in leadership roles in LCA and sustainable materials organizations, and continues to improve the data and methods on which the foundation for steel life cycle research resides. She largely credits her success to female mentors at every step of her education and career. Through mentorship, she says, “I learned how to truly value myself and find the courage to take the leap when exciting, yet challenging, opportunities presented themselves.” She’s paying that mentorship forward by helping develop young women in the sustainability field!

SMDI_Women in Steel_Deanna Lorincz

Serving as SMDI’s Senior Director of Communications for six of her 16 years at the Institute, Deanna Lorincz has made her mark by boiling down complicated technical information into language that is easy to understand – even if you’re not a metallurgist. She leads SMDI’s communications strategy with the steady hand of more than 20 years of experience. Deanna was responsible for planning, implementing and launching the inaugural Great Designs in Steel conference in 2002. Under her leadership, it has since become the largest materials-focused event in the world, propelling the visibility of advanced grades of steel to new heights. She credits her success as an advocate for steel to implementing appropriate communications strategies to inform customers about the superior performance advantages of steel, and would advise young women looking to make headway in the industry to “constantly challenge yourself” and “keep an open mind to new ideas.” She’s truly an example of hard work paying off!

There are thousands of women we haven’t mentioned who are impacting today’s automotive and steel industries – from the factories to the boardrooms – balancing work, support of their communities and family. Women’s History Month is a time set aside to recognize them and how they contribute to a better industry. We encourage you, our readers, to join us in honoring women across the world!

Know any other women who are making an impact in the steel and/or automotive industries? Which of these women are most inspirational to you? Leave us a comment and let’s chat!

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Music: The Necessity for Every Great Trip!

Your car is a part of you, no matter if it’s a sedan, luxury vehicle, SUV, or convertible. Cars are the best way to get around in the United States, and owning one (especially your first one) is a major life event. It’s no surprise that driving has become part of the American fabric.  Not only does that mobility give you the opportunity to have more experiences, the trip itself can often be just as memorable.

Whether a drive is just a few minutes or a couple days, nothing helps pass the time better than music. A good playlist can be the difference between two hours of staring at brake lights or two hours of your own personal concert, complete with vocals. Knowing this, automakers are quick to stay on top of music trends. They offer their customers a wide array of options for listening to their preferred music, ranging from satellite radio to AUX cords to Bluetooth capability and often have premium speaker system packages in their high-end trim levels. The car has been a music medium for generations, and will certainly continue in the future.


As we head into the warmer months, we decided to curate the ultimate driving playlist for any road trip on Spotify.

We present to you… SMDI’s Ultimate Driving Playlist! Be sure to hit “Follow” so you can access it easily on your personal profile. We think you’ll like what you hear…

You’ll notice these songs all have one thing in common – they’re songs you can make memories to, especially on the road. Who hasn’t heard the opening riffs to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run and immediately turned up the volume? How about listening to Little Red Corvette over and over again because when you’re belting out the lyrics, the song goes much too fast? Or had Fun, Fun, Fun driving to the beach on a warm, sunny day – even if you never had a T-Bird? Our collection spans genres and decades, but as the songs will show, the love of driving is universal.

What do you think of our playlist? Anything we should add? How about songs that you’ve made memories on the road to? Leave a comment and let’s relive your experience!

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Tracing Canada’s History Through its Cars

This is a guest post courtesy of the Canadian International AutoShow.

As Canada prepares to mark its 150th anniversary, the 2017 Canadian International AutoShow will help celebrate the country’s remarkable history in the best way it knows— through its cars.

Under the title The Canadian Story, this year’s Art & the Automobile exhibit features Canada’s most important cars in context with important historical landmarks over the past 150 years. It will showcase a combination of Canadian designed and built cars that stretch back to the year of Canada’s confederation, as well as extremely rare cars owned by Canadian collectors who share a passion for fine cars — many of them with connections to important historical events. The one-of-a-kind exhibit is being hosted by Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance, September 17, 2017.

The roots of auto manufacturing in Canada are as old as the country itself. Visitors to Art & the Automobile will be able to glimpse our rich car-making history and see several examples of vehicles that were designed, built and sold here.

Among the Canadian-made vehicles are:

  • 1867 Seth Taylor Steam Buggy. Canada’s first car hit the road the same year as Canada’s confederation. The steam buggy was designed and built by Henry Seth Taylor, a prosperous watchmaker, jeweler and businessman in Stanstead, Que. While Taylor never went into the car-making business, his invention has permanent home at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • 1910 McKay. The McKay was the only car to be commercially produced in Nova Scotia before the arrival of the Volvo in 1963. Brothers Jack and Dan McKay built cars between 1908 and 1914, producing an estimated 125 vehicles. One of only two surviving examples of the McKay, the car to be displayed at the AutoShow is owned by the Canadian Automotive Museum.1910-mckay
  • 1914 Russell. This 1914 Russell 14‐28 is a fine example of one of the most distinctly Canadian cars ever built. Both the car and its engine were designed and built in Canada, something quite rare in the history of automobile manufacturing in Canada. This is clearly a luxury vehicle designed with great attention to details and finished in the finest materials. This car is especially remarkable because it was once owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Anderson, daughter of Thomas Russell, the first president of the Russell Motor Car Company.1914-russell
  • 1927 McLaughlin-Buick. One of two original McLaughlin-Buicks hand built by General Motors in Oshawa, ON. for the use of the British Royal Family during their 1927 tour of Canada.  The seven-passenger open touring car, owned by collector Tony Lang, was built for a five-week tour by the Prince of Wales and Prince George to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of Confederation.1927-mclaughlin-buick
  • 1956 Monarch Richelieu. Owned by collector Andy Schmidt, this 1956 Monarch Richelieu is a convertible, painted Lauderdale Blue and Continental White with all numbers matching. Only about 11 of the 163 Monarchs built in Oakville, Ont. are known to exist today.1956-monarch

In addition these fantastic showpieces, Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance has also brought together a number of rare and historic cars owned by some of Canada’s top collectors, including:

  • 1903 Columbus Electric. Total production of the Columbus Electric, built in Columbus, Ohio, is not known, but only two examples from 1903 are known to have survived. This Columbus, serial #78, is from the first year of production, during which only this folding top roadster body style was offered. The early history of the car is not known, but it was discovered in Kingston, ON by owner Peter Fawcett’s father in 1957 in fairly sound condition.1903-columbus-electric
  • 1935 Packard 1207 Dietrich-bodied Coupe Roadster. Owned by Gallery 260 Limited, this luxury roadster is one of only six such V12 cars remaining. This particular car was delivered new to the Packard Ontario Motor Car Company of Toronto, Ont. and has been owned and operated by several Canadians, including first owner Marland Woolnough, founder of National Grocers in Canada.1935-packard
  • 1936 Roll Royce Phantom III Sedanca De Ville.  Owned by Iron Band Holdings Ltd., the first owner of this beautiful car was the Marquis de Villeroy of France for his use on the continent and while in Britain during the Second World War. This is the last model of Rolls‐Royce that Sir Henry Royce was involved with prior to his death. This is one of two Sedanca de Villes bodied by Carrosserie Henry Binder, famous for the coachwork on two of the Bugatti Royals.1936-rolls-royce
  • 1949 Cadillac Concept. Owned by Steve Plunkett, this prototype Coupe De Ville Cadillac was built by General Motors for the Transportation Unlimited Exhibition of the first Post World War II Auto Show held in New York at the Waldorf Astoria. This custom hard top was the superstar prototype coupe on display at the show and became Charles Wilson’s (then President of GM) car. This is the only survivor of the four prototypes produced.1949-cadillac
  • 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Superleggera. The 1965 Aston Martin DB5 is considered by many to be the most famous car in the world, largely because it appeared in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. With only 886 built, a DB5 Coupe is a rare car indeed. Dare to Dream Classic Cars is proud to be the owner of this outstanding DB5.1965-aston-martin

The AutoShow is proud to welcome back Castrol and Lant Insurance Brokers as associate partners of the 2017 Art & the Automobile exhibit. Located on the 700 level of the South Building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the 2017 Art & the Automobile installation is a collection of fine cars and history that’s not to be missed.

The Canadian International AutoShow will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre between February 17th and 26th. Please visit autoshow.ca for more information. Follow us on Instagram @cdnintlautoshow, Like us on Facebook and join the conversation on Twitter @autoshowcanada with the hashtags #AutoShowOhCanada and #CIAS2017.


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Taking Innovation to New Heights

Steel is accelerating innovation in today’s automotive history – like it has for decades. Just look at how much advanced high-strength steel is used in today’s vehicles – 10% higher than projections! We’re not surprised with how much high-strength steel is used by the automotive industry, given its strength and lightweight applications, but we aren’t resting on our laurels. We’re continuing to spread the message about why #SteelMatters and how it’s raising expectations for the rest of the industry.

If you’ve attended an SMDI-sponsored event in the past year, you know how much we like sharing the great performance, value and sustainability of steel. We’ve talked with people about steel at auto shows, ride and drives, and luncheons across North America.

From California:


to Michigan:


to Texas:


to New York:


…Americans are getting smarter about what they drive – and the materials those vehicles use!

We’re kicking it up a notch this year by attending even more automotive events around the United States – and in Canada too, and leaving behind a prize! Steel has made millions of road trips happen across the continent over the years, so we’re on a trip of our own in 2017.

Our first stop this year was in Detroit for the 2017 North American International Auto Show, where we handed out the Men and Women of Steel Awards and put steel at center stage during our press conference.


Afterwards, we headed to our nation’s capital for the 2017 Washington Auto Show. Policy took center stage this year, given today’s changing political landscape. Highlighting the show were the 2017 Green Car awards, given out annually by Green Car Journal. All three award winners make significant use of steel – led by the 2017 Green SUV of the Year, the BMW X5 xDrive40e.


Most recently, we took a trip to the Windy City for the Chicago Auto Show, where SUVs and special edition vehicles reigned supreme. Our first prize winner was our friend Brian, who noticed steel’s strength was on display in many areas of the McCormick Place – not just in the vehicles.

Next stop: our northern neighbors host the 2017 Canadian Auto Show in Toronto. Are you going? If so, follow along using #SteelMatters – we’re holding a contest for our prize during both media days (February 16-17) and public days (February 17-26). Check out the details here:


If you’re looking for cool shots of your house, a 360-degree view of your car or the best seat at every Little League game, this contest is perfect for you. Drones are a LOT of fun to use for both work and play – they’re also inspiring students to get into STEM careers!

We can’t wait to see what piques your interest in today’s auto industry, and are looking forward to continuing to share how steel is accelerating innovation.

Excited about our new prize? Want to know if we’ll be at your event? Leave us a comment, and let’s chat!

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Let’s Get Sustainable with the 2017 Green Car Awards

Cars, trucks and SUVs are an integral part of the American fabric. Most people see them as an extension of themselves. So as Americans begin to make personal changes to become more environmentally conscious, they expect their vehicles to do the same. Though the “green movement” has been around for a while, automotive MPG has been under a microscope ever since the EPA outlined its “54.5 by 2025” regulations. The automotive industry reacted quickly, with an increased focus on how their products impact the environment and the materials they use to build their vehicles.

The Green Car Awards, given out annually at the Washington Auto Show by Green Car Journal, recognize the efforts of the automotive industry to create sustainable, environmentally-sound vehicles. As a sponsor of the 2017 Washington Auto Show, SMDI was able to get an up-close and personal look at the award-winning vehicles.

One question we had as the award ceremony drew near: what role will advanced high-strength steel play in the material makeup of the winning vehicles? We know from the North American International Auto Show automakers win with steel. We also know materials play an important part in the greenhouse gas emissions of each vehicle, especially when a vehicle’s complete lifecycle is taken into account.

Today’s automotive technologies continue to dazzle us, especially regarding autonomy and vehicle communication systems. Steel innovation has seen an equally meteoric rise, with the number of steel grades available today. The best part? Both electronic and steel technologies promise to innovate even further in the future. It’s a great time to be in the automotive and steel industries!

Three awards were handed out by Green Car Journal: Connected Green Car of the Year, Luxury Green Car of the Year and Green SUV of the Year. The winners are as follows:

Connected Green Car of the Year – Mercedes-Benz C350e


The Mercedes-Benz C350e uses a variety of materials to reduce weight and increase MPG, the most notable of which is advanced high-strength steel.

Luxury Green Car of the Year – Acura NSX


The sleek-looking NSX supercar added advanced high-strength steel to its A-pillars for extra fortification.

Green SUV of the Year – BMW X5 xDrive40e


The BMW X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid uses multiple grades of advanced high-strength steel in many different areas of the vehicle to ensure its occupants are protected.

Three deserving winners, wouldn’t you say so? All three vehicles use advanced high-strength steel in various capacities to reduce weight and increase strength and performance. Advanced high-strength steels help reduce the total greenhouse gas emissions of these vehicles.

What do you think of the winners? Like them? Thought another vehicle should have won? We’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments!

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SMDI Honors Steel Innovators with 3rd Annual Men and Women of Steel Awards

The vehicles we drive each day are created using steel, and the steel industry’s goal is to aid its customers in achieving the highest value and performance in their products. The men and women within the industry exemplify this with their innovative applications and work with steel.

Starting in 2015, SMDI has annually recognized leaders in the industry who are accelerating innovation by conferring the “Men and Women of Steel” awards at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The Men and Women of Steel awards include the Industry Innovator Award, which recognizes automotive designers or engineers who showcase superior innovation in their use of advanced high-strength steel (AHSS), and the Community Hero Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations whose work using steel impacts the quality of life of the community.


On Jan. 10, 2017, at SMDI’s press conference during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, two professionals were honored for their work promoting the use of advanced high-strength steel.

You can watch a live version of the press conference here:

The Industry Innovator Award was presented to Gregory Warden, executive director and global functional leader, body, exterior & dimensional engineering at General Motors (GM). Thanks to leaders like Mr. Warden and companies like GM, advanced high-strength steel’s growth has exceeded forecasts and will continue to do so.

Jody Hall with Gregory Warden

Jody Hall with Gregory Warden



The Community Hero Award was presented to Steve Marks, industry technical support manager at Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR). His work includes conducting research on collision repair and OEM training and development. He is also a lead instructor for repair certification programs. Marks educates the next generation of technicians about the repair processes for steel, which have been widely taught for many years. As new steel grades are produced, Marks aids in the redevelopment of the repair process making sure it is as advanced as the new steels.

Steve Marks with Jody Hall

Steve Marks with Jody Hall


Greg and Steve are two people who demonstrate the value of steel in their daily work with the industry and inspire others to accelerate innovation by exploring the use of AHSS in new applications.


Tom Gibson, AISI, Jody Hall, SMDI, Steve Marks, I-CAR, Gregory Warden, General Motors, Larry Kavanagh, SMDI, and Roger Newport, AK Steel

Congratulations to this year’s winners! If there are people in your community you feel are deserving of  these awards, leave a comment sharing their story.

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STEELing the Show: The 2017 North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year

Advancements in steel are continuing to accelerate innovation and help vehicles across all categories pull in leading automotive industry awards, advancing occupant protection, performance and value to both the industry and its customers. Riding into first place for the 2017 North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards – announced during the first Press Preview Day of the North American International Auto Show – are the Chevrolet Bolt, Honda Ridgeline and Chrysler Pacifica.

Car of the Year: Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt

The Chevrolet Bolt, named the 2017 North American Car of the Year, goes the distance. From its high-strength steel frame to the advanced electric motor technology under the hood, the Bolt is built with sustainability in mind to help you get from point A to point B efficiently and safely. The Bolt was also recently named Motor Trend’s 2017 Car of the Year.

Truck of the Year: Honda Ridgeline

In addition to the vehicles on the show floor, the steel structures for the Ridgeline and Pacifica are also featured in the Steel Market Development Institute exhibit space during NAIAS Press & Industry Preview Days.

The Honda Ridgeline’s modern, rugged and aerodynamic body – featuring a broad array of advanced materials – makes it a stand out as the 2017 North American Truck of the Year. Whether you’re towing a camper trailer for a weekend getaway or tackling a DIY backyard project, the Ridgeline is all about optimizing performance using a variety of steels to strengthen and increase rigidity of its body construction for a lighter weight vehicle with a better overall driving experience.

Utility Vehicle of the Year: Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica

The Chrysler Pacifica took home this year’s first ever North American Utility Vehicle of the Year title. The Pacifica’s popularity has quickly grown as a favorite for families and those constantly on the go. Its extensive use of thin-gauged high-strength steels helped the Pacifica achieve strength and durability without sacrificing space. Its body structure, constructed of 72 percent high-strength steel, also helped the vehicle earn a 5-star safety rating from the U.S. National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), giving families peace of mind that their precious cargo will be protected.

The use of high-strength steels in the structures of all three winners this year, proves the fundamental role steel continues to play in the automotive industry in Detroit and across America in efforts to improve vehicle strength and performance. Each year, vehicles eligible for the 2017 NACTOY awards are judged by a group of nearly 60 automotive journalists from across the U.S. and Canada. Vehicles are honored for excellence in innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and more. This year, marks the first Utility Vehicle of the Year category, nodding to the growing demand for SUVs in markets around North America.

What do you think of this year’s winners? Tell us your thoughts and your vote for the top car, truck and utility vehicle of the year in the comments below.

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Accelerating Innovation at the North American International Auto Show

The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) invites you to Detroit as we once again sponsor the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). This auto show season will be full of great new reveals, some of which we are anticipating here. One thing we know for sure is the next big thing in automotive has a very familiar name!

As you walk the floor at this year’s event something will become very clear: cars, trucks and SUVs depend on advanced high-strength steel (AHSS). In fact, AHSS is not only proven and trusted, it’s the fastest growing automotive material for four years running. AHSS delivers exactly what consumers and automakers need. No other material matches its performance, value and sustainability. Since the 1970’s, the number of automotive steel grades has grown from a few to more than 200 – and it’s not stopping there.


Accelerating innovation in the automotive industry, steel leads the way in performance as a result of its superior strength, lightweighting, durability and repairability. Today’s steels are as much as six times stronger than steels of a decade ago and three to four times stronger than the latest aluminum alloys on the market. Combining AHSS with evolving manufacturing processes enables engineers to apply thinner steels to produce lighter-weight parts, while maintaining or improving structural performance.


The repair industry infrastructure is steel-centric and is able to adapt shops, tools and train technicians to repair steel-intensive vehicles faster and at higher value than vehicles produced with alternative materials. What this means for the consumer is lower cost of ownership.

Additionally, steel enables aggressive exterior styling cues with its outstanding formability and enhances interior spaciousness with smaller structural sections.


Steel has the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions making it the sustainable choice for automakers.  Compared to making steel, greenhouse gas emissions from making aluminum are significant and at least four times greater, even when aluminum is produced using mostly hydropower and substantially higher when aluminum is produced using fossil fuel-sourced electricity. It is critical to look beyond tailpipe emissions, and instead consider the full life cycle emissions of vehicles, specifically the emissions from materials production.

At the end of a vehicle’s life, steel still beats aluminum. Its physical properties allow products to be continuously recycled into any other steel products without loss of quality, saving vital resources for future generations.

So as you walk through the show floor at this year’s auto show, remember – only one material is Accelerating Innovation through increased performance, value and sustainability. You can follow the steel story during NAIAS on Twitter via #SteelMatters.

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