Shaping the Automotive Industry – Many Women at a Time

As an important part of the global economy, many people look to the automotive industry as a trendsetter in the worldwide workplace. With women like Mary Barra paving the way, it’s refreshing to see so many female faces making their way into leadership roles within the automotive industry.

Historically, the automotive and steel industries have been male-dominated. 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. Once the war was over, many of those women left their jobs. However, some stayed in the workplace and the idea of women working alongside men began to gain acceptance.

Fast-forward to today, women are rubbing elbows with men whether it’s in management, distribution or factories more than ever. Women were once again celebrated at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show’s second-annual What Drives Her networking luncheon and panel discussion, presented by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Scotty Reiss, founder of A Girls Guide to Cars, kicked off a two-part panel discussion featuring Cars.com Editor-in-Chief, Jennifer Newman; Facebook’s Industry Manager, Auto Team, Kim Stonehouse; Ford’s Mini and Medium Utility Marketing Manager, Cristina Aquino; and Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) Vice President, Automotive Market, Dr. Jody Hall.

Panelists touched on the importance of women holding leadership positions, the increasing role women play in shaping the industry and women leading the charge to close gender and inequality gaps in business and everyday life.

Watch the full panel discussion on Facebook live.

During the panel discussion, Jody Hall shared she spent 30 years working in the automotive industry and has faced many obstacles influencing her career. During this time, she witnessed the evolution of women leading companies and serving in leadership roles. In her current role as vice president of the automotive market for the SMDI, Jody continues to influence and empower young women in the automotive and steel industries.

According to statistics presented by moderator Scotty Reiss from A Girls Guide to Cars:

  • Women buy or influence the purchase of 85% of all cars, yet they hold only about 27% of all the jobs in the auto industry;
  • Women who work in auto businesses have an 80% job turnover rate and most of that happens in the first month on the job; and,
  • Women hold more drivers’ licenses and master’s degrees than men.

Thus, it’s no surprise there are thousands of women impacting today’s automotive and steel industries, showcasing their ability to balancing work and continue to support their communities and family.

Do you know any women who are making an impact in the steel and/or automotive industries? Why are these women inspirational to you? Leave us a comment below.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Cycle Assessment: Tailpipe-only Standards Can Result in Unintended Consequences

When we focus only on tailpipe emissions, this results in unintended consequences of increased total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at a higher cost to consumers. Fortunately, steel offers the best solution for the environment, the best performance for automakers, and the best value for consumers.

So, where’s your proof?

The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) announced during their 2018 Chicago Auto Show press conference, the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) completed a peer-reviewed life cycle assessment (LCA) study demonstrating the importance of material production emissions toward a vehicle’s lifetime environmental impact. The study, “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas and Energy Study of Automotive Lightweighting,” examines the overall environmental impact of vehicle lightweighting using advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) compared with aluminum.

The LCA study of five different vehicles represents one third of the annual vehicle production volume. This study went through a stringent 10-month review and validation by a panel of environmental experts from Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Argonne National Lab and thinkstep – an independent LCA consulting firm. The expert’s approval of the study makes it not only conformant with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards for LCA studies, but also the most comprehensive and rigorous automotive materials study.

It concludes AHSS-intensive vehicles had lower or equivalent life cycle emissions than aluminum-intensive vehicles for every class of vehicles tested – sedans, trucks, SUVs and alternative power train vehicles. The increase comes primarily from the difference between the material production phase emissions of AHSS and aluminum. These production emissions are not counted when focusing only on tailpipe emissions under current EPA regulations.

Emissions occur at the start of vehicle production including material processing, and continue through the entire vehicle life cycle. The dramatic increase in material production emissions for vehicles lightweighted with aluminum instead of AHSS is never offset by emissions reduction benefits during the vehicle’s useful lifetime – the approximately 10 to 12 years it’s driven.

What are some key findings of the study?

  • AHSS-intensive vehicles had lower or equivalent total life cycle GHG emissions than aluminum-intensive vehicles for every class of vehicle tested.
  • The use of aluminum instead of AHSS to lightweight the vehicle body structure and closures resulted in a significant increase in materials production GHG emissions and energy consumption for every scenario. These emissions occur at the start of (and remain in the atmosphere throughout) the vehicle life cycle.
  • In many cases, the dramatic increase in materials production emissions for vehicles lightweighted with aluminum instead of AHSS is never offset by emissions reduction benefits during the vehicles useful lifetime.

So, why is it better to lightweight with AHSS over aluminum?

If you lightweighted all five vehicles in this study to aluminum instead of AHSS, the life cycle GHG emissions increase is estimated at 12 million tons, which equals:

  • Emissions from electricity used to power 1.6 million homes
  • 2 billion gallons of gasoline
  • 7 billion miles driven by an average passenger vehicle
  • 2,757 wind turbines running for an entire year

These representations are effective examples of how focusing on one discrete area (the tailpipe) can lead to the unintended consequences of increased GHG emissions. View the infographic here.

What does this mean to me as a consumer?

If automakers are forced to lightweight with materials other than steel to achieve small increases in fuel economy – in the case of these five vehicles, equal to or less than ½ mile per gallon (mpg) – it will cost the consumer hundreds of dollars more in the purchase price of that vehicle.

Based on material cost differences only, it is estimated consumers will pay between $600 and $1,200 more depending on vehicle size. All of this for only about ½ mpg improvement or around 4 gallons of gasoline per year. And this cost does not include other costs of ownership such as insurance and repair which increases with the purchase price of a vehicle.

With that in mind, you must question: Do you really want to pay more for a vehicle that may not be helping the environment? For you, the consumer, steel-intensive vehicles give you the highest value in your total cost of ownership.

What does this mean for the environment?

Lightweighting with steel yields the lowest greenhouse gas emissions compared to other materials, not only in material production, but also in the total vehicle life cycle. This makes it the environmentally sound choice for automakers.

Have questions?

Leave them in the comments below and we’ll be happy to answer them for you! Also, download our infographic highlighting greenhouse gases emissions when lightweighting with AHSS in comparison to aluminum. Read the full report here.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Honda Odyssey Takes Home Family Vehicle of the Year Award at Chicago Auto Show

The 2018 Honda Odyssey was recognized as the Family Vehicle of the Year award by the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) during the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.

 

 

 

 

MAMA developed the award to help car-shopping families make a wise decision when they’re ready for a new vehicle. To qualify for the award, vehicles had to have four doors, start at less than $50,000, appear at one of MAMA’s two annual rallies, and be new or significantly updated within a year of the MAMA Spring Rally, which took place last May.

The fifth generation Odyssey is an extension of Honda’s next generation ACETM body structure as applied to the global light truck platform delivering best-in-class performance and driving dynamics.

Steel makes up 99 percent of the Odyssey’s overall body structure, including 58 percent high-strength steel and advanced high-strength steel. The application of advanced steels contributes to the 75 pound reduction in vehicle weight while increasing torsional rigidity by 44 percent compared to the previous model.

High-strength steel and advanced high-strength steel are used in the Odyssey’s A, B and C pillars, roof rails, front and rear rails, and front subframe, allowing the vehicle’s cabin structure to better manage front, side, roof and rear collisions. Thus, the Odyssey has been award a 5-star safety rating from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Congrats to Honda on this honorable recognition! Share your congratulations in the comments below.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SMDI Honors Men and Women of Steel at North American International Auto Show

Without the dedicated men and women within the automotive and steel industries, the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) would not be able to continue to drive automotive innovation.

For the fourth year in a row, SMDI recognized two outstanding leaders in the industry who are accelerating innovation with the “Men and Women of Steel” awards at the 2018 North American International Auto Show. The Industry Innovator award honors an automotive designer or engineer who showcases superior capability/innovation in the application of advanced high-strength steel (AHSS). The Community Hero award recognizes local men and women of steel whose lives have been impacted by AHSS or who have used AHSS in a heroic way to help other people.

The Industry Innovator Award was presented to Jack Dolan, FCA US LLC, as result of his work with the steel industry on innovative AHSS solutions on future FCA vehicles. Jack’s dedication to innovation in steel helped reach weight reduction goals in various projects and he continues to lead the FCA team in collaborative, state-of-the-art solutions.

The Community Hero Award was presented to Dr. Don Malen, University of Michigan, for his recent work as a professor at the University of Michigan where he teaches automotive structure design. He continues to work closely with the steel industry, including projects with WorldAutoSteel and A2Mac1.

Join us in the comments below in congratulating Jack and Don for all their hardwork in continuing to accelerate automotive innovation through steel applications.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year Celebrate Steel’s Innovation

Media Days kicked off with a bang during the 2018 North American International Auto Show. Often referred to as the “Oscars of the Auto Industry,” the announcement of the 2018 North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year Awards were just that. These highly-coveted awards recognize excellence in innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, drive satisfaction and value. These factors fall in line with steel’s characteristics of strength, lightweighting, value and performance.

The Honda Accord won the 2018 North American Car of the Year, while the Lincoln Navigator was crowned Truck of the Year and the Volvo XC60 was named top utility vehicle of the year.

Car of the Year: Honda Accord

Honda raised the bar with its 2018 Accord, moving away from its conventional appearance. Known for its reliability, the Accord is composed of 29 percent ultra high-strength steel content and 54.2 percent is high-strength steel (above 440 MPa).This marks the third year in a row for Honda to win an award in one of these categories, with the Honda Civic winning Car of the Year in 2016 and the Honda Ridgeline winning Truck of the Year in 2017.

Truck of the Year: Lincoln Navigator

The all-new Navigator, Lincoln’s flagship SUV, combines modern luxury with advanced technology. The SUV was completely redesigned from the ground up last year for the first time in a decade. With its full-boxed, high-strength steel frame, the Navigator moves confidently on the road. This award marks the first time a Lincoln vehicle has captured one of these prestigious awards.

Utility Vehicle of the Year: Volvo XC60

The Volvo XC60 prevailed as a result of its design, safety and driver-assistance features. The already well-liked midsize SUV was redesigned, offering Volvo’s distinct brand of luxury with a wider appeal. Well-equipped, the Volvo XC60 continues its legacy of using advanced high-strength steel within the vehicle.

Please join us in congratulating this year’s award winners by sharing your thoughts below.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steel & Autonomous Driving – The Perfect Pair

It’s almost impossible to visit an automotive news site without seeing an article about autonomous vehicles. Automakers and industry influencers have made it clear autonomy is the direction every OEM and technology company is racing toward.

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), autonomous vehicles are defined as cars operating in self-driving mode, without direct driver input or monitoring to control the steering, acceleration and breaking. Without physical drivers, these vehicles need another form of communication with their surroundings.

Technology and Occupant Protection

Enter sensors – the technology being used by connected vehicles to understand their environment, including other vehicles and infrastructure they must interact with.

The average cost of vehicles currently on the roads is up 57 percent from 20 years ago. Unfortunately, these added sensors are expected to raise vehicle costs even higher. All of this added precious cargo needs the same protection as the precious human cargo riding inside (see more about protecting occupants with steel in this blog post). With vehicle prices already high, and sensors making them even more costly, it’s imperative the technology and the passengers get the best protection for the greatest value. The solution? Steel!

57 percent increase

To counteract the large investment in sensors and batteries, lightweighting with advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) provides the greatest value for the automaker, which in turn cuts costs for the consumer, without cutting strength and a sense of security. Steel has an impressively high value compared to alternative materials making it the easy choice when it comes to the best protection while offsetting the price of additional sensors and batteries for autonomous vehicles.

The transition to an autonomous world will not happen overnight and the risk of accidents and crashes will never disappear completely. Mother Nature is unpredictable and even in a fully autonomous world, we can’t forget about animals darting in front of autonomous vehicles that cannot stop in time or a storm sending branches and other debris flying onto these cars. With such a wide variety of AHSS grades, automakers will continue to choose the right grade for the right application to provide excellent occupant protection in any situation Mother Nature throws our way.

Vehicle Design

The average vehicle on the road today is made up of about 50 percent steel. Although it’s not clear just yet what these new autonomous vehicles will look like, it’s likely they’ll remain steel-intensive. Whether these fancy new rides look more like spaceships than vehicles or they stick to the classic designs we have today, the new generations of AHSS are formable without sacrificing strength. New generations of AHSS, including twinning-induced plasticity (TWIP), are extremely strong yet also formable allowing automakers to reduce mass for the difficult-to-form parts of futuristic vehicles. With more than 200 grades of steel available, there is sure to be a grade perfect for every application, now and in the future.

Along with the futuristic exterior of autonomous vehicles come new and improved interiors as well. It’s expected since we no longer need to rely on a human driver our vehicles will become more like our family rooms, a place to gather, get work done or take a nap. The seats may all face toward the center of the car, recline into beds or transform in a completely different way like the Mercedes-Benz F015 Autonomous Concept. These changes will affect the way we enter and exit the vehicle, eliminating the center pillar between the doors, resulting in the need for more structural steel for added strength in the surrounding areas.

Mercedes Benz Concept

The underpinnings, including the chassis and suspensions systems, of most vehicles are currently comprised of steel to provide an excellent, smooth ride and handling experience. Our existing road system is littered with pot holes, construction zones and other hazards, which will not be eliminated by the time autonomous vehicles hit the road and become main stream. Without a high-strength steel base and structure, these nice, new autonomous vehicles won’t be able to provide a smooth ride on our current roads.

The future of driving may not actually be driving. Steel is innovating to become the solution to challenges arising from autonomous driving. With steel, passengers can rest assured they’re safe from whatever new dangers come about and any design chosen by engineers can become reality. While autonomous driving comes at a cost, steel continues to provide the greatest value while offering the best protection for new technology and, of course, the vehicle occupants.

Generic Electric Vehicle

What do you want to see in autonomous vehicles? Let us know in the comments!

 

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Honda Clarity Series Recognized as Green Car Journal’s 2018 Green Car of the Year Award

Congratulations are in order for the Honda Clarity series! On Nov. 30 during the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Honda Clarity series, comprised of the 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, 2017 Clarity Electric and 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell, was awarded the Green Car Journal’s 2018 Green Car of the Year award.

Honda Clarity

The 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid arrived at dealerships on Dec. 1, while the 2017 Clarity Electric and 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell are available in select markets.

The 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle’s platform is comprised of 40 percent of high-strength steel, utilizing high-formability 980 MPa-class steel for automotive application. Thanks to these efforts, Clarity has a next-generation steel body absorbing more impact, yet is approximately 15 percent lighter than a traditional mid-size sedan. Its rigid body also leads to greater handling stability.

Green Car Journal has been honoring the most important “green” vehicles every year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and now AutoMobility LA, since its inaugural award was announced in 2005. The award is a reflection of the automotive industry’s expanding efforts in offering new vehicles with higher efficiency and improved environmental impact.

Green Car Journal Logo

Did you know celebrity auto enthusiast Jay Leno is part of the esteemed jury who selects the Green Car of the Year, in addition to leaders of noted environment and efficiency organizations and Green Car Journal editors? Together, they select the winner through a majority vote, taking into account efficiency, performance characteristics, ‘newness’, affordability and overall environmental achievement.

Congrats again to Honda on this prestigious recognition! Share your congratulations in the comments below.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bigger Than the Bin: Auto Recycling is Driven by Steel

It’s no small irony that one of the most recycled products in the world is too big for the recycling bin. Yet, each year nearly every car taken off the road is recycled for its steel content. In fact, the very roots of automobile recycling lie in the steel industry’s need for ferrous scrap.

Steel is most frequently the material of choice for vehicle manufacturing, as it is strong, durable, affordable and sustainable. As our nation’s fleet of vehicles grew, manufacturers and scrap processors alike came to realize the additional benefits of steel’s infinite recyclability. In the United States, each year around 14 million tons of steel is recycled from automobiles. Because of the economic and environmental benefits of recycling automotive steel, vehicles are too valuable of a resource to simply bury in a landfill when they are no longer in service.

Realizing the importance of end-of-life scenarios for a giant fleet of automobiles, car manufacturers are designing their vehicles with a long-term view of how the components can be refurbished, reused or recycled. And when these vehicles are made from steel, the car is both made with recycled content and is recyclable at the end of its use. Steel scrap is part of the process in making new steel.  As a result, automakers have been using recycled material to make new cars for decades.

Autos003

How much recycled material? Over half of an automobile is made of steel and iron, and all of these steel car parts contain a minimum of 25 percent recycled steel. However, many internal steel and iron parts such as engine blocks are made using an even higher percentage of recycled steel.

The steel industry has also made great strides in the production of steel to minimize the environmental impact, and has designed new lighter, stronger steels to increase vehicle safety and fuel economy.

How do cars become steel scrap?

The steel industry, together with the scrap processing industry, is responsible for laying the groundwork for the efficient recycling infrastructure for automobiles that exists today. In an effort to provide more steel scrap to the growing steel industry and reduce the vehicle’s end-of-life impact on the environment, the two industries worked collectively in the early 1960s to develop the first automobile shredders. Today, a network of dismantlers and shredders effectively process the millions of vehicles taken off the road each year.

Automobile Dismantlers

Automobiles begin their end-of-life journey with a brief but essential stop at one of the estimated 7,000 automobile dismantlers in North America. Auto dismantlers remove potentially hazardous materials and salvage selected components. Selected items such as engines and transmissions, as well as other auto parts in relatively good condition, are resold to the public or auto repair garages and body shops.

Even a car in the very worst shape may still contain some valuable working parts that can be used to repair other vehicles. These car dismantlers remove tires, batteries, fluids and any reusable parts. Selected items such as engines and transmissions, as well as other auto parts in relatively good condition, are resold to the public or auto repair garages and body shops. After removing reusable components, auto hulks are flattened and shipped to a scrap processor, where they are weighed for payment and unloaded.

Scrap Processors

After removing reusable components, auto hulks are flattened and shipped to a scrap processor, where they are weighed for payment and unloaded. Ferrous scrap processors provide an invaluable service to the steel industry by preparing automobiles, appliances, cans and other types of steel scrap for consumption by steel mills. The scrap recycling industry closes the loop in the manufacturing supply chain and represents a key component in creating a circular economy.

The Shredder

At a ferrous scrap yard, the shredder is the primary piece of equipment for preparing automobile hulks for recycling. Shredding a car breaks it down into its basic materials so they may be separated for recycling. In addition, steel mills prefer shredded steel scrap because it can be handled and melted in its furnaces more efficiently. While cars are the commodities most often fed to a shredder, appliances, bicycles and other steel products are also shredded for recycling.

shredder

There are more than 350 scrap yards in North America equipped with automobile shredders, with the large majority found in the United States. Generally, an automobile shredder consists of a sprawling network of conveyors and a large, rectangular central unit, which houses the actual shredding equipment.

Steel components, which comprise the majority of the automobile, are magnetically separated and eventually discharged from the conveyor to form large piles of shredded steel scrap. Nonferrous metals are hand-sorted from a conveyor belt and shipped to their appropriate end markets.

The remaining, less-recyclable materials, often referred to as fluff, consist of bits of plastic, rubber, fabric and glass, and makes up approximately 25 percent of a vehicle’s waste.

These materials are currently landfilled, although experiments on potential uses, including pyrolysis, particle recycling and energy recovery are underway. About 3 million tons of fluff are landfilled each year.

STEEL RECYCLING

Steel scrap is the single largest ingredient, raw materials or otherwise, needed to make new steel. Increases in technology continue to push the steel industry’s capacity to recycle steel to even greater levels.

Like any other raw material, steel scrap has true economic value. As a result, it is collected and prepared for recycling from a variety of sources for its market value as well as for the energy savings and natural resource conservation it provides to the steel industry.

Automobile recycling provides a steady steam of high-quality steel scrap needed to make new steel. The auto shred is baled and sold to steel mills to meet this demand. There, the shredded steel is combined with other steel scrap to produce new steel. The whole process is an excellent example of how economics can drive recycling.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

Several environmental benefits are realized from the steel industry’s demand for automobile scrap. For the steel industry, using recycled steel to make new steel means saving energy and natural resources.

Recycling a single car conserves more than 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. In addition, a single recycled car reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 8,800 pounds — the equivalent of 450 gallons of gasoline. Through recycling, the steel industry annually saves the equivalent energy to electrically power about 18 million households a year.

AutoPoster

Jim Woods is the Sr. Director of Sustainability Communications for the American Iron and Steel Institute. For more information on the recycling and benefits of automobile recycling, visit: recycle-steel.org, or follow us on Twitter at @EnviroMetal.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CAFE Encourages Vehicles to Sip Fuel – What It Means For You

When automakers talk about improving a vehicle, fuel efficiency is always a hot topic. Some government regulations and the environmental community are driving significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the automotive industry is at the center of the conversation. So what are the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards you’re seeing in the news? What do government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have to do with them? How are current buying trends changing these conversations? And most importantly, how does all of this impact you as a consumer? Let’s take a look.

Much of the recent drive toward vehicle lightweighting has come about because of CAFE as discussed previously in our High-Strength Diet Plan post. Started in the 1970s, these standards were modernized in 2011 for 2012-2025 model year vehicles; mandating automakers achieve a combined average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg for all new vehicles sold by an automaker by the year 2025. These standards are jointly implemented by the EPA, NHTSA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) with the shared goal of creating a better environment for Americans.

pumping-gas-1631634_1920

The ultimate goal of the EPA, NTHSA and CARB’s rules is to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions through fuel efficiency, which steel-intensive vehicles have been shown to do in every phase of a vehicle’s lifecycle. So as a vehicle’s material makeup changes in light of these new regulations, it’s important to know the best-performing materials will ultimately provide the most value to drivers.

There are a couple key points of the regulations to review:

First, the vehicles counted toward CAFE standards are the ones sold by an automaker, rather than the vehicles produced. If an automaker sells all 50,000 of the pick-up trucks it makes and only 10,000 of the 50,000 electric vehicles it produces for the 2025 model year, they’re likely to miss the mandated CAFE standards.

Secondly, these laws were drafted to ensure regulations wouldn’t be too stringent in the event of a large shift in consumer preference. The regulation called for a mid-term evaluation to assess the market and automakers’ capabilities of meeting the goals for model year 2022 to 2025 vehicles. After a comment period, the EPA will make a final determination to keep or adjust its GHG standards by April 1, 2018. NHTSA will also engage in its own rulemaking to confirm or adjust the miles per gallon (mpg) standards.

So far, according to the 2016 Draft Technical Assessment Report, automakers have been quick to implement new technologies, and in some cases, the cost of implementation has been more affordable than expected. However, the market is much different than when the regulations were agreed upon. Right now, crossovers and SUVs are selling at record-high levels and in response automakers are making more of them. Passenger cars made up about two-thirds of the new vehicle market in 2012, and the CAFE regulations were updated with that market in mind. Now, trucks and SUVs are more than 60% of the market, as affordable gas, more trim options and a desire for more room has shifted buying preferences toward bigger vehicles.

Buick sedan Toyota SUV

What does this mean for consumers?

Fuel Efficiency is Here to Stay – For Every Automaker

First and foremost, this means automakers are incentivized to innovate as they squeeze as many mpg out of their vehicles as possible. Not only does this mean more fuel-efficient engines, but modern capabilities like regenerative braking, stop-start technology, electrification and hybridization, and lightweight design will continue to be a presence in the automotive industry through 2025 and beyond. To consumer’s advantage, this also will result in fewer trips to the gas station to fill up.

Materials Are Under Even More Focus

As automakers continue to look for ways to make their vehicles lighter while improving performance, a vehicle’s material makeup will be in greater focus. As buying preferences shift, automakers will keep price in mind at every stage of vehicle development. Knowing the use of multiple steel grades provides higher value to automakers, consumers can expect to see more frequent design decisions like Toyota’s move to use more high-strength steel in the redesigned Camry. This will help keep the price of their vehicle more manageable for consumers while still providing the performance their customers expect.

The steel industry is noted for accelerating innovation in the automotive industry, with advanced high-strength steel emerging as the leader in new vehicle designs. Newer grades of steel are helping to meet government regulators’ and auto buyers’ demands for better mpg and improved vehicle performance while providing the highest value.

What are your thoughts on the EPA’s regulations? What is the most clever or useful fuel-saving feature you’ve seen thus far? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day Trips: 5 Ways to Make the Most of What’s Around You

Think back to the last big trip you planned. In all likelihood, it involved scheduling time off work, saving a bit of money, making sure your vehicle was in tiptop shape and booking hotels along your route. Let’s not forget all the packing, scheduling and organizing it took the night, weeks or even months beforehand too.

Stressful, eh? It’s almost always worth it though. Big trips like these create memories that will last forever. They’re also trips you’ll take very infrequently. But there are less-stressful, less-budget-busting and less-hectic ways to make memories. Enter the day trip: going to a city or recreation area less than two hours away for fun and relaxation!

There’s a decent chance you live near one of the dozens of major population centers in North America. More people means more economic development, which generally brings interesting sights, experiences and adventures to find. However, since there are thousands of cities in North America, you’re sure to find interesting sights and attractions in every state or province even outside of state capitols and major cities! These options are much cheaper than the high-priced hotels, expensive tourist opportunities and multiple fuel fill-ups a big trip requires. Though the automotive and steel industries are working to keep more money in consumers’ pockets, both at the dealership and at the fuel pump, the unplanned expenses of a trip like this can impact what you can experience. These are mitigated by a day trip, since trips to the gas station are less frequent and the attractions will likely be cheaper.

Here are five attractions you are sure to find within a short drive of where you live!

Beaches

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states 39 percent of Americans live in a county on a shoreline. For many people, the beach is right around the corner. But for the 61 percent of Americans who do not live close to a major body of water, a trip to a great beach doesn’t require you to fly to Hawaii or Florida. A day at the lake is guaranteed fun for the family or a big group of friends and provides opportunities for swimming, relaxing and grilling!

Car on Beach

Museums

Think you’ve already visited all the fascinating museums in your area? Think again! As of 2014, there are more museums in the United States than there are McDonald’s and Starbucks – COMBINED. Museums from the Smithsonian in D.C. to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC get plenty of attention, but there’s bound to be at least one near you that piques your interest. Check out this museum finder to see what’s around you!

Festivals

From art, music and beer to cheese curds, frog legs and garlic, the incredible array of festivals in the United States proves how much people love to get together around a common interest. There’s bound to be something exciting fun happening nearly every weekend around you. Check out sites like Festivals.com to see what’s going on!

Music Festival

Breweries

Take advantage of North America’s craft beer explosion! From about 2,000 breweries in 2012 to more than 5,300 in 2017, many small towns are finding breweries to be thriving businesses and popular tourism spots. There are limitless combinations and possibilities for local brewers to provide. It’s much better than picking between the same four beers at your local watering hole.

If you choose to go this route, please drink responsibly – and keep in mind there’s no better choice than handing the keys to your designated driver to get you all home safely.

State Parks/Nature Preserves

Take in the fresh air! America’s natural beauty is truly a sight to behold and chances are you haven’t seen everything around you yet. The steel industry is working to keep the environment beautiful, both with its products and at its factories and surrounding areas. Grab a backpack and a few friends and hit the trails! There are over 6,600 state parks in the United States waiting to be explored.

state park

There are thousands of towns, each with their own people, culture, civic pride and attractions that are often overlooked throughout North America. Some of which are in your own backyard! Grab a friend, relative or significant other and create your own adventure. Find the hidden gems. Invest in a community. Make moments out of the little things. New experiences don’t have to be expensive or stressful!

Been on any day trips recently? Know of a great “hidden gem”? Leave us a comment below!

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment