Only the name remains – Ford on advances in auto grade metals

We still use the word metal, but there have been dramatic changes to the properties of automotive steel, iron and aluminium over the years, learns Freddie Holmes

Broadly speaking, the automotive industry has favoured the same basic materials to manufacture vehicles for more than a century. Over this time, new cars have changed drastically in virtually every sense, but at first glance, the same cannot be said for the materials selected.

In 1915, the Ford Model T sedan – generally considered to be the first affordable mass-produced passenger car – consisted of 77% iron-based metals (63% steel and 14% cast iron), 19% wood, and 4% of other materials including aluminium. Fast-forward to the current 2017 Fiesta, and there remains a high concentration of iron-based materials (62%), a mere 15% decline since 1915.

“This does not really look like much of a change,” observes Jürgen Wesemann, Manager, Vehicle Technologies and Materials at Ford’s European Research and Advanced Engineering unit. “However, if you look to the mix of material classes, there is a significant …