The evolution of the design of a laminated steel/composite bumper beam is presented. The composite beam replaces the steel front bumper system in the 89 Cadillac C-car sedan. Different design concepts were evaluated using CAE tools. The use of a thin steel cover plate on a composite substrate decreased the total weight of the system by over 50 %. Data from testing of prototypes shows that the energy performance of the laminated beam is as good as that of the original steel system for the different loading conditions.