Tuesday, September 17

The future of cheap electric cars will depend on steel technology

In order to reduce the cost of electric vehicle production, steel manufacturer Nippon Steel from Japan studied the idea of ​​a completely new steel body 30% lighter than the current one.

Since the Model T was put into mass production by Henry Ford 100 years ago, steel has always been the most important material of the car industry. However, the introduction of new regulations as well as issues related to the range of electric cars made car companies have to look for lighter weight materials. And aluminum emerged as a top choice.

The future of cheap electric cars will depend on steel technology
In the past few years, many of the “big guys” in the car industry have switched to the material, for example, Ford has used aluminum as the main material on the F-150 pickup line – the company’s best-selling model. in America. For steel producers in the world, this is really a nightmare. This is especially true for Nippon Steel when their main customers are automobile manufacturers.

For years, the weight of cars has increased over time. According to consulting firm A2Mac1, the weight of this vehicle has increased by about 400kg after only the last two decades. The reason is attributed to the increase in self-protection in collision situations as well as the comfort of vehicles, such as the electric seat seats that incorporate massage capabilities. Besides the explosion of SUV and pickup segment.

The future of cheap electric cars will depend on steel technology
But the tightening of emissions regulations has forced car manufacturers to adopt a “weight loss” plan for their products. As for electric cars, the pressure will be even greater because the current battery technologies are judged to not have enough energy to carry the extra weight as well as take EV away. So it is not surprising that materials such as aluminum or higher grade carbon fiber, magnesium are being targeted as the future material of cars.
Akihito Fujita – an analyst from Nomura Research Institute said that steel will only account for 62% of the average weight of a car by 2025. This figure is nearly 10% lower than the 70% of 2015. saying that the shift to new non-steel materials is an inevitable.

Difficulties piling up difficulties. Steel giants such as Nippon Steel, which is struggling to compete with China’s low-cost products, now face a turnaround from the car industry.
To cope with this situation, Nippon Steel established a new research department to find breakthrough solutions. And the result of the leading steelmaker in Japan is the creation of a 30% lighter steel body structure – equivalent to the aluminum structure.
Named as NSafe Auto Concept, this work is an attempt to keep customers in mind – automakers continue to stick with steel. It is known that the above structure is made up of 6 different types of steel. Among them, the hardest type has a tolerance of up to 2000Mpa, which is equivalent to the pressure of 204kg per square millimeter – several times the current popular steel in cars.

The future of cheap electric cars will depend on steel technology
Not stopping there, engineers at Nippon Steel also discovered a number of new methods to redesign the components of a car that cost less material. For example, they can combine thinner body panels with reinforcement bars to reduce the weight of the door set by 20% without reducing stiffness.
That is just the beginning because the next goal it sets is to use high density steel to halve the body weight. This is considered a limited break because steel can only be either hard or light but not at the same time.
A secret that has been revealed, is that Nippon Steel will try to mix a small amount of plastic with metal that they have been producing for decades.

The future of cheap electric cars will depend on steel technology
The future of cheap electric cars will depend on steel technology

 According to Bloomberg, although aluminum is a focus of the move, the metal has not reached the expectations of forecasters. Tesla has returned to steel on the first model Model 3. While the current best-selling EV model is the Nissan Leaf, which is mainly composed of steel. Toyota also has a similar choice with its PHEVs. The important reason given is that the cost of aluminum will make the cost of cars increase significantly. So, this material usually only appears on high-end car products.