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STEEL INDUSTRY WEIGHS INTO FUEL ECONOMY FIGHT WITH LIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN

 PARIS, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The steel industry today described how automakers, driven by tightening governmental regulations, can significantly reduce the weight and cost of their vehicles while achieving stronger body structures.
 "We have found that using 'holistic' engineering and design techniques, along with the latest steel materials and manufacturing technologies, will yield, in a typical front drive American sedan, material savings of at least 140 pounds and $40," said Peter T. Peterson, a member of American Iron and Steel Institute's (AISI) Automotive Applications Committee and director, marketing automotive, for U.S. Steel. "That's a nearly 20-percent weight savings in the car body," he said.
 Assuming only a 15-percent weight reduction in the car body, annual fuel savings on new cars produced in North America and Europe would reach 200 million gallons, contributing to automakers' efforts to meet stricter emissions and CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards as well as conserve energy.
 "These techniques also can eliminate as many as 50 parts from the body structure (Body-In-White) of a steel-bodied vehicle, yet maintain optimum results for rigidity, crash energy management, durability, NVH (noise, vibration and harshness), manufacturing and assembly," he said.
 By combining steel and its superb engineering qualities with holistic B-I-W design, vehicle producers can avoid the high costs of alternative materials, such as aluminum and composites. They also avoid the time and expense of developing manufacturing processes and equipment the alternative materials require.
 "These kinds of results simply are not possible using any material other than steel," Peterson said.
 Peterson moderated a panel during the 27th Conference of International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI). The panel included Dr. Ludwig Hamm, chief engineer of body engineering, Porsche AG, and Edmond Pachura, president of Sollac, a French steel company.
 AISI recently co-funded a study, along with Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), to understand better potential weight and cost savings using "holistic" design, or systems engineering, approaches in a steel-bodied vehicle. Porsche Engineering Services, Inc. of Troy, Mich., a unit of Porsche AG, conducted the study using an existing Ford Taurus as a basis for comparison.
 "In this study, we demonstrated a range of benefits that are possible using a holistic design approach for the B-I-W, rather than one that treats parts independently, without thorough regard for their effect on the rest of the body structure system," Hamm said.
 Kenneth K. Kohrs, vice president-Car Product Development, North American Automotive Operations, spoke about Ford's weight reduction efforts at the University of Michigan's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich., last August. He said: "At Ford, we've been on an unending quest to reduce vehicle weight for the past 25 years." The study with AISI is one example of Ford's work "with the steel industry to find new and better ways to reduce vehicle weight."
 The goal of holistic design is to achieve an optimal rigidity-to- weight ratio of the body structure. This requires analyzing the entire body as an integrated system to find opportunities for weight savings and greater structural stiffness. Through an iterative process using simultaneous engineering and complete systems analysis, engineers may find that they must add weight to a certain area of the B-I-W to strengthen it. Careful strengthening of certain areas relieves other sections of structural responsibility, and, thus, creates potential for removing substantially more weight than was added.
 "This approach results in less steel and fewer parts in a B-I-W which translates into less weight and less cost. Fewer parts require fewer dies and fewer sub-assemblies which means less manufacturing complexity and potentially lower capital cost for tools, dies and equipment," Hamm said.
 "Design integration has allowed us to create fewer parts, thus reducing weight," Kohrs said.
 Holistic design also facilitates weight savings derived from more efficient use of materials, including lighter gage steel, high-strength and bake-hardenable steels and tailored blanks.
 Tailored blanks are two or more steel blanks joined together by laser welding, or other methods, before they are formed. Tailored blanks combine steels of different thicknesses or grades and contribute to lower weight, fewer parts, more efficient material use, less scrap and better structural rigidity.
 In Europe, German automakers Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen in cooperation with German and French steelmakers, are launching a parallel project to develop advanced methodologies for designing and producing lighter, stronger body components and sub- assemblies using high-strength steels. Co-funded by the European Community, the program, which includes development of new plant technologies, expands the scope for integrated design further.
 "The more the world's automakers and suppliers understand how to use the concepts of holistic design, the more efficient tomorrow's cars and trucks will be," Peterson said. "Today's computing power, including Ford's latest-generation Cray supercomputer, are major contributors to this kind of work."
 "Computer modeling has allowed us to optimize weight, often by reducing the gage of steel in strategic areas, without sacrificing strength and durability," Kohrs said.
 Peterson said, "German OEMs have been using holistic design as they strive to improve the high-speed performance of their cars. To drive safely on German autobahns with unlimited speeds requires cars with great rigidity and highly efficient structures. But that is not the only, or even the best, reason to design holistically. We now understand the tremendous weight, and therefore, fuel economy benefits available to us using these techniques."
 Car manufacturers around the world are looking aggressively for ways to take weight out of vehicles, including using aluminum. Holistic design can be applied to the use of aluminum, but compared to steel, aluminum lacks the technical, production and experiential infrastructure that already exists for steel.
 "Every alternative to steel we've studied has major shortcomings in cost or strength or durability or crashability or a combination of all these challenges and more. And every lightweight alternative material encounters equally great obstacles to high-volume manufacturing," Kohrs said.
 "Aluminum has its place, but it will be a long wait for that material to become practical and efficient. Steel already is the material of choice and can meet the requirements for lighter weight vehicles now," Pachura said.
 Worldwide, automakers use about 45 million tons of steel to produce some 35 million passenger cars annually. In recent years, steelmakers have aggressively partnered with the auto industry in developing high- performance steels and improving steel properties so as to create leading-edge production systems that will be hard for alternative materials to replace.
 AISI is a nonprofit association of the iron and steel industry. Its purpose is to engage in activities of common interest to its members. These pursuits include cooperative ventures that would not ordinarily be undertaken by individual members and which are of general concern to all. AISI was incorporated in 1908 and has members in the United States, Canada and Latin America.
 -0- 10/4/93
 /CONTACT: Fred Zosel of PR Associates, 313-963-3396, for American Iron and Steel Institute/


CO: American Iron and Steel Institute; International Iron and Steel
 Institute ST: IN: MNG AUT SU:


JG -- DE036 -- 8524 10/04/93 16:37 EDT
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Date:Oct 4, 1993
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