OMG: Chinese Cars Are Too Heavy!

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Usually, people are worried about China stealing their vaunted trade secrets. Now they are shocked by the prospect that China might use less steel. Steel Guru, the go to site for the heavy metal crowd, is up in arms about a Bloomberg report that the Chinese may use less or lighter steel for their cars.

Wang Li head of auto sheet research and development at Shanghai based Baoshan Steel, the company that supplies half of China’s auto steel, said that Chinese cars are about 5 percent to 10 percent heavier than competing models made by foreign companies such as Volkswagen and GM. Now isn’t that a surprise? Reducing the weight would (duh) shave 6 percent to 8 percent off fuel consumption.

Mr Wang said that an alliance of Baoshan, Geely, FAW, Dongfeng and Chongqing Changan will contribute to the weight reduction project. Southwest Aluminum (Group) Co, a unit of Aluminum Corp of China Ltd, will also take part.

Mr Wang that “We aim to cut their car weight to match overseas rivals by 2013. Our work is to make automotive steel thinner and stronger.” On average, just 28 percent of the steel used in vehicles sold in China is high strength material, compared with 50 percent to 60 percent globally.

Mr. Wang should know that just using higher tensile strength steel is just a small part of the equation. The tricky part is to build a car that is both light and safe. You want to build a car that crushes like a beverage can in just the right places, while protecting the passengers in a safe house built into the car. But of course that knowledge won’t help a steel manufacturer.

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  • Getacargetacheck Getacargetacheck on Sep 18, 2010

    I don't know anything about steel use in Chinese cars, but I do know a bit about Steely Dan and "Peg." One of my favorite tracks, one of my favorite YouTube vids. Great stuff. Thanks.

  • Daviel Daviel on Sep 18, 2010

    Chinese Steel? I'll go with the Dan of Steel anytime.

  • George B George B on Sep 18, 2010

    Thanks for the Steely Dan video. Loved how Chuck Rainey was able to sneak a little slap into the bass part by hiding behind stuff. BTW, I think the present day instrument he's playing in the video is a Modulus Quantum 5 bass which uses a carbon fiber neck in place of wood. Sort of fits with the advanced material theme of the car article.

    • H Man H Man on Sep 19, 2010

      +1. Chuck is a bass God. Love the Dan; seen them twice in The Gorge in Washington.

  • Patrickj Patrickj on Sep 19, 2010

    Vehicles that look, drive, and crash competitively, but are too heavy, is the stage of automotive development after "passenger compartment folds up and crushes passengers". Example, the first Kia Sedona minivan. Competitive seeming, but hundreds of pounds heavier than the competition.