In the automotive world, the battle between steel and aluminum will be fought part by part.

At least that's the way Honda (IW 1000/29) sees it.

While Ford (IW 500/6) (F) this year decided to bring an aluminum-body 2015 F-150 pickup to market, Honda is taking a different approach in its quest to reach fuel emission standards.

Rather than commit to one material for an entire vehicle, or most of a vehicle in Ford's case with its most popular pickup, Honda prefers an amalgamation of materials.

The Japan-based automaker opts to find the right material for each part on each model of vehicle, said Robert Zum Mallen, chief engineer and technical leader of automotive body design for Honda R&D Americas, Inc.

"As we go forward for future products, we can't really describe what our intentions are there," Zum Mallen said. "Using the philosophy of picking the right material for the right place, we'll consider a number of different materials for those applications."

That's why Honda worked with ArcelorMittal (IW 1000/49) to introduce the Usibor door ring – a hot stamped, laser welded steel door ring – for the Acura MDX, which is made at Honda's facility near Birmingham, Ala.

The advanced high-strength steel door ring is not only lighter solution, but also helps improve the MDX's small offset crash performance, Honda said.

Steel: Light(Weighting) the Way

With Ford boasting a weight savings of 700 pounds on its aluminum F-150, steelmakers like ArcelorMittal are trumpeting the lightweighting abilities of advanced high-strength steel.

ArcelorMittal recently released a survey showing how an automaker can reduce the weight in the cab, box, frame and closures of a pickup by 384 pounds, or 23%, by using advanced high-strength steel with the expected improvements in powertrains.

Those weight savings, said Greg Ludkovsky, vice president of global research and development for ArcelorMittal, are enough to help automakers achieve the new 2025 fuel emission standards in the United States.