Hyundai Betting On High-Strength Steel Instead Of Carbon, Aluminum
While other automakers are putting large sums of money into alternative materials for future projects, Hyundai is instead putting their money into high-strength steel alloys for future use.
BMW is targeting carbon fiber supplier SGL, while Jaguar Land Rover is looking at aluminum intensive platforms on future models.
Hyundai, on the other hand, is spending a small fortune in Hyundai Steel on the west coast of Korea, with hopes of making it the most advanced steel production plant in the world.
No other automaker has its own integrated steel works, making the $5.5 billion spent so far a very solid investment indeed.
The public perception of steel plants in that they are metal monstrosities that churn out piles of dirt, iron ore, and other raw materials into the atmosphere.
The Hyundai Steel plant in Dangjin is the total opposite, though, with massive domes in place to keep everything held in place.
The waste materials are essentially trapped from the moment they are scooped until they make it to the blast furnace.
There are 21 miles of fully enclosed conveyor belts running the length and breadth of the state of the art facility.
The enclosing of the transport routes not only prevents airborne dust particles from escaping into the atmosphere, it also ends up saving about $20 million in raw materials that would have otherwise been basically taken away on the wind.
Roughly 50% of the steel made at he plant is used in Hyundai vehicles. The remaining 50% is sold to other markets such as shipbuilding, tubular goods, and construction.
The sales from this steel help offset the ups and downs frequently seen in the auto industry.
The biggest benefit of building an alliance between the automaker and the steelmaker is the ability to develop their own ultra high strength steel grades that can give Hyundai vehicles a bit of an edge ower other automakers.
Hyundai has made it clear that their focus is very much on this type of steel.
A perfect example of that is the new Genesis, which will come with a lightweight steel hood, which is cheaper and stronger than the aluminum hoods currently being used.
Wardsauto recently reported that Hyundai officials admit that alternative materials will be used alongside steel, especially on the luxury vehicles that they are now producing.
That said, steel will still make up about 60% of the weight in these cars, which seems to run contrary to the notion that steel is something of a dying material in the auto industry.
One of the major benefits that steel has over many other materials is that it takes less energy to make and is incredibly easy to recycle.