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Global Automakers Still Deem Steel Their Material of Choice

5 January 1999

Global Automakers Still Deem Steel Their Material of Choice
       Low-Cost, High-Performance Steel Remains Dominant at Auto Show;
              The Most Recycled Material is Environmental Leader

    DETROIT, Jan. 5 -- Journalists and show visitors will see
much that is new at the 1999 North American International Auto Show.  But,
they also will see much that is very familiar -- lots and lots of safe,
affordable, lightweight and environmentally friendly steel.  Manufacturers
will demonstrate many auto applications using the strength that only steel can
    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,
steel provides the safety and protection that consumers demand at a cost
that's attractive to automobile manufacturers and with a recycling rate that
tops other materials.  Steel continues to maintain its dominant position as
the material of choice for vital structural, performance, crash energy
management, and other significant applications.
    "Steel continues to represent a 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, significantly advancing the benefits
of steel while severely limiting opportunities for competing materials to gain
much at steel's expense," said Darryl Martin, senior director of automotive
applications for the American Iron and Steel Institute.  "Today, 85 percent of
aluminum usage is in cast and other non-sheet applications -- engine blocks,
transmissions, heat exchangers and wheels.  Very little steel sheet has given
way to competing materials."
    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.  Furthermore, steel can be recycled into new
steel for any applications, including high strength steels for light weight
    Steel is an unsurpassed material for producing crashworthy vehicles.
Steel's inherent properties enable designers to create crumple zones fore and
aft of the occupant compartment, itself a steel safety cage that surrounds and
protects the driver and passengers in crashes.
    The steel industry's programs to advance automotive steel design,
including ULSAB, ULSAS, ULSAC (UltraLight Steel Auto Body, Suspensions and
Closures, respectively) and LTS (Light Truck Study) projects, have shown the
significant weight-reduction and performance-improvement potential of
automotive sheet 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
    The steel industry's next major project will build on the success of ULSAB
by aiming at the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) target of
a 2000-pound curb-weight vehicle that gets up to 80 miles per gallon.  The new
steel project seeks 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.
    More specifically, the new steel project will use breakthrough
technologies that employ the innovative use of steel in automotive
applications.  These innovations will:
    *  reduce energy consumption
    *  enhance safety
    *  foster high volume production
    *  maintain affordability
    *  leverage steel's unmatched repairability and recyclability.

    The steel industry's continuing work to improve steel-based solutions
supports the automakers efforts to produce vehicles that reduce emissions of
harmful greenhouse gases.
    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 50 member companies, including integrated and electric
furnace steelmakers, and 170 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 web site at
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

    Automotive Applications Committee member companies:
    AK Steel Corporation
    Acme Steel Company
    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