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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The 6 New Vehicles We Can’t Wait to See in 2017

2017 is almost here and there’s a brand new auto show schedule to sink your teeth into. As a premier sponsor of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) for the third consecutive year, this is one of our favorite times of the year. We can’t wait to get on the show floor and see what’s new! Here are the top 6 vehicles we can’t wait to see:

1. 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL

No release date has been set, but Jeep has been working hard for the past few years to redesign the Wrangler. According to Car and Driver, we can expect the new edition to have “…a hydroformed steel ladder frame carrying a body made of high-strength steel.” Rumor has it FCA won’t announce the next-gen Wrangler until fall 2017, but in the meantime you can check out this preview of the four-door pickup, which will join the traditional Wrangler lineup.


2. 2018 Chevrolet Blazer

Automotive News recently captured some spy photos of a camouflaged Chevy test vehicle, which looks to be the new Chevrolet Blazer. The Blazer name hasn’t been used since 2005 and this current version seems to be a cross between the Acadia, Equinox and Traverse.

ar-1612099113. 2018 Nissan Frontier

This is pure speculation, but we have our fingers crossed for Nissan to redesign its mid-sized pickup, the Frontier, for 2018. Look for it along with the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado when it’s finally announced.

2017-nissan-frontier-lava-red-sand-dune-large4. 2018 Ram 1500

So far all we know is FCA discontinued production on the Chrysler 200 to make way for the Ram 1500 at its Sterling Heights, Michigan assembly plant. spied this camouflaged version of what could be the new model.

ram5. 2018 Chevy Traverse

General Motors confirmed they will debut the all-new Chevrolet Traverse on Jan. 9th at NAIAS. According to Chevrolet, the 2018 Traverse will feature “a bold and refined design with seating for up to eight passengers.” All we’ve seen is this shadowy teaser image, but we will be front row center in Detroit for the reveal!

traverse6. 2018 Honda Odyssey

Honda recently announced the unveiling of its fifth-generation Odyssey minivan at NAIAS on January 9th. Honda has completely redesigned the vehicle including the addition of “a new suite of innovative features…” We can’t wait to see what Honda has come up with. So far this teaser image is looking mighty sleek.


Are you headed to NAIAS or will you watch the debuts from afar? Tell us what vehicles you’re looking forward in 2017!

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5 Gifts for the Truck Lover in Your Life

Most people have someone in their life who they would describe as a truck lover. These people are usually just as strong and reliable as the steel their truck is made of and deserve something really nice for their truck this Christmas. We’ve put together a gift guide of the perfect presents for the special truck lover on your list this holiday season.

1. Wheel Well Cooler/Storage with Charging Ports ($230)

These divided storage chests can be used as a cooler or general storage and include ports for charging electronics and a locking mechanism.

wheel-well-cooler2. Heavy Duty Floor Mats ($50-70 per mat)

Everyone knows that truck owners work hard in all sorts of conditions. These floor mats are tough and reliable without sacrificing comfort and function.


3. Truck Bed Tent ($259.99)

Now you can convert your truck into a camper with this innovative camping tent for your truck bed.


4. Rear View Safety Back Up Camera for Towing ($276.73)

This camera allows you to see behind the trailer for easier maneuvering while towing.


5. Hinged Truck Bed Cover ($835.23)

This hard shell, durable cover lifts up and down and locks for safety and protection.


Are any of these items on your wish list this year? Or do you have anything we should add? Let us know in the comments.

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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.”


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!


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.


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


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.


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.


A post shared by Keeley Dayne Genung (@keeleygenung) 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.


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.


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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