Steel Industry to Help Automakers Meet Fuel Economy Standards

Industry to ramp up production of high-strength steels to help automakers meet mandate

High-strength steels could play an important role in helping the auto industry meet President Obama's proposed fuel economy standards, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) said on May 20.

AISI's Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) is accelerating its work to provide affordable advanced high-strength steel solutions for vehicle mass reduction, AISI said.

"The use of advanced high-strength steels reduces a vehicle's structural weight by as much as 25 percent and is the cleanest environmentally friendly solution for future vehicles compared to other automotive structural materials," said David Jeanes, president of the SMDI. "North American steel companies are committed to collaborating with automakers to develop vehicles that are safe and meet all environmental requirements with cost-effective, lightweight steel technologies."

Obama's new fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks raise the required industry average to 35.5 miles-per-gallon (mpg) by 2016. Under the new rules, passenger vehicles will have to meet an average 39 mpg, while light trucks will be required to meet 30 mpg.

"When it comes to reducing emissions, steel is the obvious material of choice for lightweighting, as it can reduce total life cycle CO2 emissions by up to 15% more than any other automotive material," said Ron Krupitzer, vice president automotive applications for SMDI.

Krupitzer continued, saying, "Life cycle assessment (LCA), an established method of accounting for total greenhouse gas emissions associated with products like automobiles, has become an effective tool in determining the carbon footprint of products," said Krupitzer. "LCA demonstrates steel's contribution to lower vehicle emissions through the use of highly energy-efficient AHSS coupled with steel's full recyclability at the end of the vehicle's useful life."

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