The study, conducted by sustainability consultant PE International, measured the lifetime environmental impact of replacing the B-Pillar in the latest Ford Fusion model with a new AHSS design. The B-Pillar is one of the most critical components in a vehicle body, protecting occupants by helping to maintain structural integrity in a side impact.

Traditionally made from press-hardened boron steel, it has been replaced in the new model with a hydro-formed component made from a mix of DP800 and DP1000 steels. The molybdenum in the steel supports modern forming processes while imparting exceptional strength, reducing the amount of steel required and making the new B-Pillar just as strong but 4 kg lighter.

The environmental benefit was calculated using life cycle assessment (LCA) to measure the total lifetime environmental impact from manufacture and use through to end-of-life. A number of environmental metrics relevant to vehicle performance were used, covering climate change, air pollution and energy resource use. 

Cost savings

The results generated indicate that the new design has a lower impact across all environmental metrics assessed, with a saving of 29% in Global Warming Potential (GWP) compared with the previous component. Over an estimated lifetime mileage of 200,000 km. This equates to a GWP saving for both B-Pillars of 165 kg CO2e for a petrol drivetrain and 141 kg CO2e for a diesel drivetrain. This is a saving equivalent to the emissions from driving the vehicle for over 1,000 km. The new B-Pillar also performs better in side impact crash tests and Ford estimate that it has yielded a significant cost saving. 

” This study shows that replacing traditional steel with molybdenum-alloyed AHSS in vehicle manufacture generates significant benefits across the three pillars of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social,” said Tim Outteridge, IMOA Secretary-General. “It is important to remember that this study examined B-Pillars alone and further savings are likely to be attributable to AHSS and other molybdenum-alloyed steels in a number of other components.”

The report can be viewed in full on the IMOA website.