Third-Generation Steel to Improve Driver Visibility

April 24, 2018

A third-generation of steel poised to hit the market in 2020 could improve driver visibility compared to aluminum on the market.

April 24, 2018—With aluminum becoming a more prominent fixture in vehicle structures, the U.S. steel industry is developing a third generation to compete. And a large part of steel’s selling point is its ability to improve driver visibility.

A key part of that is the A-pillar, which is located in the passenger compartment of a vehicle. The A-pillar is the structural component of the car that is on the right and left of the windshield and helps to hold the roof in place. Pillars are the vertical supports of a car’s window area.

Over the years, the A-pillar has gotten larger to accommodate roof crush in accidents. But as it has grown larger, it has also hindered the driver’s view, especially when the drive is checking to switch lanes.

When aluminum is used for the A-pillar, the pillar has to be wider because aluminum is a lower-strength material. To increase the strength, the piece needs a larger width, says Jody Hall, vice president of the Steel Market Development Institute.

“So aluminum will give the car a lighter weight but impairs [the driver’s] view while driving,” she says. “Automakers can also get more shape to the passenger compartment from using steel.”

With steel, Hall says the automaker would have flexibility in designing the A-pillar, B-pillar and C-pillars in a vehicle because of the ability to mold steel into different shapes.

Hall estimates in order for aluminum to catch up to the strength and formability of current steels on the market, like hot-stamped steel and dual-strength steel, the industry will have to wait about 20 years.

There can also be mass reduction in weight  in vehicles from high-strength steel because the thickness needed in the frame is much smaller, Hall says.

Sponsored Recommendations

Best Body Shop and the 360-Degree-Concept

Spanesi ‘360-Degree-Concept’ Enables Kansas Body Shop to Complete High-Quality Repairs

How Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrow Collision Center, Achieves Their Spot-On Measurements

Learn how Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrison Collision Center, equipped their new collision facility with “sleek and modern” equipment and tools from Spanesi Americas...

ADAS Applications: What They Are & What They Do

Learn how ADAS utilizes sensors such as radar, sonar, lidar and cameras to perceive the world around the vehicle, and either provide critical information to the driver or take...

Banking on Bigger Profits with a Heavy-Duty Truck Paint Booth

The addition of a heavy-duty paint booth for oversized trucks & vehicles can open the door to new or expanded service opportunities.