Sustainability and Steel: How Automakers Can Use Steel to Improve Emissions

This is a guest post courtesy of Blake Zuidema, Director, Automotive Product Applications, ArcelorMittal

Today’s car buyers are savvier than ever. When making a purchasing decision, affordability and reliability have always been top decision factors. However, one factor that has become increasingly important, and widely debated, is the impact a car will have on the environment.

When driven, a car emits carbon dioxide (CO2) gases that add to pollution. The heavier the car, the more harmful gases it emits. As a result, automakers are doing their part by designing new technologies to lighten their vehicles, therefore decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The emissions produced when consumers drive a car are just one part of the equation. To fully understand the carbon footprint of a vehicle, one must consider a vehicle’s full life cycle, which includes the manufacturing, driving and recycling of the vehicle.

Automotive life cycle analyses have found steel is the most sustainable automotive material, and steel-intensive vehicles result in lower GHG emissions than vehicles utilizing alternative materials. Steel manufacturing uses less energy and emits fewer CO2 gases per ton than alternative materials. In addition, the material’s infinite recyclability and mature recycling infrastructure significantly add to its sustainability. While other materials may result in a lighter-weight design, overall they increase the total carbon footprint of a vehicle.

V141217-Life Cycle Assessment

ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel producer, developed a concept for automakers to demonstrate the benefits of steel in creating a lighter, safer and more environmentally friendly vehicle. This project, “S-in Motion®,” is a catalogue of commercially available steel parts and solutions available to automakers to reduce weight of both cars and trucks while maintaining crash safety. These solutions result in no cost increase to customers and help to provide more environmentally friendly vehicles for the 21st Century.

The “S” stands for more than just steel; it also stands for:

S in Motion

  • Service – These solutions were not created for future vehicles — they were designed for today’s vehicles. All S-in Motion® solutions are commercially available for vehicles currently on the road.
  • Strength – The S-in Motion® solutions never compromise the strength of steel vehicles. We applied some of the strongest steels used in today’s automotive production. The result is steel is an efficient and strong material for lightweighting and occupant protection.
  • Solutions – The concept includes various solutions for a variety of parts in a C-segment, D-segment and lightweight truck. The solutions use different steels to construct the body and parts for an overall greener vehicle.
  • Safety – The project design kept safety in mind. The concept car underwent multiple industry tests, performing above industry safety performance standards. Most test results reached or exceeded the highest test ratings.
  • Saving weight – In order to achieve maximum benefits, maximum weight reduction had to occur. Using the lightest steel solutions created by the S-in Motion® project, results show a 22 percent body-in-white weight reduction in the C-segment vehicle from the 2009 baseline and a 23 percent reduction from the 2013 pickup truck and 2015 D-segment baseline.
  • Saving costs – S-in Motion® offers a cost-neutral solution for automakers to display the high value of steel. This means the item is priced the same as the cost of producing it, allowing automakers to achieve design goals without high cost penalties associated with use of alternative materials.
  • Sustainability – Most importantly, the biggest benefit of the S-in Motion® program is its sustainability. For the C-segment vehicle, results show a 14 percent reduction of overall total lifecycle CO2 emissions, meaning each car implementing the solutions can decrease CO2 emissions by 3,856 lbs.

S in Motion 1

As consumers continue to make smarter automotive choices, it is our hope they recognize the value and sustainability of a steel car.

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One Response to Sustainability and Steel: How Automakers Can Use Steel to Improve Emissions

  1. Pingback: Let’s Get Sustainable with the 2017 Green Car Awards | Steel Matters

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