Steel plays an important role in the automotive industry, but its indispensability is under question because of the increasing pressure of lighter materials, especially aluminium.
More and more strict environmental and energy standards put very serious challenges in front of the car manufacturers, the ones that require innovation and exception from the proven solutions. The biggest request is to reduce fuel consumption, which is a problem that can easily be solved by reducing the total weight of the vehicle. This is the reason the leading manufacturers in the automotive industry decided to turn to the use of lighter materials - primarily aluminium and plastic. Switching to aluminium is facilitated by its global low cost, which should last some longer time. Today's cars contain an average of up to 6% of aluminium parts. According to analysts, this percentage will climb to at least 25% in the next 10 years.
Car industry based its production mainly on steel for decades, and it takes part with great 12 percent in the total global demand for this raw material. It is used in skeletal structure of the automobile plus the closures. There is no doubt that the current trend of increased use of aluminium and other lightweight materials will seriously disturb the market share of steel in the car industry, so it is quite reasonable to ask what is the future of steel in this sector?
In modern cars even 60% weight of waste is made of steel. It is accualy the greatest encumbrance in the modern automotive industry. On the other hand, the undeniable advantage of the steel is in a low cost which is far lower than the cost of aluminium, titanium or manganese. Besides, the leading steel manufacturers - such as Arcelor Mittal - make strenuous efforts to develop a completely new type of steel that will keep all positive characteristics with significantly less weight. Such material will certainly be competitive to current alternatives. Advanced High-Strength Steel is the first step on this path. According to some tests it can save up to thirty-nine percent of the mass of the car compared to the claims that aluminimum can save up to 50%. This is the best proof that the steel industry will not easily leave an important part of the market share to the alternative materials.
From this point of view, the future of steel in the automotive industry is highly probable. It is certain tha the optimizing the use of steel is necessary in order to achieve an optimal ratio of weight, performance and price, but it will remain a fundamental part of most cars.