Driving Today News

Sep 15, 1999

How Much Steel is there in the Average Car?

About 1,800 pounds -- that's how much steel there is in the average car. But that isn't the end of the story. These days the steel producers and aluminum makers are battling tooth-and-nail to get the upper hand in the battle to get their products used in the production of automobiles. And according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, during the past two decades, auto makers' use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel has outpaced the growth rate of aluminum by 13%, making it the fastest-growing automotive material used to lighten vehicle weight.

"As automakers experiment with various materials to take weight out of their vehicles, they quietly have found a solution in a material with which they are most familiar -- steel sheet," said Darryl C. Martin, senior director, Automotive Applications, American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). "While we take the challenge of increased use of aluminum sheet very seriously, it is important to point out that aluminum has had negligible penetration into the auto body due to the superior performance characteristics of today's steel sheet."

Today's vehicle, on average, includes about 1,800 pounds of steel in the form of sheet, bars, and other steels, which accounts for about 55% of the vehicle mass, a proportion that has remained constant for more than a decade. About 1,500 pounds of this amount is steel sheet, of which 328 pounds are high strength steel sheet, according to American Metal Market. American Metal Market reports that the total amount of aluminum in a vehicle, on average, is 236 pounds.

Now if the institute could just help us hit our irons straighter, but that's another subject.