In what might be the most predictable statement to come from a steel-maker ever, ArcelorMittal has said that automakers don’t need to switch away from steel in order to hit future fuel efficiency regulations.
The company recently released the results of a study showing that it could cut the weight of a pickup truck by 383 pounds by using only high-strength steels, without adopting other metals like aluminum. AM’s study used an undisclosed 2009-model pickup, and focused entirely on the underbody. Total frame weight dropped from 1,649 pounds to 1,265 pounds, or a 23 percent drop.
“It is possible to design all types of lightweight vehicles and to get them to the 2025 targets, and you can do it in steel,” said Blake Zuidema, AM director of automotive product applications. While previous studies focused exclusively on passenger cars, “[we] had to show that even with the unique challenge of a pickup, you could hit those targets.”
That was certainly a shot at Ford who has loudly promoted the use of aluminum as the largest factor in its upcoming 2015 F-150 models being around 700 pounds lighter than the current generation. Ford’s diet includes extensive use of aluminum in the body, but also highlights “an all-new, fully boxed ladder frame with more high-strength steel than ever to make it stronger yet lighter.” Obviously the company isn’t ignoring the benefits of steel, but somewhere along the way made aluminum a priority.
Perhaps AM can still convince General Motors to abandon its plans to introduce aluminum bodies for pickups as early as 2018 in favor of high-strength steel?