Members of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) gathered at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, ON last week to talk shop, drive Canada’s best new vehicles for 2017 and vote for the 2017 Canadian Car of the Year awards. The journalists put the vehicles through their paces on the track, off road and on road to complete their assessments. Our team was on site with event sponsor, The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) talking about a common denominator f...

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Paul Schurter, Global Technology Manager, Automotive Product Applications, delivered remarks over lunch on Thursday, October 27. He talked about the advancements in steel grades, the application of steel in the vehicle frame and how it helps aid in occupant protection in the event of a crash and how it is easier to repair than vehicles made with alternative materials. “All these things aid in the performance, value and sustainability of steel,” Paul says.

In 1970, there were 7 grades of steel. Today, there are more than 200, with Advanced High Strength Steels being the fastest growing material in a vehicle. “There are hundreds of steel parts on the vehicle and they all do a different job. To get the best performance and best mass reduction, it’s useful to have all these grades,” Paul says.

Steel is continuing to reinvent itself, with the development of third-generation advanced high-strength steels. This class of steel grades combines the strength of advanced and ultra high-strength steels with enhanced formability, further increasing design flexibility. We’re starting to see some of these third-generation grades in today’s cars and trucks.

Steel is also the most sustainable choice. “When we talk about sustainability, it’s more than just fuel economy,” Paul says. “The current focus of fuel efficiency regulations is on tailpipe emissions, but the production process and disposal of a car or truck can account for a significant portion of overall vehicle life cycle emissions. We need to look at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by evaluating the life cycle of the vehicle – production, driving and recycling.”

In North America, steel has four to five times less CO2 emissions than aluminum during the production phase. Steel also offers lightweighting capabilities in the drive phase. When you apply steel to the vehicle, it supports about 25% mass reduction, helping improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gasses.

Steel is also easily recycled. It’s very easy to separate from other materials in the vehicle because it’s magnetic. Unlike alternative materials, there is an abundant amount of recycled steel – approximately more than 80 million tons per year – available to manufacture new steel products. In addition, steel can be infinitely re-melted into any steel grade without losing strength while other metals must be sorted by grade for re-melting to achieve the same properties.

“No other material has improved its fundamental performance characteristics for automotive applications like steel … and we’re not done by a long shot,” Paul says.

Learn more about ArcelorMittal Automotive Steels

Learn more about SMDI

Learn more about AJAC and the Canadian Car of the Year Awards