SMDI’s President, Larry Kavanagh recently spoke at this year’s Steel Success Strategies conference in New York City along with top level executives from the steel industry’s biggest companies. Insiders shared their thoughts on a number of topics including the challenges from competing materials, combating the threat of overcapacity and unfair foreign trade, how to recruit young industry workers, the economic future of the North American Steel industry and the big picture in the global industry.
Kavanagh was a featured panelist on the “Autobody Warfare: Aluminum Attack” panel along with six other panelists.
Peter Marcus, managing partner at World Steel Dynamics, served as the moderator and posed the following questions to the panel:
- Is there infinite growth for aluminum automotive sheet?
- What is the impact of smaller more fuel efficient engines?
- Will automotive companies pay a high price to save the last pound?
We’ve discussed lightweighting in a previous post here, but Larry used his presentation to dispel a few common misconceptions. In the steel versus aluminum debate it’s a myth that using aluminum is the only way to help cut weight from a vehicle. Many of the vehicles that have dropped weight this year, such as the 2016 Chevy Malibu, 2015 VW Passat, 2015 Honda Fit, 2015 Chrysler 200, 2014 Chevy Silverado, and the 2016 Honda Pilot have all noted steel as a primary contributor to that weight loss.
In particular, the steel usage in the 2015 Ford Edge contributes to a solid body structure and improved suspension and the high-strength steel usage in the 2016 Nissan Maxima helps contribute to the Maxima’s top-level safety performance.
Many automakers are starting to realize that steel is just as effective in dropping weight and can be done at higher value with better overall performance results.Collaboration between automakers and steelmakers are at an all-time high as automakers can use steel to meet their weight reduction goals. As existing and emerging grades of steel are introduced, they provide a higher value to manufacturers and present new opportunities to use steel in door and bumper designs and even suspension/chassis parts. The affordability and environmental advantages of steel vehicles makes it a win-win for both customers and automakers.
For more details on “Autobody Warfare: Aluminum Attack” panel check out the Steel Success Strategies hashtag, #sssnyc or follow us on Twitter @driveusingsteel.