Economic Analysis of the Ultra Light Steel Auto Body 982399
Aluminum and polymer composites have long been considered the materials of choice for achieving mass reduction in automotive structures. As consumer and government demand for mass reduction grows, the use of these materials, which have traditionally been more expensive than the incumbent steel, becomes more likely. In response to this growing challenge, the international steel community has joined forces to develop the Ultra Light Steel Auto Body (ULSAB). The resulting design saves mass and increases performance relative to current steel unibodies. Although mass savings are not as dramatic as those achieved by alternative materials, this design offers the potential to be accompanied by a manufacturing cost reduction.
The projected manufacturing piece and investment cost for the ULSAB are investigated using technical cost modeling. The results presented here examine the elements that contribute to the cost, including treatments for stamping, hydroforming, assembly and purchased parts. Particular emphasis is placed on the procedure for laying out the design of the manufacturing and production facility based on the respective manufacturing processes, production rates, labor requirements, equipment and tooling costs, and so on.
The results of this paper provide material suppliers and automakers with a framework for understanding the technical and economic advances that are possible with the implementation of the ULSAB technology approach. Through this understanding, decisions regarding investments of limited human and financial capital can be implemented.