More Reveals of the Steel E-Motive Autonomous Vehicle Demonstration

More Reveals of the Steel E-Motive Autonomous Vehicle Demonstration

WorldAutoSteel has a 30-year legacy of steel demonstration all the way back to the Ultra-Light Steel Auto Body (ULSAB), whose engineering report is still being downloaded from our site today. The one you may remember best is the FutureSteelVehicle (FSV), results of which we launched in 2011. FSV demonstrated steel innovation for not only Battery Electric vehicles (BEV) but also Fuel Cell vehicles (FCV). Steel E-Motive is the sixth of our global steel industry programs.

So Why Mobility as a Service?

The Automotive sector is undergoing the most rapid change in 40 years. This transformation shifts our thinking – from the movement of vehicles to the efficient movement of people and goods. Over the past eight years, we have conducted extensive research into global trends such as urbanization, transport emissions reduction, as well as the waning interest in vehicle ownership among the young and old. This is especially prevalent in megacities characterized by pollution, congestion, limited parking and enormous ownership costs. Our research concluded that mobility as a service (MaaS) will grow exponentially in high population areas and would place a significant challenge on vehicle design and manufacturing. Therefore, we needed to make sure we as an industry were active and visible in providing STEEL solutions in this new market place.

Steel E-Motive will demonstrate the benefits of steel, linking the properties of the material to the required architectures and attributes for MaaS vehicles.

This program will demonstrate the benefits of steel, linking the properties of the material to the required architectures and attributes for MaaS vehicles. It connects us with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and future mobility providers (FMPs), reinforcing steel’s advantages in strength, durability, sustainability and affordability.

An autonomous BEV structure aligns perfectly with steel’s best attributes, however most new concepts trial alternative materials. The global steel industry is investing significantly in product and fabrication development to continually prepare for the next challenge. High Strength and Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) portfolios have grown from the 11 highlighted in the ULSAB program, to more than 60 grades available for use in designing and optimizing Steel E-Motive’s autonomous BEV architecture. Third Generation AHSS (3rd Gen AHSS) will have a prominent role in Steel E-Motive’s body-in-white, taking strength levels ever higher while improving manufacturability. And our industry continues to evolve Press Hardened Steels (PHS) with strength levels upwards of 2000 MPa.

Finally, efficient fabrication processes such as roll stamping, press hardening, and hydroforming use less steel and therefore contribute lower vehicle production emissions. These are the details being highlighted in Steel E-Motive, where we hope to demonstrate that only Steel can make it Real.

Steel E-Motive: A game changing, world first?

Many OEM’s and mobility service providers follow the typical vehicle development process where they adapt an existing vehicle structure to the new vehicle requirements. We don’t have that in Steel E-Motive We believe Steel E-Motive is one of the world’s firsts.

  • The first for a Level 5 autonomous vehicle that is compliant with global high-speed crash requirements.
  • The first autonomous vehicle to be a conventional high-volume stamped steel body construction, creating an affordable platform for the mobility service provider.
  • First to offer a competitive, robust, and sustainable MaaS solution.

For engineers, being first is very exciting but a little nerve wracking – there are no benchmarks out there. There is less to “hang on to.”  We’re on our own. Target setting is more challenging; we are the benchmark. Time will tell if we make it to the automotive hall of fame.

We are producing concepts for two BEVs based on a single modular platform.  SEM1 (Figure 1) is a front-wheel drive short wheelbase urban version for inter-city travel for four passengers. It has a compact design and vehicle footprint, comparable in footprint to a European B/C segment size. SEM2 (Figure 2) is an all-wheel drive, long wheelbase extra urban version designed to carry up to six passengers. It has an adaptable interior volume that can result in additional luggage capacity compared to SEM1.

Figure 1: SEM1 Vehicle Specifications

Figure 1: SEM1 Vehicle Specifications  (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)


Figure 2: SEM2 Vehicle Specifications

Figure 2: SEM2 Vehicle Specifications (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)


Body in White Steel Usage

Steel E-Motive benefits from a broad portfolio of steel grades and fabrication process, as identified by our member steel experts. The design is nearly finalized, and material selections are being evaluated against various performance targets with the representative structure shown in Figure 3 with high PHS usage at this stage in the design (as of May 2022). This is mainly driven by the safety requirements. Steel E-Motive BIW steel and steel technologies include:

  • Right steel grade in the right place
  • Significant proportion of >1500MPa grades, primarily for occupant and battery intrusion zones
  • Mixture of stamped, roll formed, roll stamped, press hardened steel and hydroformed parts
  • Spotweld, laser weld and structural adhesive

Figure 3: Steel E-Motive’s Body-in-White Steel usage as of May 2022. (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)


At the Core of the Steel E-Motive Concept Is an Innovative Battery Design

Figure 4 shows Steel E-Motive’s battery frame design’s construction:

  • Battery modules and cooling plates are mounted to an AHSS carrier frame (off-line).
  • The carrier frame is mounted to the body structure (in general assembly).
  • The BIW floor acts as the top cover and provides sealing.
  • The AHSS bottom cover plate provides impact protection.

This design provides significant cost and weight savings, as well as improved NVH. This extremely efficient package does not compromise safety and enables a flat floor with a lower step-in height.

Figure 4:  Steel E-Motive Battery package assembly. (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)


Competitive Body Stiffness with an Open B-Pillarless Body Structure

With clean sheet design, and generally less package constraints in a Level 5 vehicle, our design teams have had more freedom to engineer and optimize the crash and stiffness structural loadpaths. We used topology, optimization, and Virtual Reality tools to determine the most efficient structural loadpaths (Figure 5). The results informed the joint designs and enabled optimization of the joining and structural adhesives. These steps and the advantage of steel’s high modulus resulted in impressive performance.

Figure 4: Topology Load Path Optimization

Figure 5: Topology Load Path Optimization. (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)


The approach for achieving body stiffness was as follows. Results are shown in Figure 6 following.

  • Topology load path optimization
  • Appropriate section size, profiles, part integration and flange / joint design
  • Strut towers integrated with key body members, such as A-pillars, vertical dash brace
  • Contribution from structural battery frame and battery cover closing, roof structure trusses
  • Rigidly connected front and rear subframes
  • Optimized joining and use of structural adhesives
  • Capitalizing on the Inherent high modulus of steel

Figure 6: SEM Torsional Rigidity animation. (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)
Static torsional stiffness 38,000Nm/deg
Global trimmed BIW modes >28Hz
Local attachment static stiffness ten times bushing stiffness

Front Crash Structure Engineered to Balance the Requirements of 56kph USNCAP FFB, IIHS ODB, IIHS SORB and EuroNCAP MPDB Load cases

One of the most challenging aspects of the Steel E-Motive program has been achieving the front crash performance that minimizes occupant injury. The challenge has been compounded by the overall compact size of the vehicle and the short front overhang dimensions, meaning less space to manage and balance the required crush energy with intrusion resistance.

For the IIHS 25% Small Overlap test, we worked from the outset to achieve a barrier “glance off.” The goal is to deflect the vehicle off the barrier by the time the barrier reaches the hinge pillar. This results in a reduced amount of vehicle kinetic energy converted to crush energy. The vehicle continues after the impact with some onward velocity and kinetic energy. This strategy results in reduced intrusion to the passenger compartment and a much lower vehicle pulse (below 20g), which translates into lower occupant injury. We are very excited by this outcome, as in our benchmarking we have not seen many (if any) vehicles of this size managing to achieve a glance off for this test. Figures 7 and the bullets following provide a look at the results.

Figure 7: IIHS 25% Small Overlap test. (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)

  • IIHS “good” rating achieved (based on predicted intrusions).
  • Our strategy for IIHS Small Overlap test was to achieve a “glance off” the barrier, which is a significant challenge given the vehicle’s short front overhang.
  • Front suspension engineered to detach on impact. This is important for achieving glance off.
  • Glance off results in some continued onward vehicle velocity after the impact.
  • This results in reduced crush energy, lower vehicle pulse and intrusions = enhanced occupant protection


Figure 8 points out features of the front crash structure. Most of the crush energy in FFB and ODB is absorbed by conventional longitudinal mid-rails, which are made of cold stamped, tailor welded blank Dual Phase steels. The plan view angle of the longitudinals has been optimized to provide load reaction early in the SORB event while remaining largely inside of the SORB barrier.

Front crash structure engineered to balance the requirements of 56kph USNCAP FFB, IIHS ODB, IIHS SORB and EuroNCAP MPDB load cases.

Figure 8: Front crash structure engineered to balance the requirements of 56kph USNCAP FFB, IIHS ODB, IIHS SORB and EuroNCAP MPDB load cases. (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)


Following in Figures 9 and 10 are animations of the FFB results:

Figure 9: USNCAP 56kph Rigid Barrier – Top View. (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)
Figure 10:  USNCAP 56kph Rigid Barrier – Side View. (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)


MaaS vehicles will need to accommodate quick ingress and egress as well as provide comfort and safety for the occupants. Consequently, we have flipped the front occupant around to a rear facing configuration and provided a B-Pillarless wide door aperture to enable comfortable and quick access for passengers. This changes the approach required for occupant protection in a front crash. Effectively we are dealing with a high-speed rear impact situation for the occupant. Current rear impact tests cover lower speed rear end shunts. Figure 11 notes the key points and challenges that Steel E-Motive is designed to meet.

Different approach and considerations are required for the protection of rear facing front occupants. We are effectively dealing with a high speed rear impact event

Figure 11: Different approach and considerations are required for the protection of rear facing front occupants. We are effectively addressing a high-speed rear impact event.  (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)


Side Crash Structure Consists of Absorption and Intrusion Prevention Zones, Compensating for Large Body Aperture

The side structure includes roll-stamped martensitic door waist rail beams and a one-piece Tailor Welded Blank, Press Hardened Steel door ring outer. A- and C-pillars in line with occupants provide good side impact protection. (You can learn more about the door design in our May blog).

In the section AA schematic in Figure 12 the TRIP690 hydroformed tube interlocking door B-pillar is shown (wrapped over the rocker and cantrail). The load travels through the side impact crush “hex” beam, which is a two-piece roll formed DP590 component.


Figure 12: Side crash structure consists of absorption and intrusion prevention zones, compensating for large body aperture. (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)



Steel E-Motive Design Demonstrates Good Side Crashworthiness and Good Levels of Occupant and Battery Protection

In addition to occupant protection tests, additional side impact load cases have been simulated to ensure optimal battery protection. The design maintains a less than 30 mm clearance to the battery.

In reviewing the design according to IIHS standards and based on the predicted intrusions, we are confident this vehicle would achieve an IIHS “good” rating.  See Figures 13 and 14 following:

Figure 13: USNCAP 32kph side pole (battery protection). (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)
In addition to occupant protection test, additional side pole load cases to ensure battery protection
>30mm clearance to battery maintained


Figure 14: IIHS 60kph side barrier II (occupant protection). (© WorldAutoSteel 2022)
IIHS “good” rating (based on predicted intrusions).


Total Cost of Ownership: Vehicle and Body Is Designed for Conventional Fabrication and Assembly Processes

The Steel E-Motive body has been designed with low cost in mind to provide the foundation for a lower total cost of ownership for fleet owners. The steel body design is optimized to maximize material utilization and minimize scrap rate. Steel E-Motive is suitable for >250,000 units/year production and is compatible with existing global automotive manufacturing facilities using conventional press and fabrication tools. We are also using Life Cycle Assessment as an integral part of the engineering process to ensure that Steel E-Motive is responsible for the lowest possible emissions throughout its entire life cycle. We will report on environmental performance and sustainability as a part of our final results.

Steel E-Motive Key Outcomes

The Steel E-Motive program is delivering an exciting futuristic vehicle, optimized from the ground up for autonomous MaaS application. We are addressing key challenges through careful design, application of simulation tools and efficient use of the latest Advanced High-Strength Steels and fabrication processes. Steel’s inherent characteristics of low production emissions, lightweighting capabilities for mass efficiency, infinite recyclability and product durability underscores its suitability as an integral part of stakeholder strategies to offer sustainable mobility solutions, today and in the future.

Be sure to follow us on our journey as we enter our final months of design, engineering and reporting by subscribing at the Steel E-Motive website. We welcome your questions about this program using the Comment box below.


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Welcome to the All New AHSS Application Guidelines!

Welcome to the All New AHSS Application Guidelines!

The leading source for technical best practices on the forming and joining of Advanced High-Strength Steels (AHSS) for vehicle manufacture is released today by WorldAutoSteel, the automotive group of the World Steel Association. The AHSS Application Guidelines Version 7.0 is now online at in a searchable database, allowing users to pinpoint information critical to successful use of these amazingly capable steels. WorldAutoSteel members make these Guidelines freely available for use to the world’s automotive community.

“More and more automakers are turning to AHSS to balance the needs for crashworthiness, lighter weight and lower emissions, while still manufacturing cars that are affordable,” says George Coates, Technical Director, WorldAutoSteel. “The AHSS Application Guidelines provides critical knowledge that will help users adapt their manufacturing environment to these evolving steels and understand processes and technologies that lead to efficient vehicle structures.” AHSS constitute as much as 70 percent of the steel content in vehicle structures today, according to automaker reports.

New grades of steel that are profiled in Version 7.0 show dramatically increased strength while achieving breakthrough formability, enabling applications and geometries that previously were not attainable.

“Steel’s low primary production emissions, now coupled with efficient fabrication methods, as well as a strong global recycling and reuse infrastructure all create a solid foundation upon which to pursue vehicle carbon neutrality,” notes Cees ten Broek, Director, WorldAutoSteel. “These Guidelines contain knowledge gleaned from global research and experience, including significant investment of our members who are the designers and manufacturers of these steels.”

Editors and Authors Dr. Daniel Schaeffler, President Engineering Quality Solutions, Inc., for Metallurgy and Forming, and Menachem Kimchi, M.Sc., Assistant Professor – Practice, Materials Science and Engineering, Ohio State University, have drawn from the insights of WorldAutoSteel members companies, automotive OEMs and suppliers, and leading steel researchers and application experts. Together with their own research and field experience, the technical team have refreshed existing data and added a wealth of new information in this updated version.

The new database includes a host of new resources for automotive engineers, design and manufacturing personnel and students of automotive manufacturing, including:

  • Hundreds of pages of searchable articles that include nearly 1,000 citations of original technical research papers, providing a rich library for study.
  • Search tools and related posts fueled by thousands of industry-specific keywords that enable users to drill down to the information they need.
  • Information on the metallurgy and mechanics of AHSS grades.
  • An explanation of 3rd Gen AHSS and what makes these grades unique.
  • A primer on Press Hardened Steels, one of the most popular AHSS grades in today’s automotive structures.
  • Summaries of new research in resistance spot welding for joining AHSS of multiple grades and thicknesses.
  • New information on modelling resistance spot welding.
  • An expanded solid state welding section.
  • New information on RSW joining of dissimilar steels as well as dissimilar materials.
  • Articles written by subject-matter experts and product manufacturers.
  • Integration of the popular AHSS Insights technical blog.

The new online format enables consistent annual updates as new mastery of AHSS’s unique microstructures is gained, new technology and grades are developed, and data is gathered.  Be sure to subscribe to receive regular updates and blogs that represent a world of experience as the database evolves.

You’re right where you need to be to start exploring the database.  Click Tutorials from the top menu to get a tour on how the site works so you can make the best of your experience.  Come back often–we’re available 24/7 anywhere in the world, no download needed!

Microstructural Effects of Adding Colloidal Graphite to Al-Si-Coated PHS

Microstructural Effects of Adding Colloidal Graphite to Al-Si-Coated PHS

Optimizing weld morphology and mechanical properties of

laser welded Al-Si coated 22MnB5 by surface application of

colloidal graphite


Researchers at University of Waterloo discovered the microstructural effects of adding colloidal graphite to Al-Si coated 22MnB5 Press Hardened Steel.K-51 Laser welds were made on 1.5 mm thick Al-Si coated 22MnB5 PHS perpendicular to the rolling direction. Pure colloidal graphite suspended in isopropanol base was applied to the area being welded and the resulting graphite coating after evaporation ranged from 5 µm to 130 μm for testing. Parameters used for the weld are: 4kW power, 6m/min welding speed, beam diameter of 0.3 mm, and laser defocus of 6mm. Samples were then hot stamped by heating for 6 min to 930 ᵒC in a furnace and then water quenched at a cooling rate greater than 30 ᵒC/s.

Al-Si coating is excellent at preventing oxidation and decarburization of high strength steel at elevated temperatures. However, during welding there is diffusion of Al into the fusion zone which stabilizes ferrite at elevated temperature reducing the strength of the welded joint. Colloidal graphite coating decreases the Al content and increases C content of the fusion zone. As shown in Figure 1, The mechanism for reduction in Al content is due the graphite coating acting as an insulator to the Al-Si coating which then causes an ejection of the molten Al-Si coating from the surface. Figure 2 displays a proportional reduction of Al in the fusion zone with increasing graphite coating thickness up to 40 μm where after the reduction in Al is minimal. This is attributed to the initial reduction of Al being caused by the ejection of the molten Al-Si from underneath the graphite coating. Graphite coating greater than 40 µm does not aid in additional ejection of Al-Si and the Al-Si coating already diluted in the weld pool will not be removed.

Figure 1: Al-Si ejection mechanism.K-51

Figure 1: Al-Si ejection mechanism.K-51


Figure 2: Al and C content in weld with increasing graphite thickness

Figure 2: Al and C content in weld with increasing graphite thickness.K-51




Ferrite concentration in the fusion zone was reduced from approx. 40% with no graphite coating to approx. 2% with 130 μm graphite coating thickness (Figure 3). The increase in C content and reduction in Al content resulted in an increase in austenite being stabilized at elevated temperature rather than ferrite and therefore a larger percentage of martensite results after hot stamping. The average fusion zone hardness increased from 320 HV with no coating to 540 HV with 130 μm coating thickness (Figure 4). The weld strength of the sample with no graphite coating was 1249±15MPa whereas the weld strength with a coating of 130 µm was 1561±7MPa which matches the base metal (Figure 5). With an increase in graphite coating thickness there is an increase in weld strength that can eventually match the base metal strength.

Figure 3: Ferrite concentration in weld.K-51

Figure 3: Ferrite concentration in weld.K-51


Figure 4: Fusion Zone Hardness vs. Graphite Thickness.K-51

Figure 4: Fusion Zone Hardness vs. Graphite Thickness.K-51



Figure 5: Weld strength vs. Graphite Thickness.K-51

Figure 5: Weld strength vs. Graphite Thickness.K-51



Steel Grades

Steel Grades

Steel Grades

See the brief Tutorial on using the Steel Grades search.

How Steel Properties Influence the Roll Forming Process, , , , , , , , , , 3rdgen-ahss ahss blog forming main-blog news press-hardened-steels roll-forming roll-stamping springback steel-grades metallurgy
Resistance Spot Welding: 5T Dissimilar Steel Stack-ups for Automotive Applications, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 5t-stack-ups ahss resistance-spot-welding rsw rsw-parameters rsw-procedures stack-upsahss blog homepage-featured-top joining main-blog news resistance-spot-welding rsw-of-dissimilar-steel steel-grades tool-die-professionals metallurgy resistance-welding-processes
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