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—An interview to Mr. Jean-Martin Van Der Hoeven, ArcelorMittal’s Chief Marketing Officer for Global Automotive & Mobility Solutions
Source: China Automotive Material Website
The recent years have seen a rising concern over energy resources, environmental protection and safety. With manufacturers placing more stringent requirements on automotive steel, OEMs demanding greater body weight reduction and longer service life, and automakers in increasingly urgent need of automotive UHSS, the whole auto manufacturing industry is embracing a development trend of lighter, safer, stronger and more energy-efficient and environmental-friendly automobiles. Automotive steel becomes the number 1 strategic product of both domestic and international steel makers, and hot-stamping steel in particular, owing to its excellent formability, supreme post-stamping strength and low cost, becomes the first choice of ultra-high strength materials for automakers. Furthermore, the upgrading of safety regulations on automobiles, such as introducing 25% small overlap crash test in C-IASI, and adopting more stringent side impact requirements in the 2018 version of C-NCAP, also helps make hot stamping the best option for automakers to achieve lighter body weight while improving automobile safety.
As the No.1 steel solutions provider in China, Valin ArcelorMittal Automotive Steel Co., Ltd. (VAMA) offers premium automotive steel solutions for automakers in China. With advanced technologies, VAMA provides high-end steel with smoother coating that is safer, cost-efficient and lighter, meeting the growing demand for lighter automotive steel in China and leading the sustainable development of the automotive steel industry. The China Automotive Material Website now has the privilege to invite Mr. Li Xiang, VAMA’s CTO, to share with us his thoughts on the application and development trend of hot-stamping AHSS Technology.
The new generation Al–Si coated hot stamping steel
In the over 200 years of steel being the main material to build a car, steel has been evolved for many times. The steel we see today is quite different from even 10 years ago. And steel has been proven to be the most efficient solutions in terms of weight reduction, safety increase and this in the most cost-efficient method which is also crucial for our clients that are operating in a fierce competitive environment. The pressure to reduce the fuel consumption and to meet stricter safety requirements is making more and more car makers to adjust their product development to advanced strength steel grades that are lighter and stronger, the increasing use of hot stamping steel is a good example of this trend where we can see the market increasing rapidly of the next years.
VAMA has introduced ArcelorMittal's new generation of aluminum-silicon coated hot stamping steel Usibor®2000 and Ductibor®1000, which are at the top level in the hot stamping steel market. The aluminium-silicon coated advanced high strength steel (AHSS), Usibor® 2000 is more than 30 percent stronger than the current most strong material used in car body design. And it could typically bring 10 to 15 percent weight savings when compared to existing hot stamping solutions, which will become available to the Chinese car industry allowing further weight savings and safety increase. We see that this material will be introduced in several new cars coming to the market in the next coming years replacing the currently used high strength steels, Mr. Li Xiang said.
Next to Usibor®2000, VAMA has also developed another hot stamping steel Ducibor®1000, which is a steel grade having less strength than the Usibor®2000 but shows an excellent crash ductility behavior and energy absorbtion. This steel grade in combination with Usibor®2000 allows for smart designs in which both steel grades are combined in one part, assuring strength and ductility in the right areas of the part: such as a B-pillar have a ductile zone in the lower area with Ductibor®1000 and a strong upper area with Usibor®2000 will allow to absorb energy in the lower zone in which deformation is allowed without impacting the passengers and have a strong upper area to avoid intrusion in that area causing impacts on the passengers. Now, VAMA had developed and realized Usibor®2000 and Ducibor®1000 mass production already.
The right material in the right place
Benefit from the technology transfer and support from ArcelorMittal, VAMA brings the cutting-edge technology to China, delivers the leading comprehensive steel solution to the market with the unique AHSS, UHSS and PHS steel like Usibor® and Ductibor® and DP 980 and and CP1000 and DP 1180 and full range of steel capacities.
VAMA is developing a special surface quality steels Ultragal® in mass production which can be used on outer panels such as doors and hoods, this will allow car makers to produce cars that have higher surface finishing and increased guarantees regarding corrosion protection, and provide more effective process solutions to customers, Mr. Li Xiang said.
To use the right steel in the right place, VAMA has also been promoting the innovation solutions from the very beginning of the lifecycle of a car. VAMA can provide multiple outstanding solutions with added value to car makers like light-weight solution of BIW, door ring, front module, rear module, hot stamping steel for car structure and battery pack, save the R&D time and the development cost for them.
When Usibor® and Ductibor® are combined into a single laser welded blank (LWB), the properties of a part can be tailored to achieve additional cost-effective and lightweight solutions. For example, ArcelorMittal’s S-in motion® projects for mid-size sedans and SUVs, which utilizes the hot stamping steel and LWB technology, have shown that weight savings of up to 26% are achievable for the body-in-white (BIW) compared to existing grades. The compatibility and consistency of new PHS materials and processes transferred from ArcelorMittal can ensure to meet the requirements of cost effective and high performance when using the materials.
Hot stamping has become very important to the automotive industry as a way of meeting specific crash-performance criteria and ensuring low overall weight at an affordable cost, and hot stamping steel is also developing in a lighter and stronger trend. As hot stamping steel have high strength, which is up to 2000 Mpa, automakers use the process to produce structural automotive parts such as: B-pillars; bumpers; sills; and cross members.
In the field of hot stamping steel, there are many steel grades and different technical specifications. By providing high-quality automotive steel products in great market demand with high-tech means, VAMA has become a leader in supplying hot stamping steel grades in China. For special processes like hot stamping, the core process parameters in the whole production of automotive steel are critical. We have some patents to protect the intellectual property rights of our technical invention and know-how, and ensure the product performance is guaranteed throughout the process. Parts made of steel must meet the requirements for the mechanical strength and be suitable for the subsequent coating and welding. If something goes wrong in the processing window or during the processing, the products may be substandard and fail to meet the demand of OEMs. Relying on the technical strength of global R&D center of ArcelorMittal, VAMA has gained valuable experience. By combing the experience and first-class production equipment, VAMA is able to provide high-performance products.
VAMA steel solutions for new energy vehicles
Besides, Mr. Li Xiang believes that Steel will keep on playing a huge role in the mobility of the road. Even going to electrification, a lot of EVs are concerned about weight savings on the one hand, on the other hand the cost-efficiency. Battery cases, as an example of an application solution, used in electric vehicles are mainly made of aluminum in some solutions. In this field, we have provided an innovative steel battery pack solution, which weighs basically the same with the aluminum one, but have greater impact resistance and costs less. Such a technical solution is also attractive to customers.
VAMA is more than a material supplier, we are solution provider. We have been developing several steel solutions consider the safety and weight requirements which are dedicated to the NEV market. Solutions have been developed for instance to display the advantage of using steel for battery boxes compared to alternative materials such as aluminum. With steel battery box, it will have better performance on safety as well as light weight. This solution is customized according to our customer’s design needs. We also see the solutions for different models, like front structure, rear structure, we benchmark the car models on the market, and optimize it into comprehensive solutions for NEV. VAMA has seen a very prosperous development since SOP in 2014. Thanks to the support from ArcelorMittal and Valin Steel, VAMA’s products had been finalized approval process at all major OEMs in China, these approval processes are now leading to more and more stable business. VAMA sets up offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Changchun, Wuhan and Changsha, where the major automotive industry clusters are located, to shorten the response time of business and technical services to meet customer needs quickly. As the VAMA’s window for technology exchange and quality follow up, VAMA CTS team keeps responding to customer needs at the frontline on call 24*7, to solve the technical problems in production. The advanced technologies and the rigorous quality management system, enable us to provide diverse and high-quality products and service to customers.
▲ VAMA plant in Loudi, Hunan Province
VAMA has also build a network of Advanced Technology Solutions centers with the creation of GONVVAMA (a downstream joint venture between VAMA and Gonvarri with 4 ATS senters built up in Loudi, Changshu, Shenyang and Chongqing, to provide customized services to our customers). It allows VAMA to serve easily the different automotive clusters in China and bring more value to our customers with the possibility to produce blanks and laser welded blanks to the automotive industry.
VAMA also has the support from ArcelorMittal Global R&D (with 12 R&D centers and over 1300 professional R&D engineers around the world), with lots of “the only new products in the world”. As a branch of AM in China, VAMA is able to localize these advanced new products and solutions to domestic car makers in a stable supply. It has a team of ArcelorMittal EVI specialist and VAMA CTS operating in China to support car makers to integrate the steel solutions developed by VAMA into their vehicles.
VAMA Donates RMB1,560,000 and Protective Materials (valued at RMB199,300) to Support Local Epidemic Prevention
There is great love in front of the serious epidemic. On Feb 26th, Valin ArcelorMittal Automotive Steel Co., Ltd. (VAMA), which has been concerned about the epidemic since the beginning, donated RMB1,560,000 to the Loudi municipal government and the Loudi Economic and Technological Development Zone to support local epidemic prevention and help overcome the difficulties facing the Loudi government and all sectors of society.
▲ CAO Cao Qiliang and Deputy COO Jorge Luiz Pereira Silva donating to the Loudi government on behalf of VAMA
▲ Chair of Labor Union and CFO Luo Weihua donating to the Loudi Economic and Technological Development Zone on behalf of VAMA
Faced with a severe epidemic situation, VAMA initiated epidemic prevention actions immediately starting on January 20th, understood the epidemic to be a major safety hazard, and set up a steering group to make sure all epidemic prevention work is carried out in a practical and orderly manner.
Fight the Epidemic Hand in Hand
At the donation ceremony, Mr. Zhao Yingliang, Deputy Mayor of Loudi Municipal People’s Government, expressed his gratitude to VAMA and firmly acknowledged the contribution VAMA has made for fighting the epidemic and social development. He said: “CoViD-19 is now a global concern, and we must strengthen the idea that human beings are a community with a shared future. I believe that we will win this war against epidemic with the strong support and efforts from all members of the society and responsible enterprises like VAMA.”
Mr. He Feng, Deputy Mayor of Loudi Municipal People’s Government, expressed gratitude to Mr. Jorge and other foreign friends who had provided great support in this battle, saying: “I believe we will win the battle in Loudi with joint efforts from all members of society. The economic and social operation in Loudi will soon be back to normal, and VAMA will continue to embrace better and better development in China, especially in Loudi.”
Mr. Chen Fengwen, Party Secretary of Loudi Economic and Technological Development Zone, said that VAMA has been actively involved in community construction since its SOP, demonstrating the social responsibility of an outstanding enterprise. As a model enterprise for epidemic prevention and control in Loudi, VAMA has taken many positive measures, which not only safeguarded VAMA employees’ well-being, but also provided valuable experience for all enterprises in the Economic and Technological Development Zone, contributing to their smooth production and operation in this unusual time.
Full Implementation of Prevention Measures to Overcome Difficulties
Mr. Cao Qiliang, CAO of VAMA, said: “Epidemic prevention is closely related to the safety and health of people, the production and operation of enterprises, and this is a war we must win. We want to take this opportunity to thank all of the community-based officials and citizens who have given us support and care. Shouldering corporate social responsibilities and maintaining the healthy development of the community is VAMA’s inherited duty and mission. VAMA has been paying close attention to the epidemic situation all along, and actively implemented the prevention measures proposed by the epidemic prevention office, uniting with all sectors of the society to overcome the difficulties.”
“The VAMA management team, especially the expatriate management, are paying close attention to the epidemic prevention, and we hope that our modest efforts can contribute to epidemic prevention and production resumption in Loudi. At the same time, VAMA will further seize production opportunities, maintain smooth production and raise our output to better shoulder our social responsibilities" said Mr. Luo Weihua, Chair of the Labor Union and CFO of VAMA.
As a foreign manager, Deputy COO Silva has been concerned about VAMA’s production and epidemic prevention since the epidemic outbreak. He ended his vacation in Brazil to return to Loudi and has worked at the production site since then. He said, “As the largest Sino-Foreign joint venture in Loudi, we must shoulder the social responsibility and join hands with the government to fight the epidemic in such a difficult time. We are full of confidence to see that the Chinese government has taken proper and timely epidemic prevention measures and has made remarkable progress. At the same time, we are very pleased that VAMA has participated in and contributed its own efforts to it. The Chinese government has taken effective prevention and control measures in a very short time. I am very confident and believe that the victory of the war is just around the corner.”
Heroes in Harm’s Way
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, we have seen many “heroes in harm’s way.” The medical staff brave the virus and danger, fighting for us at the frontline. Their actions and even the sacrifice of their lives are the best demonstration of the spirit of doctors and nurses. Mr. Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of ArcelorMittal, one of the shareholders of VAMA, paid close attention to the epidemic, and gave strong support by actively purchasing protective materials (valued at nearly RMB 2 million) outside China for the frontline medical staff in Hunan. Before that, VAMA had already donated 8,000 protective masks and 300 sets of protective clothing to Loudi Central Hospital and the First People’s Hospital of Loudi (valued at RMB199,300), sending support and heartfelt respect to front-line medical staff.
▲ Donating protective materials to Loudi Central Hospital
▲ Donating protective materials to the First People’s Hospital of Loudi
The fight to prevent CoViD-19 is still on, but VAMA is confident in winning the battle and will continue to operate as usual and support the community as possible as we can. We believe that the cold winter will soon be over and spring is coming!
Photos by Sun Yuanping/Deng Yipiao
Write by Cao Danli
As the leading supplier of hot stamping material in China, Valin ArcelorMittal Automotive Steel Co., Ltd. (VAMA) announced the new base price of its patented Usibor®1500 material for the first half of 2020.
In the first half of 2020, the base price of Usibor®1500 Ex Works VAMA is adjusted to RMB 9,650 per ton before VAT. Additional charges will be applied for specific dimension, coating, surface treatment, tolerances, package, coil weight, transportation and financial cost.
The new base price is based on rising price of raw material such as iron ore, as well as the rising price of alloy.
VAMA is committed to serving the Chinese auto market with advanced automotive steel products and integrated solutions to help customers achieve the challenging goals of light weight, energy saving and emission reduction. The new generation of Hot Stamping Material has been successfully developed and are available for homologation and sale.
The new base price will take effect from January 2020.
Should you or your suppliers have any questions regarding the scope of our patents and our licensing policy, feel free to contact your sales representative from VAMA or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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