Why Steel Matters When Designing A Vehicle at Chicago Auto Show – An education on the different types of steel used in manufacturing cars and trucks.
I’m in car shopping mode. What could be a better way to see all my options but in one place at the Chicago Auto Show opening this weekend at McCormick Place. As I recalled last year’s experience, I was reminded of the design elements that intrigued me when I visited each showroom. It had me thinking about how manufacturers design and build their products.
If you think about it like baking a cake, there are ingredients required to create the best cake possible. No sacrificing quality of each component. Same idea with vehicles. You have to start with the steel. (like the flour in the cake) What I have been learning as I research this subject is that there are all different kinds of steel used in vehicles. I had the opportunity to listen to Steel Market Development Institute Executive, Jody Hall, who provided an education on steel’s use when it comes to vehicles.
The Safety Benefit
When you look at graphics that show where the strongest steel is placed in the structure, it makes sense. Logically, having it surrounding the driver’s seat, roof of the car and door frame is what we would want in our vehicles to keep us safe in the event of an accident. The strength that the steel can handle upon impact. That’s the performance factor.
More than 200 steel grades, including advanced high-strength steels (AHSS), allow automakers to use the right grade in the right place for the best protection. Interestingly, combining AHSS with new vehicle designs will help produce lighter weight parts while maintaining or improving structural performance. The additional benefit here is the ability to achieve fuel economy savings.
But there is more to it then that. You want to consider the value and sustainability of the steel. The cost of steel is actually considerably less expensive than aluminum (like two to three times less expensive than aluminum!). Using steel also helps when it comes to repair and insurance costs. That’s a good thing for me as a consumer when it comes to purchasing a car.
Steels Impact on the Environment
As I walked the show and even thought about the number of eco friendly vehicles we see on the streets now, the concept of sustainability has become a key influencer. Here are a few things I learned about steel:
- Steel is recycled more than all other materials combined. Since it’s magnetic, commercial machines can easily identify it in scrap yards.
- Steel has the lowest production phase greenhouse gas emissions compared to alternative materials making it the environmentally sound choice for automakers.
- Now there are more than 200 grades of steel, allowing automakers to use the right grade in the right application to maximize performance.
Going to the Chicago Auto Show is a fun and educational experience. Everyone who attends notices something different. But in the end, it’s your experience that counts. While design will always be important to me, safety is key. Why steel matters is so much clearer to me now. What do you want to see at the Chicago Auto Show?
The Chicago Auto Show will be at McCormick Place from February 10 – 18. For more details, please see here.
This is a sponsored post for the Chicago Auto Show and the Steel Market Development Institute.