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Global Automotive & Mobility Solutions

October 2020

ArcelorMittal selected as the sole Gen 3 steel supplier for the 2021 Ford Bronco

 

After years of thorough research, perseverance and strong customer relationships, ArcelorMittal’s Fortiform® 980 GI has been selected as the sole source of 3rd generation advanced high-strength steel (also referred to as HF steel) for the revitalized 2021 Ford Bronco in North America. This sporty vehicle will be the first automobile in the world to incorporate this grade of steel, which is made at AM/NS Calvert in Alabama.

 

Ford’s main objectives were to create a lightweight and safe vehicle and the company enlisted ArcelorMittal to achieve these critical goals. 

“Ford called us to see if we could develop this specific type of steel. We were actually already in the development phase so we discussed the opportunities as well as where they could utilize this material and for which vehicle, “said Michael Lizak, global technology coordinator for Ford at Automotive Product Applications R&D. “Ford’s chief engineer gave us a goal to decrease the total vehicle weight reduction by 10%. In terms of safety, we selected a higher strength material which gives Ford a huge safety advantage.” 

So why is this steel the perfect solution for the Bronco? Ford places a huge priority on the ductility of steel and this grade comes from a family of high formability grades, meaning it has an excellent balance of both strength and ductility. In addition, the weldability was superior to the competition. After performing an inclusive weld study with Ford, it was clear that Fortiform® 980 GI could weld to it itself and to most other steels. Additionally, Ford’s lightweighting strategy and safety requirements align perfectly with this solution. The high strength steel is a lower gage than the original DP800 and DP600 found in the earlier Bronco, which enables weight savings with complex shape through better formability. 

ArcelorMittal’s co-engineering capabilities, which fostered the close collaboration between ArcelorMittal R&D and Ford’s design and welding experts played a pivotal role in this project. 

“We had a product, that was engineered to have very good weldability desired by Ford,” said Jayanth Chintamani, director, automotive product research, ArcelorMittal R&D. “Ford conducts many tests before granting the product application ready status (AR). No other steel grade had been tested this much because this steel grade was so new and unique.” 

 

The 2021 Ford Bronco made of Gen 3 steel supplied by ArcelorMittal boasts a sporty look and can navigate difficult terrain (credit Ford)

ArcelorMittal R&D in East Chicago was charged with the product design. 

“From a process perspective, because this was a coated product, we enlisted the coating experts on my team along with the product design experts,” added Jayanth. “We then made sure that the target-critical processing parameters during various stages of industrial manufacturing were met with support from process experts at R&D as well.”   

The R&D team also worked closely with the joint venture (JV) partners at AM/NS Calvert as the steel is made on their upgraded line. “We brought this technology from ArcelorMittal R&D in East Chicago to the JV line in Calvert, Alabama,” added Jayanth. “By designing the product at R&D and bringing it to Calvert for manufacturing we are adding value to Calvert JV operations and ArcelorMittal at large.” 

It has been 50 years since a new model of the Ford Bronco hit the roads, but the automotive community is already giving the off-roading vehicle high marks. The sleek aesthetics of the vehicle, coupled with its ability to navigate difficult terrain, has been a big draw. In fact, there are already 150,000 preorders, despite the poor economy. Although a crash analysis has only been simulated on a computer, experts believe the 2021 Bronco could receive an IHSS Safety Pick+.  

The expected production date is scheduled for February 2021 and the new Broncos will be available in showrooms beginning in Q2 2021. 

 

The 2021 Ford Bronco comes with the capabilities of removing the roof and doors for the full Bronco experience (credit Ford)

This specific patented steel product was created for applications like that of Ford Bronco’s. However, additional future Ford vehicles, along with other OEMS, are in the preliminary phases of exploring how the world-class Fortiform® 980 GI can meet their stringent lightweighting and safety targets for the vehicles of tomorrow. 

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