Customer case

Gestamp and SSAB collaborate long-term for a stronger, lighter automotive future

6 min read

Gestamp and SSAB collaborate long-term for a stronger, lighter automotive future

Case details

Country Spain
Company Gestamp
Industry Automotive

In 2014, Gestamp launched a joint project with its customer Toyota. The objective was to develop a front lower control arm for use in the production of the Toyota Yaris in Europe. However, it soon became clear the steel grade required to develop this part did not yet exist. This was when Gestamp approached SSAB.

Founded in Madrid, Spain, in 1997, Gestamp is a global automotive Tier 1 supplier operating across 13 Research & Development centers and more than 100 production plants worldwide. A designer, developer, and manufacturer of metal automotive components, Gestamp specializes in innovatively designed products intended to deliver safer and lighter vehicles, thereby reducing energy consumption and environmental impact.

“SSAB is one of our steel suppliers that delivers advanced high-strength steels and supports us as we seek to meet the sustainability challenges of the automotive industry, through weight reduction and CO2 savings,” said Dr. Mehdi Asadi, Manager Materials Engineering, Gestamp Chassis, Germany.

“We embarked on the challenging, seven-year journey to develop a new high-strength steel grade called Docol® 1000CP,” said Asadi, adding that the specific chassis grade did not exist at the time.

Case details

Country Spain
Company Gestamp
Industry Automotive

Early and frequent collaboration is key

“This is exactly how SSAB likes to work – to be invited right at the start of the project,” said Ben Cook, Sales Segment Manager, SSAB. “The combination of SSAB’s material knowledge and Gestamp’s design and manufacturing experience have both been so important in turning this concept into reality.”

While the team members from both Gestamp and SSAB admit that the seven years had more than their fair share of bumps in the road, they all emphasize that the end result – an innovative new steel grade that delivered what the product required in terms of local and global formability, strength, stiffness, and fatigue – came about as the result of an exceptional collaborative effort on both sides.

“We were able to try a huge number of different compositions thanks to SSAB’s flexibility and quick turnaround when it came to the prototype materials,” explained Carlota Arenillas, Innovation Project Manager, Gestamp Chassis, Spain. “There were moments when this project felt like climbing Mount Everest. However, every time it seemed impossible, someone at SSAB pulled something out of the bag or we were able to reach a compromise together.”

“It’s true that the material concept underwent several alterations during the development that finally landed in a complex phase steel that satisfied the requirements of the part,” agreed Erik Nymann, Product Developer, SSAB. “Compromises were needed, but thanks to the feedback received we were able to focus on the critical aspects of the material.”


A new high-strength steel grade is born

Over the course of the project, Gestamp worked closely with SSAB on everything from material composition to characterization and, finally, homologation of the complex phase steel for use on a front lower control arm (FLCA). It was a true team effort, in which every aspect of the development chain was involved – from sales to production to customer trials and feedback – and one which both teams now view as a unique example of cross-company collaboration in the world of steel development.

What is Docol 1000CP steel?

Docol 1000CP automotive steel is significantly higher in strength than conventionally used grades, without compromising on quality, performance, or part geometry. This enables a thinner gauge – making the part lighter. The strength and ductility originate from the complex phase microstructure. Along with a good surface quality and high strength, the steel also performs well in fatigue – an important property for FLCA components.

This new material has enabled us to deliver a front low control arm that is significantly lighter than its predecessor.

Dr. Mehdi Asadi, Manager Materials Engineering, Gestamp, Spain.

Lower weight, better fuel efficiency, fewer emissions

In early 2020, the project teams at Gestamp and SSAB saw their tireless work pay off as the Docol 1000CP steel was successfully launched into production for a front lower control arm of the Toyota Yaris.

“The beauty was that we were able to listen to the customer first to find out what they needed, then put a team together of SSAB experts from all over the business to meet those requirements,” said SSAB’s Cook.

As for what is next, the Docol 1000 Complex Phase steel is also being developed with other OEMs for future launches to deliver reductions in weight and CO2 emissions. “We believe the front lower control arm is just the first step towards all the things that could potentially be done with this new steel grade,” said Nymann.

control arm

About Gestamp

  • Gestamp is a multinational company specialized in the design, development and manufacture of highly-engineered metal components for the main vehicle manufacturers. It develops products with an innovative design to produce lighter and safer vehicles, which offer lower energy consumption and a lower environmental impact. Its products cover the areas of bodywork, chassis and mechanisms.
  • The company is present in 24 countries with more than 100 production plants, 13 R&D centers and a workforce of nearly 40,000 employees worldwide. Its turnover in 2021 was 8,093 million Euros. Gestamp is listed on the Spanish stock exchange under the ticker GEST.

About Docol 1000CP steel

  • A brand-new hot-rolled steel grade initially developed for use in a front lower control arm.
  • This steel grade allows for significantly lighter chassis applications than previously existing grades, without compromising on quality, performance or part geometry.
  • Can be tailored for use by OEMs to reduce mass and CO2 emissions in automotive applications.