From builder to bodyguard

These days, many auto designers, engineers and fabricators are more than just builders: they’re bodyguards. The choice of material and design have a huge impact on a product’s function and safety, whether in applications that demand high protection, like armored vehicles, race cars and automobiles, or in safety-sensitive industries.

The automotive industry, for one, has come a long way in ensuring safety. Not only do advanced high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels help produce stronger, lighter, more energy-efficient vehicles, but they play a critical role in safeguarding lives. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the cars made today use AHSS to achieve top results in European NCAP crash tests.

Advances in motor vehicle safety

So, how far have materials for car safety components come in the last 50 years?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a unique crash test to demonstrate the advances of motor vehicle safety over the last 50 years. In this test, a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu and a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air are both going 40 mph and the vehicles collide offset, driver side to driver side. This is the same crash configuration represented by the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset barrier test, which is used to rate the frontal crash performance of new cars.

According to expert analysis, the driver of the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu, containing over 50% AHSS/UHSS, would have suffered a slight knee injury.

The driver of the 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air, containing 0% AHSS/UHSS, would have died instantly.