Trade press, 2014-10-20, 07:00 PM
Highlight on the ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe booth at EuroBlech
Demonstrator from “InCar plus” project unites innovative solutions for the auto industry
The car of the future needs to be many things: greener, more economical, safer, more comfortable – in short more efficient. Plus it has to look good and be affordable. This presents the automotive industry with enormous challenges. The development project “InCar plus” offers a wide range of solutions. Soon to be presented to European customers in roadshows, it includes more than 40 new concepts for the powertrain, chassis & steering and body. The key word is efficiency: Whether it’s cost, weight, energy, or performance, all of the solutions offer a significant improvement over the current state of the art in at least one of these points. The innovations will also be on display at EuroBlech in Hanover from October 21 to 25, where the “InCar plus” demonstrator featuring many of the new products will be on show on the ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe booth (hall 17, booth E 33).
“InCar plus” is the biggest OEM-independent development project currently being undertaken by an automotive supplier and makes a strong contribution to automotive efficiency. It combines the automotive know-how of the ThyssenKrupp Group – over 40 validated solutions from 30 projects. ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe is involved in around half of these projects, with the focus on the car body.
After three years of intensive work, the results are now in: innovations and technological solutions that are tested and validated throughout the value chain, including forming and processing operations, tooling, prototyping and high-volume assembly. “This comprehensive validation of the newly developed solutions is a real advantage for our customers,” says Dr. Heribert Fischer, Director of Sales & Innovation at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe. “It means our parts and components can be integrated into production as smoothly as possible. We’ve done the work in advance and conducted large numbers of tests.”
Solutions for all areas
“InCar plus” looked at three areas: the powertrain, chassis & steering, and body. Work in the body area focused primarily on cost-effective weight reduction. “By using new steel grades, innovative sandwich products and novel processing methods, such as hot forming of closed profiles, we have been able to meet our customers’ increasing need for highly functional, cost-effective lightweight solutions,” says Subproject Manager Markus Zörnack. To ensure passenger safety is not compromised, the engineers focused particular attention on structural components such as side members, A- and B-pillars, and bumpers. They developed an entirely new weight-optimized bumper system with a hot-formed steel crash beam and optimized crash boxes. The new system is 19 percent lighter than previously used solutions, equaling the weight of average aluminum solutions, but at significantly lower cost.
Exposed panels such as hoods and doors also benefit from “InCar plus”, firstly in the form of modern products such as the steel/polymer composite LITECOR displaying outstanding bending stiffness and dent resistance – at low lightweighting costs – and secondly with the new zinc-magnesium coatings ZM EcoProtect and ZM PrimeProtect – two highly effective corrosion protection solutions for visible outer skin parts.
Wheels and seats are also lightweight and attractive. “With wheels in particular we have achieved incredible results in terms of weight reduction and cost-effectiveness by using high-performance steels and innovative manufacturing technologies,” explains Zörnack. “Compared to today’s aluminum wheels, they are lighter, less expensive, and eco-friendlier over the entire life cycle.” 20-inch hybrid wheels made from steel and carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) also set new standards in weight reduction and design.
“InCar plus offers outstanding solutions for the car of the future,” says Dr. Fischer. “It will attract great interest from our customers, opening up further potential applications and joint development projects.”
Visit us at EuroBLECH 2014 in Hanover from October 21 to 25, hall 17, booth E 33.