High strength, low alloy (HSLA) steels for cost-effective automotive lightweighting

High strength, low alloy steels are a cost-effective choice for increasing strength-to-weight ratios when compared to conventional mild carbon steels. HSLA steels also have excellent bendability and weldability and can increase the strength and/or decrease the weight for a variety of body-in-white and chassis automotive components, including suspensions, beams, and subframes.

    HSLA basics

    HSLA steels have yield strengths greater than 275 MPa (40 ksi) and are typically 20% to 30% lighter than carbon steel at the same strength levels. They are different than other advanced high strength steels (AHSS) as they are named after their yield strength.

    HSLA steel’s microstructure is mostly precipitation-strengthened ferrite, with small amounts of pearlite and bainite added depending on required strength levels. These micro-alloying elements contribute to fine carbide precipitations, interstitial and substitutional strengthening, and the grain-size refinement of HSLA steels. With little pearlite and no other hard phases, high strength low alloy steels have better fineblanking properties than dual phase grades.

    Low carbon and low (“lean”) alloy content also gives HSLA steels increased ductility, toughness, and weldability. Their low alloy content — plus no need for post-forming heat treatment —makes these high strength, low alloy steels an economical choice for many automotive body-in-white and chassis applications.

    HSLA steel properties

    • Higher strengths: from 420 MPa to 800 MPa yield strengths.
    • Good fatigue-loading performance: select higher yield strengths for durability-sensitive parts.
    • Improved formability, with excellent bendability for the rapid cold-forming of auto parts.
    • Weldability — HSLA’s lean composition readily lends itself to virtually all welding processes.
    • Greater inherent resistance to atmospheric corrosion than conventional carbon steels.
    • Economical lightweighting: a modest HSLA premium can more than double a part’s strength over using plain carbon steels.

    Automotive applications for high strength, low alloy steels

    HSLA steels are a basic way to reduce weight by increasing the strength of the steel. Weldability is good due to lean alloy composition and bendability is excellent.

    Hot-rolled Docol HSLA steels can be used for applications such as suspension systems, wheels, chassis, and seat mechanisms.

    Cold-rolled Docol HSLA steels can be appropriate for seat brackets and reinforcements.

    Either hot- or cold-rolled Docol HSLA can be used for beams and cross members, reinforcements, and other structural components.

    Body in white

    Grades and mechanical properties for Docol® HSLA steels

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      Product Family Product name Coating Dimensions Standards Datasheet
      Docol 420LA Docol CR​420LA GI, GA*, ZA* T: 0.80 - 2.00 mm
      W: Up to 1500 mm
      VDA 239-100

      Docol® 420LA

      Docol HR​420LA UC, GI* T: 2.00 - 4.00 mm
      W: Up to 1600 mm
      VDA 239-100

      Docol® 420LA

      Docol 460LA Docol CR​460LA UC, GI, GA*, ZA* T: 0.50 - 2.50 mm
      W: Up to 1527 mm
      VDA 239-100

      Docol® 460LA

      Docol HR​460LA UC T: 2.00 - 6.00 mm
      W: Up to 1600 mm
      VDA 239-100

      Docol® 460LA

      Docol 500LA Docol HR​500LA UC T: 2.00 - 6.00 mm
      W: Up to 1600 mm
      VDA 239-100

      Docol® 500LA

      Docol 550LA Docol HR​550LA UC, GI* T: 2.00 - 6.00 mm
      W: Up to 1600 mm
      VDA 239-100

      Docol® 550LA

      Docol 600LA Docol HR​600LA UC T: 2.00 - 6.00 mm
      W: Up to 1600 mm

      Docol® 600LA

      Docol 650LA Docol HR​650LA UC T: 2.000 - 6.00 mm
      W: Up to 1600 mm

      Docol® 650LA

      Docol 700LA Docol HR​700LA UC, EG, GI* T: 2.00 - 6.00 mm
      W: Up to 1600 mm
      VDA 239-100

      Docol® 700LA

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        Corrosion-protected, metal-coated HSLA steels

        • GI hot-dipped galvanized coatings to EN 10346:2015 standards are available for corrosion protection on Docol® 420LA, 460LA, 500LA, 550LA and 700LA.
        • GA galvannealed coatings are available on Docol® 420LA, with test samples available for galvannealed grades-under-development: Docol® 460LA and 500LA.
        • ZA Galfan® coatings are available on Docol® 420LA, with test samples available for Galfan®-coated grades-under-development: Docol® 460LA and 500LA.

        Forming Docol® HSLA steels

        • Excellent cold-working performance without needing post-forming heat treatments.
        • Excellent bendability due to an optimized microstructure.
        • Better fineblanking properties, with little pearlite and no other hard phases.
        • Very easy to weld, with limited grain coarsening from weld-zone softening.
        Docol has excellent cold formability

        Additional benefits from Docol® HSLA steels

        • Large selection of hot-rolled and cold-rolled HSLA steels, with eight basic (yield) strength levels: Docol® 420LA, 460LA, 500LA, 550LA, 600LA, 650LA, 700LA and 800LA.
        • Custom, OEM-specified HSLA grades allow for precise combinations of strength, formability, toughness, and weldability.
        • Good impact strength even at low temperatures.
        • Good fatigue strength: for example, for suspension arms, strut mounts, and other underbody components.
        • Good impact strength, e.g., for reinforcements, longitudinal beams, subframes, etc.

        Are you looking for OEM-specific HSLA steel grades?

        Docol® HSLA steel grades are supplied to EN 10149-2:2010 standards with dual certifications to the appropriate strength level MC standard also available. If you need an OEM customized HSLA grade, please contact our technical support for your specific automotive part application.

        The benefits of Docol® HSLA steel for each team member

        Safety engineers: Achieve optimized crash performance by selecting from a wide variety of HSLA strengths.

        Lightweighting engineers: Accomplish straightforward weight reductions of 20% to 30% or more compared to typical carbon steels.

        Production engineers: Use existing cold-forming equipment and techniques, ensuring rapid parts throughput with exceptionally consistent Docol® steel.

        Buyers: Take advantage of Docol® HSLA steels affordability while more than doubling the yield strengths compared to your existing conventional carbon steel.

        Sustainability officers: Immediately benefit from Docol® HSLA steels’ modest carbon footprint — getting virgin, iron-ore based grades with the CO2 equivalence of recycled steel. And in 2026, there will be fossil-free Docol® HSLA steels.

        Lower your embedded CO2

        Docol® HSLA steel is “future proofed.”


        Get HSLA samples in multiple sizes

        A unique offer from SSAB: we ship coils, sheets and custom lengths of any size, typically in 1 to 2 weeks. Get AHSS samples for both our commercially available steels, as well as our newest grades still in development.

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