Mazda has just managed to become the first carmaker to successfully manufacture car components using 1800Mpa ultra-high tensile steel. This comes after a joint venture with Aisin Takaoka Company Ltd and Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. The project is part of Mazdas continued research into vehicle architecture that is both highly rigid and lightweight.
The first car making use of the new technology will be the Mazda CX-5, a crossover SUV that is due hit the showrooms early next year.
Initially it is only the bumper beams that will be manufactured using the new steel. They will weigh 4.8kg less than their predecessors, while being 20% stronger. The structure is energy absorbing.
The major benefit of using high strength steel is, of course, that it allows auto parts to be both stronger and thinner at the same time. Reducing the weight of any major auto part has a direct effect on the cars responsiveness and dynamic performance.
There is a trade-off involved here: in the past lightweight often meant reduced collision protection. Mazda, however, has done extensive research into the collision protection abilities of the new high strength steel and the company is satisfied that it actually provides better protection while weighing less.
Since Mazdas announcement, another Japanese car manufacturer, Nissan, has also announced that it will in future use high strength steel in the production of its vehicles.
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