Keeping Steel the Material of Choice in Automotive

North American automotive manufacturers produced more than 17.74 million vehicles in 2016, with forecasts calling for continued growth. Aggressive regulations enacted in 2012 require fuel economy to double by 2025 to 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg), creating intense materials competition as automakers look to make vehicles lighter to help meet the new regulations.

Advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) provide the properties automakers need to achieve their future fuel economy targets and are being rapidly adopted while our industry accelerates the development of new grades with even higher strength and formability.

The Steel Market Development Institute leads aggressive projects with our customers on optimal use of these materials to maximize the steel content in new vehicles as quickly as possible. AHSS, combined with innovative auto manufacturing methods like tailor rolling and tailor welding, enables steel to achieve weight reduction levels nearly equivalent to those of alternative materials and at a higher value than alternative materials.

The goal of the SMDI automotive program is to keep steel the material of choice in body and chassis applications through its advantages in performance, mass reduction, sustainability and value. 

Automotive Communications Program

The truck and SUV segment of the automotive market is where materials competition is most intense as higher levels of weight reduction are needed to meet new fuel economy targets by 2025. Early in 2014, SMDI launched an enhanced automotive communications program highlighting the strength, durability, sustainability and mass reduction possible with AHSS. The program is aimed at materials decision makers and influencers, as well as national and trade media, and includes regional advertising, customer marketing activities and social media outreach.

Exhibit hall at Great Designs in Steel 2017.

Since the program’s launch, the strategies have helped maintain steel’s position as the automotive material of choice while strengthening SMDI’s relationship with the automotive industry, media and consumers nationally and within SMDI’s target markets. Steel Matters: Demand Nothing Less reminds audiences of the role AHSS plays in the automotive industry’s efforts to meet federally mandated fuel economy emissions and safety standards in the coming years. The program’s main objective continues to be positioning AHSS as the highest-value material and the benchmark customers and consumers should use to measure other lightweighting choices.

SMDI has established a robust presence at key events drawing in customer and consumer audiences through advertising, media relations, speaking opportunities and social media. For the foreseeable future, SMDI will continue to expand our target auto shows and media-focused events across these regions with a strong focus on life cycle assessment and sustainability.