Paris, 2 September 2014 - ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining company, today unveils a new range of steels for the automotive industry that offers significant weight savings while improving safety.
Following an ambitious investment programme in Europe and the Americas, the Fortiform® range – which was developed by the company’s research and development teams in Maizières-lès-Metz, France and East Chicago, USA - will initially be produced and developed at two ArcelorMittal sites in Belgium: Gent and Kessales (Liège). This is just the first step in a more ambitious investment programme which will expand development to include production in NAFTA and further investments in all regions to follow customer demand. In the meanwhile, the product will be exported from Europe.
The new Fortiform® range of advanced high strength steels (AHSS) for cold stamping could lead to further weight savings of up to 20% in vehicle parts, compared with the weight savings already offered by ArcelorMittal’s current AHSS. This is a crucial advantage as car makers come under pressure to further lighten vehicles and thereby reduce their emissions. Because of its superior properties, the Fortiform® range is able to absorb more energy in a crash, with less steel. This makes it suitable for use in many structural parts of the vehicle that may be affected during impact, including front and rear chassis members and windscreen A- and B-pillars.
The Fortiform® range currently consists of three steel grades. Fortiform® 1050 is the first product of this new range to be available on the market and has already undergone formability and weldability tests with global carmakers who have all approved its use. The first serially produced vehicles to use the new steel will roll off production lines in 2017.
Two other grades, Fortiform® 980 and Fortiform® 1180, will be released between 2014 and 2017. Samples will be available to manufacturers for testing later this year, with industrial production set to start in 2015. Other products will follow in various regions, in line with available technology and demand.
The challenge for automotive manufacturers is that they must reduce the weight of their vehicles in order to meet future regulations on tailpipe emissions. Regulations in force in the EU are being steadily strengthened, with ambitious targets for 2015 and 2021, and even tougher standards are being considered for 2025 in both the EU and the USA. In the EU, the target is to reduce the average emissions for manufacturers’ fleets of vehicles to 130g of CO₂ per kilometre by 2015, and to 95g of CO₂ per kilometre by 2021. Reducing the weight of the vehicle by around 12kg saves one gram of CO₂ equivalent emissions per kilometre (1.6g/mile), meaning Fortiform® will help car makers meet these strict quotas.
The Fortiform® range of steels is the latest innovative steel product to come from ArcelorMittal’s research and development (R&D) teams. Their successful launch is further proof that steel is by far the most sustainable, the most adaptable and the most affordable material to help carmakers produce lighter vehicles - and achieve their weight reduction targets on time without compromising strength and safety. Fortiform® was developed to complement ArcelorMittal’s existing AHSS offer, which features hot stamping grades such as Usibor® and Ductibor®.
In 2013, ArcelorMittal spent $270m on R&D activities, of which more than 30% was devoted to the automotive market.
Speaking about the launch of Fortiform®, Brian Aranha, vice president Automotive Worldwide, said: “ArcelorMittal is supporting automotive manufacturers as they respond to the challenge of meeting new regulations on emissions and fuel economy. Fortiform® steel grades combine excellent strength and formability and could lead to weight savings of between 10 and 20% in vehicle parts, compared with conventional solutions.”
“We work together with carmakers from the early stages of a vehicle’s life to integrate the most innovative steels in their designs. This enables them to hit targets for fuel efficiency without compromising on safety, style or affordability” explained Greg Ludkovsky, vice president global R&D at ArcelorMittal.
Steel remains the most cost-effective material as well as the most commonly used metal in vehicles. While carbon fibre and aluminium are often proposed as alternatives to steel, these materials cost significantly more than the latest advanced high strength steels.
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