Lightweight Steel Wheel Developped

If plans to introduce a cost-saving new design come to pass, we could see hybrids, EVs, and fuel-efficient cars shod with special lightweight steel wheels instead of the current wave of lightweight alloy wheels.

To assist automakers in manufacturing vehicles that will meet the new fuel economy regulations while also offering style to consumers, the Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Wheels Task Force recently unveiled the results of its latest lightweight steel wheel project.

The SMDI said it developed a stylish new steel wheel design solution that is equivalent in mass to a comparable aluminum wheel, but at a 40 percent cost saving.

SMDI is a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute.

“This new steel wheel design provides automakers with a great foundation for a lightweight, affordable wheel that consumers will love,” said Ronald Krupitzer, vice president, automotive market, SMDI. “With automakers looking for solutions to develop lightweight (-ing) technologies, here is another example of steel matching aluminum in mass while beating aluminum in cost. It’s also a highly styled wheel that will help sell cars.”

This project is said to have applied state-of–the-art concept design and analytical methods to an existing high-volume wheel to achieve an advanced lightweight design that can be adapted to various vehicle platforms.

Advanced manufacturing processes and new steel grades were evaluated to increase the weight and cost savings potential for the wheel assembly design. According to the SMDI, the results of this study provide a lightweight design methodology in a format that can be used by automotive wheel designers to help improve designs at a significantly reduced weight and cost.

Funded by members of SMDI’s Wheels Task Force, the steel wheel project engineering work was conducted by Troy, Mich.-based Altair Engineering, Inc. A copy of the final report and executive summary can be found on www.autosteel.org.