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Consumers View Advanced High-Strength Steel As The Answer To Safety, Performance And Fuel Efficiency According To New Market Research Report


DETROIT--Jan. 14, 2014: At the 2014 North American International Auto Show today the steel industry unveiled conclusive findings from a recent market research study regarding the role of steel in automobiles, revealing an overwhelmingly positive perception of steel across the consumer market. The 2013 U.S. Truck & SUV Market Study of more than 3,000 U.S.-based truck and SUV owners was commissioned by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and conducted by MindClick Global, a leader in supply chain research and sustainability.

The study shows that building on the extensive steel grade portfolio leads to definitive results in automotive safety, fuel efficiency and decreased carbon footprint. It also highlights the steel industry's leadership in performance, recycling and offering economical solutions for the auto industry to help meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations.

"Through innovation and continuous improvement, we have developed a wide range of advanced high-strength steel – or AHSS – grades enabling carmakers to make more efficient vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our AHSS grades protect the environment in the same way they protect the driver," said Lawrence W. Kavanagh, president of SMDI. "AHSS feature unique metallurgical properties and processing methods that enable the automotive industry to meet current and future fuel economy and safety requirements, without increasing costs."

MindClick Global conducted more than 3,000 online interviews with participants representing the broader U.S. consumer market, obtaining a representative sample by gender, age, income, SUV and truck ownership and purchase interest. The study revealed at a 95 percent statistical confidence level that the manufacturing of vehicles using AHSS grades increases overall automaker brand equity to the consumer. Contributing factors included steel's reputation for safety, performance and fuel efficiency.

Consumers Applaud High Safety Standards According to consumer feedback, when directly compared to other automotive materials, steel is more strongly associated with strength, safety and protection of the family, an important and personal element of a consumer's driving experience. The strength of the material used in the frame and body of the vehicle holds as much significance over purchasing decisions as brand and cost.

This consumer trust and confidence in steel as a safe, green and fuel-efficient material also helps to elevate overall automotive brand opinion and propensity to buy.

"Based on the brand analysis, awareness of the use of AHSS directly correlated to an overwhelming amount of consumers, 90 percent, citing a strong preference for and likelihood to purchase brands that make use of AHSS," said JoAnna Abrams, CEO of MindClick Global. "Approximately half of participants surveyed agreed that replacing steel with other materials would undoubtedly lead them to question how the vehicle handles normal wear and tear and raises concerns about the potential cost of vehicle insurance and repair."

Sustainable Steel Protects Passengers and the Planet According to the survey results, when consumers were made aware that trucks and SUVs made from AHSS achieve reduced greenhouse gas emissions without compromising safety, performance or affordability, steel was very strongly preferred (5:1 ratio) over alternative materials.