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Gen 3 Steel Used In 2021 Ford Bronco Looks Like A Real Game-Changer

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Back in October, we reported that parts of the 2021 Ford Bronco would be constructed from a new, third-generation lightweight steel made by a company called ArcelorMittal. Formally called Fortiform 980 GI, the advanced, high-strength steel, produced at AM/NS Calvert in Alabama, is making its debut in the 2021 Ford Bronco. Recently, The Drive spoke with ArcelorMittal to find out what makes this new steel so special, as well as a potential replacement for aluminum in vehicles like the Ford F-150.

While steel has been used to make vehicles since the beginning, this latest Gen 3 steel is rather innovative in that it can be fashioned into thinner, lighter panels without losing a bit of strength. In fact, ArcelorMittal has found a way to make its steel up to 35 percent thinner while still maintaining its structural rigidity. The only real problem with the Gen 3 steel is that it’s somewhat difficult to produce in mass quantities.

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Michael Lizak, ArcelorMittal’s Global Automotive Technology Coordinator, explained that right now, the company must work closely with automakers like Ford, as the latter is actually responsible for much of the hardening process. Once stamped into a shape, the steel is then baked in an oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

This is a very delicate process that requires extreme precision to pull off properly, but the benefits are undeniable. But for now, the new Ford Bronco uses very little Gen 3 steel in its construction – roughly five percent of the total steel used. Regardless, it’s enough to shave roughly 150 pounds off the total weight of the Bronco, which is significant.

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Most interestingly, Lizak believes that the company’s innovative new steel is so good, it might eventually convince FoMoCo to make the bodies for its F-150 from steel once again. And that would be a major, but perhaps very beneficial, reversal.

We’ll have more on the Bronco very soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Bronco news and ongoing Ford news coverage.

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Written by Brett Foote

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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27 Comments

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  1. Interesting…I’m sure Ford has run the cost to benefit numbers versus ballistic grade aluminum that they currently use. I wonder how the numbers compared?

  2. “””Ballistic grade aluminum”, what a joke, ford’s advertising, slick, bs artists have out done themselves!! The 6000 series aluminum being used by ford will not stop bullets, or frags, it is NOT thick enough-nor is is sandwiched with other materials. The new ford aluminum body panels will NOT STOP a 22 long rifle round. The fact that the military has used a lot of similar metal in backing for “space armor”, and in some ship hauls, in no way makes it “special”. The cost/comparison numbers? How about the longevity numbers, how long the average f150 will last the customer? this is a number I’d be most interested in, as I don’t plan on being shot at by a pelet gun wielding thug!

    • How does the aluminum bed hold up in, “minor accidents”? what is the cost of repair, as compared to steel? I’ve heard they [aluminum beds] are literally torn in otherwise minor rear end collisions. Are they easy to fix and/or the same or less cost to do so??

  3. Since ford has been using aluminum I’ve heard alot of NOISE about this use. Well I live in a county in Virginia where guys actually use there trucks and those ford trucks look just fine after 5 or 6 years of hard work. But lets wait and see what happens with development of light steel. 😆

    • I must say, your post is well thought out, and well supported! Has someone started their new years celebration a little early in the day?? God bless you anyway.

  4. I see excitement in new technology. This new material is a challenge if supply houses have to developed heat treat booths and stamping plants. I guess it’s like battery manufacturing. We all start over.

  5. I was promise my grandfathers ford pickup when i got my license but it’s rusting out after only 2 years. I hope this new steel will be rust free but I’m shure Ford won’t want that as to hurt future sales .

  6. I know everyone bad mouths the aluminum bodies.

    But I like them. NO RUST!!!!!!

    Either are gonna dent, neither are structural. But it sure as hell is nice that it doesn’t rust!!!!

  7. Just spend the $200 a year to coat you’re frames before the salt his the road and you’re fine. It’s great to know the bodies are made of aluminum. I don’t mind plastic bumpers because they can’t rust, and boiling water pops out dents. I’ve got 2 gallons of por15 and an pump sprayer in my garage. Takes a half hour once a year to do a good job and keep your frame going forever

  8. I’m not sure the math works, but I’d love it if it did. 5% of the steel used saves 150lb, which means using this new steel for everything could save 3000lb.

    Can you imagine a two door Bronco with a 310hp ecoboost that weighs 1000lb?

    • A 1000 pound bronco with the 2.7 ecoboom? the ecoboom dry/stripped 440 pounds-now add the minimum accessories….balsa wood for everything else….add transmission, tires/wheels/brakes/diff….????

  9. Henry Ford I found a piece of metal in a wreckage of a race car that was made in Europe called Vadnium steel that was stronger then steel being made here, when he found the manufacturer who made it he bought the company and moved their equipment and crew to Michigan and became the first company in America to mass produce vadnium steel in America. Expect Ford to buy this company and start making it for the masses.

    • You’ve mis-spelled Vanadium steel, henry ford did use it in the Mod T; however, Vanadium steel is in wide use, and has been for a very long time. This new gen 3 steel appears to be a game changer, stronger and lighter with the ability to stamp quality parts. I hope we see extensive use in the auto industry, not to mention things such as bridges, ships etc.

  10. A 1000 pound bronco with the 2.7 ecoboom? the ecoboom dry/stripped 440 pounds-now add the minimum accessories….balsa wood for everything else….add transmission, tires/wheels/brakes/diff….????

  11. Please publish some information about the new Ford Bronco “see-thru” front doors. Is it an option (what models, price, color, etc.).

  12. Only 5% saves 150lbs, that’s great. It probably can’t replace the high strength steel parts and I wonder if it is also quiet. The quiet steel might not matter as much in a Bronco with loud tires and lightweight doors, but in a Lincoln Aviator it does.

  13. I have worked in manufacturing for 40 years and I am not convinced that single-sourcing a very specific steel grade is good for the consumer. Steel costs have risen dramatically since mid-October and likely will stay high well through Q1. Aluminum has also suffered through price increases but having multiple mills producing 6000 series aluminum sheet means competition will keep prices lower. A new F150 made with the new steel will cost you more, not less.

    • Not to worry, the chinese will rip off the intellectual property and will be making gen3 in large quantities. I wouldn’t be surprised if the commie govt. doesn’t subsidize the mfg of the the gen 3 (dumping). One can only hope our politicos don’t allow this ripped off [intellectual prop], to be dumped, or allow this product to be imported into the U.S. (or any of their family members for that matter). The gen 3 steel is in competition with the aluminum, thus competition is alive and well, my guess: gen 3 steel will/does cost less than aluminum, and will stay that way. Ford will not pass along the savings to the customers in the U.S., but may do so in other countries, as they do now.

  14. Steel is much easier to form and weld, not to mention the type of welding used in steel fabrication, is much cheaper than Mig utilized with aluminum. Complex shapes are much more easily stamped (to a high spec) than aluminum. Aluminum is MORE expensive than steel, and more expensive to fabricate. GM isn’t using aluminum in their truck beds, are they all rusting out? NO, how about Dodge, are their truck beds all rusting out? NO. I know, someone will respond with “I have a friend with a truck, and his is rusting out, or my second cousin really uses he ford for work etc. and has had no problems”….. I’m sure there is at least one guy that still has a YUGO, but this is far from representational of the Fleet.

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