British Steel is close to signing deals with UK-based vehicle manufacturers to supply high-strength, lightweight steels for the next generation of vehicles.
Rover, Honda and Jaguar could be among the first car-makers to use the steels, which bring significant cost and weight savings and associated fuel-efficiency gains.
Rover, which has been working on its own lightweight vehicle programme for the past two years, is working with component supplier GKN to incorporate the steels in its new range of driveshafts.
Rover is looking at the use of ultra-light steels. Ford-owned Jaguar is also `actively pursuing’ their use.
Dr Tim Jones, business development manager for ultra-light steels at British Steel, said: `We expect to see the new steels used in new cars within the next two years.’ At least 10% of the body weight of a new vehicle could consist of the steels by the year 2000, he said.
Ultra-light steels are most commonly used in laser welded tailored blanks. No UK car plant has installed the technology yet, but Rover is evaluating adding equipment at its Swindon site, or may source blanks from British Steel.