When Niki Lauda competed in the first motor race of his career in 1968 – and placed second – he was not yet sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari. Back then, his car was the polar opposite of that souped-up luxury model from Maranello, Italy: It was a Mini. And for that little car, Lauda’s second-place finish was by no means unusual. The 1960s was a successful decade for the Mini – it brought three different champions to a first-place finish in the world-famous Monte Carlo Rally. In addition to impressing on racetracks, it also graced the silver screen – alongside the legendary Michael Caine in The Italian Job, for instance.
Why did the Bavarian car manufacturer choose zinc-magnesium coating instead of conventional zinc coating? For Frank Bosch, the answer is obvious: “This new coating provides our vehicles’ inner and outer paneling parts with many more advantages than conventional zinc coating does: better processing, better corrosion protection, and a thinner zinc layer that lets us conserve resources.”
Bosch is the Key Account Manager for the thyssenkrupp Steel specialists in Duisburg. He oversees commercial and technical activities for the BMW Group account. “ZM EcoProtect is thinner than conventional coating, yet provides the same corrosion protection for the surface of the roof and fenders as conventional coating does. This new coating also does an even better job of protecting the highly vulnerable cut edges as well as areas vulnerable to stone chipping.” Moreover, BMW was also impressed with ZM EcoProtect’s improved processing characteristics. “These save costs at the pressing plant,” says Bosch. “Minimized abrasion reduces the effort required for cleaning and extends the service life of the press.”
As a result, in order for implementation to succeed (as it did with the MINI), the customer needs to be involved in the introduction of the new product from the very beginning. The process goes quickly. That is hardly surprising – a fast pace suits the automotive industry well, particularly in the case of the speedy little MINI. Many automotive manufacturers have caught on to the trend of zinc-magnesium surfaces – and many others are figuring out how and when they can switch to these surfaces, too.
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