The rapid growth of the electric vehicle market isn’t a threat to steel – and in fact reinforces efforts already underway in the high-value advanced high-strength (AHSS) steel arena, Kallanish hears from the American Iron and Steel Institute.
“As the industry shifts toward more electric vehicles, lightweighting will remain front and center,” said AISI automotive program vice president John Catterall. “Automakers can combine the potential mass reduction enabled by AHSS with appropriate engine technologies to achieve their desired fuel-economy goals.”
Three main opportunities exist in the electric vehicle arena for steel, Catterall adds – EV battery packaging, B-pillarless designs, and overall lightweighting.
“As battery efficiencies improve the battery pack costs decrease, as does the premium an automaker is willing to pay for mass reduction. Advanced grades of steel also allow thinner gauges thus optimizing the available package pace for more batteries, resulting in greater range on a single charge,” Catterall says.
Third-generation AHSS is being used in vehicle side structures, which eliminates the need for B-pillars – or the vertical supports near the midsection of a vehicle.
“With more than 200 grades of innovative steels available to automakers today, and more in development, applying the right grade of steel for the right application allows for exceptional occupant protection, durability and crash energy management in a cost-efficient manner,” Catterall says.