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CMO Automotive, Packaging, Electrical Steels and Tailored Blanks,
ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products
While emissions regulations have been leading the change, particularly in Europe, new initiatives are seeing older or diesel-powered vehicles being banned by individual cities and countries. This is driving market divergence, particularly the growing demand for electric vehicles. New technologies such as fuel cells and clean diesel are also emerging and will affect the mix of powertrains available to consumers as they evolve and become commercially viable.
A vehicle’s powertrain includes all of the components that are responsible for generating power and converting it into momentum. In internal combustion engines (ICE), these components include the engine, cylinder block and head, and the drive shaft. In electric and hybrid vehicles, the powertrain includes the electric motor and the computer components which control it.
While ICE powertrains still dominate the market, ArcelorMittal expects the tipping point for the adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by European consumers will come between 2022 and 2025. By this time, the technology, cost, infrastructure, and vehicle offer will have matured to a point where BEVs appeal more to the mass market than traditional ICE vehicles.
I believe that there are multiple opportunities for steelmakers in this new powertrain landscape. For example, BEV vehicles require ultra high strength steels to protect their battery cells. And demand for electrical steels, such as ArcelorMittal’s iCARe® range, will boom.
The body-in-white (BIW) of a BEV is significantly different to that of an ICE or hybrid powertrain vehicle. In BEVs, changes are required to house and secure a large battery pack and new electric motors. One of the limitations of BEVs has been the weight of the battery and the extra reinforcement needed to protect it during a crash. Today, this can add up to 600 kg to a vehicle – mostly for the battery.
Ultra high strength steels (UHSS) allow OEMs to provide the protection required without adding significantly to the vehicle’s weight. The unmatched strength of ArcelorMittal’s UHSS grades enhances intrusion resistance and reduces the absorption distance required. This provides more space for the battery pack, while the thinner gauge steel allows for more space in the battery protection system. That gives OEMs the option to include more or larger batteries, thereby increasing driving range.
Another key advantage of steel is its recyclability and life cycle cost, areas where steel outperforms other materials dramatically. Steel offers OEMs an excellent opportunity to improve the life cycle performance of their vehicles and meet regulations on the recyclability of end-of-life vehicles.
ArcelorMittal has a range of steel solutions which can be implemented in the BIW of a BEV today. They respect global crash requirements and make BEVs as safe as the best-in-class ICE vehicles on the road. They also limit the impact of weight on vehicle performance thanks to an optimised BIW architecture.
ArcelorMittal’s Global Research and Development team has developed a new S-in motion® study dedicated to BEV. The first results will be released on our newly revamped automotive website later this month.
ArcelorMittal’s revamped automotive website includes our new global product catalogue that builds on ArcelorMittal’s many years of expertise with our European catalogue. Now, for the first time, we can offer our global customers access to our complete catalogue of products and solutions online and via a mobile app. I urge every automotive stakeholder to go through the many customer cases, awards, videos, and stories. You will be inspired!”
Whatever the powertrain, steel offers carmakers the optimal balance between strength, performance, and mass reduction with the least impact on the environment. While we know that steel is the material of choice for today’s vehicles, I am absolutely convinced that it will remain the material of choice for vehicles of tomorrow.