Hot forming steels have long flourished in the automotive industry. This is mainly because cold forming steels with the right properties previously did not exist. Yet, with new cold formable steels that live up to the high strength and geometric demands of modern automotive applications, there is a growing trend to use these steels, but to what extent? Could future cars be made from a high percentage of high strength, cold forming steels and how would they compare to one built with other materials – in terms of emissions and recyclability?
Kenneth Olsson, Business Development Specialist at SSAB, provides some insight:
“Really high strength steel should be used where it makes sense in a car. If a car body were to be made up mostly of cold formable Docol®, with component innovations that match the properties of the steel, we can expect a vehicle that will obtain high crash test ratings while also being lightweight. Fuel consumption and emissions will decrease as a result and since steel is 100 percent recyclable, more of the car could be repurposed at the end of its lifecycle.”
Recyclability is an important attribute as some regions of the world are beginning to demand that 95% of the materials used in a car should be possible to recycle.
In terms of sustainability, comparing the lightweight materials of steel, aluminum, carbon fiber reinforced plastics and magnesium, shows that steel has an extraordinarily lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emission in the production phase.
A look at the production of advanced high strength steels from the cleanest facilities, like the production of Docol® AHSS from SSAB, shows even better numbers.
The unique strength and technical properties of cold formable, advanced high strength steel also allow OEMs to reduce the amount of material needed for manufacturing a certain component by utilizing thinner dimensions or more weight effective cross sections.
So, to summarize, through smart design and engineering, it would be theoretically possible to create a car made from up to 50 percent cold formable advanced high strength steel - and doing so would have numerous environmental benefits.