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Global Automakers Still Deem Steel Their Material of Choice

11 January 2000

Global Automakers Still Deem Steel Their Material of Choice, Reports American Iron and Steel Institute
        Low Cost, High Performance Steel Remains Dominant at Auto Show

              The Most Recycled Material is Environmental Leader

    DETROIT, Jan. 10 -- Journalists and show visitors will see
much that is new at the 2000 North American International Auto Show.  But,
they also will see much that is very familiar -- lots and lots of strong,
safe, affordable, lightweight and environmentally friendly steel, reports
American Iron and Steel Institute.
    The vast majority of production cars, sport utility vehicles and light
trucks, along with a profusion of concept vehicles, use steel as their primary
material for structures, body panels, closures, bumpers and wheels.
    And with good reason:  In spite of aggressive steps by competing materials
and driven by vehicle makers to make more environmentally benign vehicles, the
steel industry continues to meet its customers' requirements and, thus, has
maintained its dominant position as the material of choice for vital
structural and other applications.
    Steel has been able to sustain its 55 percent share of average vehicle
weight over the past dozen or more years because the steel industry has
continually improved the performance of its material, severely limiting
opportunities for competing materials to gain much at steel's expense.
    During the past two decades, automakers' use of high strength and ultra
high strength steel sheet has outpaced the growth rate of aluminum by 13
percent, making it the fastest growing automotive lightweighting material.
(Nearly eighty percent of aluminum usage is in cast applications -- engine
blocks, transmissions and wheels.  Less than two percent of auto aluminum goes
into body structures and closures.)
    Steel is the world's most recycled metal.  It is the chief reason for the
nearly 100 percent recycling rate for out-of-service automobiles.  Steel is
easy and inexpensive to recycle as it uses magnetic separation and requires no
sorting by alloy in advance.
    Steel sheet is an unsurpassed material for producing crashworthy vehicles
and offers engineers the greatest design flexibility for packaging engines,
passengers and cargo.
    Additionally, the steel industry's continuing work is helping automakers
to produce vehicles that reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases,
including CO2.
    Over the past seven years, the steel industry has engaged a series of
research initiatives to demonstrate and communicate the capabilities of the
steel industry to meet society's demand for safe, affordable, environmentally
responsible vehicles for the 21st century.
    The latest of these is the ULSAB-AVC (Advanced Vehicle Concepts) project,
which will present advanced vehicle concepts to help automakers use steel more
efficiently and provide a structural platform for achieving:

    *  Anticipated crash safety requirements for 2004,
    *  Significantly improved fuel efficiency,
    *  Optimized environmental performance regarding emissions, source
       reduction and recycling,
    *  High volume manufacturability at affordable costs.

    Unlike its predecessor project ULSAB, ULSAB-AVC goes beyond the body-in-
white and will include the suspension, engine cradle, closures and all
structural and safety-related components.
    Scheduled for completion in mid-2001, ULSAB-AVC builds on the industry's
previous projects, ULSAB, ULSAS, ULSAC (UltraLight Steel Auto Body,
Suspensions and Closures, respectively) and LTS (Light Truck Structures),
which have shown the significant weight reduction and performance improvement
potential of steel.  For example, ULSAB demonstrated weight reduction of the
body structure of up to 36 percent, compared to benchmarked vehicles, with a
substantial improvement in performance and at no increase in cost.  These low
cost, high performance solutions enhance steel's competitive position and
increase the difficulty for competing materials to displace the incumbent
steel.
    American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) is a non-profit association of
North American companies engaged in the iron and steel industry.  The
Institute comprises 46 member companies, including integrated and electric
furnace steelmakers, and 175 associate and affiliate members who are suppliers
to or customers of the steel industry.  For a broader look at steel and its
applications, the institute has its own website at http://www.steel.org .
    The Automotive Applications Committee (AAC) is a subcommittee of the
Market Development Committee of AISI and focuses on advancing the use of steel
in the highly competitive automotive market.  With offices and staff located
in Detroit, cooperation between the automobile and steel industries has been
significant to its success.  This industry cooperation resulted in the
formation of the Auto/Steel Partnership, a consortium of DaimlerChrysler, Ford
and General Motors and the member companies of the AAC.
    This release and other steel-related information are available for viewing
and downloading at American Iron and Steel Institute/Automotive Applications
Committee's website at http://www.autosteel.org .

    Automotive Applications Committee member companies:
    AK Steel Corporation
    Bethlehem Steel Corporation
    Dofasco Inc.
    Ispat Inland Inc.
    LTV Steel Company
    National Steel Corporation
    Rouge Steel Company
    Stelco Inc.
    US Steel Group, a unit of USX Corporation
    WCI Steel, Inc.
    Weirton Steel Corporation