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Kobe Steel Lightens the Car

Advertorial in The Economist
December 5, 2015

Kobe Steel Lightens the car

Advanced materials from Kobe Steel render service in a growing range of automotive applications. High-strength steel supplied by the company reduces vehicle weight without compromising performance or safety. An industry rarity, Kobe Steel also supplies automakers with aluminum, providing a choice of materials for evolving needs.

Kobe Steel has long been a leading supplier of steel for vehicle bodies and for springs, for nuts and bolts, and for other automotive components. Recently, it has captured attention with advanced high tensile strength steel that permits reductions in vehicle weight and thus contributes to lower fuel consumption and decreased output of carbon dioxide.

"Our weight-reducing steel," explains Kobe Steel president and CEO Hiroya Kawasaki, "combines exceedingly high tensile strength with excellent formability.The steel's formability allows for using it in components of complex shapes, traditionally unamenable to high tensile strength steel. We expect this steel to permit further weight savings."

More breakthroughs are in the offing at Kobe Steel, according to Kawasaki. He cites a promising advance in welding technology.

"We've developed technology," reports Kawasaki, "for welding steel and aluminum together. And we are working with automakers to put that multimaterial breakthrough onto the road."

Global partnering

Joint ventures with US and Chinese partners anchor Kobe Steel's manufacturing presence in the world's largest automobile markets. Ohio-based PRO-TEC Coating Company, a 50:50 joint venture with United States Steel Corporation, uses Kobe Steel technology for galvanizing and annealing automotive steel.

In China, a Kobe Steel joint venture with Angang Steel Company Limited will supply automakers in China with cold-rolled high-strength steel sheet. Production will get under way at a plant in Anshan, Liaoning Province, in 2016.

Aluminum is also a focus of Kobe Steel's vehicle-related manufacturing in the United States and China. Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, LLC, produces forged suspension parts in Kentucky. And Kobelco Automotive Aluminum Rolled Products (China) Co., Ltd., will begin producing aluminum sheet for vehicle bodies in Tianjin in 2016.

High tensile strength steel and aluminum alloys from Kobe Steel reduce weight throughout vehicles.


Kobe Steel, which posted net sales of ¥1.9 trillion in the year ended March 31, 2015, is a leader in its namesake industry and in nonferrous metals. It has also built large positions in industrial machinery, in construction equipment, and in engineering services.

Better known in some product sectors as KOBELCO, Kobe Steel supports customers in diverse industries with continuing technological advances. In the automobile industry, that means lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles. And that’s good news for car owners and for the global environment.

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