ArcelorMittal has announced that Ford has selected its Fortiform 980 GI as the sole source of third-generation advanced high-strength steel for the 2021 Ford Bronco. The 2021 Bronco will be the first automobile in the world to incorporate this grade of steel, which is made at AM/NS Calvert in Alabama.
“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 percent. In terms of safety, we selected a higher strength material, which gives Ford a huge safety advantage.”
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, a key concern for the new Ford Bronco. In addition, the automaker found its weldability superior to the competition.
Additionally, Ford’s light-weighting strategy and safety requirements align perfectly with the high strength steel, which 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.”
“From a process perspective, because this was a coated product, we enlisted the coating experts on my team along with the product design experts,” Chintamani added. “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,” Chintamani said. “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.”
This specific patented steel product was created for applications like the 2021 Bronco, but as ArcelorMittal noted, Ford is also considering its use in other, future models.