The future of steel in the automotive industry 3 minutes spent reading
Mobility

The future of steel in the automotive industry

Volkmar Held

What will happen to the car in the future? And what is the future for steel in tomorrow’s cars? A new study offers answers.

Electric drives, autonomous driving, networking, and new models of mobility—four trends are shaping tomorrow’s automobility. Driving as we know it today will change fundamentally.

Megatrends

A new study commissioned by WorldAutoSteel, the automotive division of the World Steel Association, and undertaken in 2016/17, indicates three starting points:

  • Urbanization across Europe, the Americas, and Asia calls for new concepts to meet mobility demands.
  • Climate change, with the resulting (supra-)national regulations designed to reduce emissions.
  • A cultural change, including change in attitude towards mobility amongst customer groups.

In a nutshell, more passengers need to be transported by fewer cars, and without emitting pollutants.

The fka, an Aachen-based research company that undertook the study, sees climate change and the enactments drawn up to combat it as the key drivers behind changes in automobility. Automotive manufacturers are working to fulfil the specifications of up to 65 grams of emitted CO2 per kilometer driven (from 2025), which are currently under discussion, by coming up with new lightweight automotive designs, more efficient powertrains, and improved aerodynamics.

Steel remains mobile

There still remains a significant role for steel, concludes Ingo Olschewski of the fka, speaking at the 11th voestalpine synergy platform.

"There is a clear future for steel in automobiles. Our study shows a trend towards increased use of steel through to the middle of this century"
Ingo Olschewski, fka
Ingo Olschewski

Ingo Olschewski at the voestalpine Synergy Platform 2017

Whether high-strength lightweight construction solutions for automotive safety, or electrical steel in new drive systems, steel in its many facets offers solutions for tomorrow’s automobility. They include integrating power supply within the vehicle structure and considering new models of exploitation. “For example, if passenger seating positions need to be flexible in future vehicles, then the solution must be found in passive safety concepts within the car body.”

In the end, over its reference period the study indicates a positive trend for the use of steel in cars. “A tough, safe body, a more efficient, optimized powertrain, and the wheels—steel will continue to have a role to play in tomorrow’s automobility,” Olschewski is convinced.

Automotive trends—pro & contra.

An attempted overview

  Pro Contra
Electrification
  • Emissions reductions
  • 20–30% less maintenance
  • Meets legislative requirements for emissions reductions
  • Insufficient charging infrastructure
  • Short distances covered
Autonomous driving
  • Active safety
  • Efficient use of transport infrastructure
  • Relieves the “driver”/passengers
  • Problems in coping with mix of autonomous/ conventional traffic
  • 100% reliability essential
  • Loss of “driving experience”
  • Collapse of the aftermarket
New models of mobility (car sharing, mobile services …)
  • Solution to urban transport problems
  • Reduces commuter volumes
  • 85% of all drivers want their own vehicle
  • Loss of “private space”
  • Limited to urban areas
Networking
  • Connecting cars with cars, and cars with transport infrastructure makes traffic safer and smooths traffic flows
  • New and improved services (communication, traffic routing, maintenance)
  • Data security
  • Danger of malware

 

Volkmar Held