Fleet News

Steel firms' concept points to the future

A CONSORTIUM of steel producers has created a Ford Focus-sized car that returns 88mpg, emits 86g/km of carbon dioxide and promises a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, without resorting to lightweight materials and hybrid engines.

The 1.2-litre petrol-powered three-door concept vehicle is largely constructed from advanced high strength steels (AHSS) which are twice as strong as conventional steels, improving the car's crashworthiness.

More than 80% of the steels used in the concept car are AHSS, about 10 times higher than in current vehicles, and they maintain the rigidity of a traditional steel-bodied vehicle.

The car is the brainchild of the ULSAB-AVC (UltraLight Steel Auto Body Advanced Vehicle Concepts) a consortium of 33 steel producers, including Corus in the UK. The consortium has invested $41million developing the concepts to show mainstream car makers what can be achieved in the design and manufacture of mass-produced cars.

Frank Walker, chairman of the consortium's technical committee, said: 'The ultra-low emissions, excellent fuel economy and crash performance have all been achieved without making the vehicle smaller and without recourse to expensive lightweight materials and hybrid powertrains.'

The steels used in the concept car will save about 200kg, or almost one-sixth of the weight of a standard lower medium car.

The concept car also exploits advanced steel processing technologies to improve occupant safety.

Porsche Engineering Group (PEG) designed the concept vehicles that have already been presented to manufacturers in the United States, and PEG's Robert Koehr, ULSAB-AVC project manager, anticipates a similar reception from European car makers.

'The results show that in addition to the significant improvements offered by the latest steels, this long-established and widely accepted material also remains the most cost-effective.'

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