Changes in the way the auto business is conducted will impact on bar steel usage for powertrain components. Productivity in engine, transmission, axle and steering gear plants has increased due to outsourcing of blank-making operations and increased use of near net shape manufacturing. Application of statistical process control and the demands created by increased automation are acting to raise manufacturing standards and highlighting problems caused by material variations. Customers want better performance without significant sacrifices in fuel economy, so many components are more highly stressed. The implications of these trends on steel selection, specification and processing will be discussed.