Steel will continue to be essential in electric vehicles’ bodies

Vehicle makers know that the efficiency of an electric car is closely linked to the design of its body. This is why more and more industry experts are anticipating a future of bodies specifically designed for the electric vehicle. In this context, steel will continue to be important. According to AISI, one of the world's main steel institutions: bodywork shops will continue repairing mostly steel bodywork in the electric vehicles to come.

According to AISI, vehicle makers have realized that transforming conventional bodies for hybridization or electrification, by incorporating an internal combustion engine or an electric one, plus batteries, is not efficient.

The most widely accepted idea now is that, for an electric vehicle to be efficient, it needs a specifically-designed bodywork. This is where steel is going to play an important role, in order to protect the high voltage batteries in case of collision. Bodywork and paint garages, which are used to dealing with the effects of major accidents on the vehicles’ bodies, know well the performance of this material.

The key question is, then: ¿What are these “specifically-designed” bodies going to be like? In the past few years, the need to “lighten” the body’s weight by using new, alternative materials, which are supplementary to steel in order to reduce its use, has decreased the predominance of this material. However, according to AISI, at some point it might be more interesting to invest more in the battery and performance of the vehicle rather than in materials lighter than steel.

According to AISI, 50% of the bodywork of electric vehicles will continue to be made of steel. Amongst the main reasons for this, we can find the lower relative cost of this material or its high use efficiency achieved by the industry. But there is one more reason: studies show that “as opposed to internal combustion vehicles, the energy consumption on BEV is less sensitive to the increase of the vehicle’s weight, in part due to the energy regenerative brake. As a consequence, in order to get more autonomy, it can be beneficial to add capacity to the battery rather than to reduce the weight of the vehicle by using high-cost premium materials. This such compensation will become evident as the battery system costs decrease during the next decade as the energy density of the battery increases”.

In other words, bodywork repair shops will continue to work with steel on the upcoming electric vehicles.