Steel industry promises "ultralight" cars

Research shows EU target of 140g carbon dioxide per kilometre already possible, say firms

An international consortium of steel companies claimed yesterday that ongoing research had demonstrated the feasibility of cutting car weights by 25% through use of lighter steel suspensions, doors, bodies and powertrains. This would enable production of "small family cars" emitting just 140 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre, said UK steel firm Corus on behalf of the consortium.

The figure of 140g/km CO2 is identical to a target for average new cars in 2008 agreed in 1998 between the European Commission and car makers association Acea (ENDS Daily 6 October 1998). A recent first monitoring report on the deal showed that Acea member firms were moving only slowly towards the target, though faster than their Japanese and Korean counterparts (ENDS Daily 6 October). Corus gave no indication of when cars using the new "ultralight" steel designs the consortium is developing could be on the market.

Research into lighter steel vehicle suspensions, doors and powertrains follows announcement of lighter steel car bodies in 1998. Work is continuing, a Corus spokesperson told ENDS Daily, and a final report, to be completed in about one year, could well demonstrate possibilities for even greater overall weight reductions and CO2 emissions below 140g/km.

The steel industry is locked in a commercial battle with aluminium firms, which claim that substitution of traditional steel automotive applications with their product can achieve greater lightweighting. The steel consortium has 34 members, including Europe-based companies such Usinor, Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG and Rautaruukki Oy.

Follow Up:
Corus, tel: +44 20 77 17 44 44.

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