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Company News, 2007-08-28, 02:00 PM

IAA 2007: ThyssenKrupp Steel as development partner to the auto industry

At the IAA Frankfurt International Motor Show, Hall 4.1, Booth C19, Germany’s biggest steel manufacturer will be demonstrating how it supports its customers not just with high-quality steels but also with design and processing expertise. Following the acquisition of the Umformtechnik group from the former Automotive segment of the ThyssenKrupp Group, ThyssenKrupp Steel has become the only steel producer capable of covering the entire development and production chain from material to finished part. At a press conference before the motor show the Duisburg-based company also announced it would be starting up a further hot-dip coating line in China in early 2008.

Process chain expertise
Since October 1, 2006, the Umformtechnik group has been managed by ThyssenKrupp Steel under the name Metal Forming. The companies in the group produce body and chassis stampings and assemblies, counting all major auto manufacturers among their customers. In fiscal 2005/2006 Metal Forming achieved sales of 1.4 billion euros and employed around 8,000 people. Its operations are concentrated on Europe, where it has sites in Germany, France, the UK, Poland, Spain and Turkey. The first steps towards an overseas presence have been taken with plants in Brazil, China and India.

ThyssenKrupp Steel and the Umformtechnik group have worked together successfully several times in the past. “In the future we will focus our innovation efforts even more closely and further shorten the development cycles for new, mature solutions for automotive OEMs,” said Dr. Ulrich Jaroni, Member of the Executive Board of ThyssenKrupp Steel AG.

The highlights on the Frankfurt show booth include the prototype of a new tailgate with integrated bicycle rack, an innovative cockpit structure, and the world’s first use of tailored blanks technology in hot stamping. InCar, a research and development program launched by the ThyssenKrupp Group to promote innovation in auto manufacture, will also be unveiled to the public.

The Multipurpose Tailgate with integral bike rack is the result of joint development work by ThyssenKrupp Steel and Webasto AG, a leading manufacturer of roof and temperature management systems based near Munich. The rack is located underneath the rear window and is invisible from the outside. When needed, the panel can be opened to reveal the rack, which is immediately operational.

The new cockpit structure was developed in conjunction with Johnson Controls, a leading supplier of automotive interior equipment. The new structure is roughly 20 percent lighter than a current production benchmark and is cheaper to produce. Because it takes up less space, it also offers additional design possibilities for the front passenger area. Steering column manufacturer ThyssenKrupp Presta AG, a company from the Technologies segment of the ThyssenKrupp Group, was also involved in the project.

In collaboration with Audi a new solution has been developed for crash-relevant parts made by the hot stamping process. Car manufacturers are using this process more and more often because it produces parts which are both strong and light. The use of a tailored blank composed of different steel grades makes it possible to manufacture parts which display not only high strength but also high ductility in defined areas in order to absorb crash impact energy in a controlled way. Audi is using this solution in the body platform for its A5 and A4 models.

The R&D offensive InCar combines the know-how of all companies of the ThyssenKrupp Group having expertise in auto production. InCar is an ideas and solutions pool for body, chassis and drivetrain products. Several alternative innovations are being developed for parts, assemblies and systems offering advantages in terms of weight reduction, cost-efficiency, comfort or performance. Car manufacturers can select the solution that matches their requirements from the InCar pool. The wide spectrum of InCar products ranges from A-pillars to valve control systems.

Internationalization and capacity expansion
The further internationalization of ThyssenKrupp Steel is targeted on the Central and Eastern European markets and the NAFTA region. The company is currently building a new steel mill in Brazil with a capacity of five million metric tons per year. Three million tons are to be processed in the NAFTA region and two million tons in Europe. Based on its technological expertise ThyssenKrupp Steel is hoping for success with overseas car manufacturers: “There is strong demand for highend steel products in these markets which local producers are unable to meet in full,” explained Dr. Ulrich Jaroni, Board Member responsible for automotive operations. Looking at Central and Eastern Europe, Jaroni points to the currently high growth rates in auto production. “We aim to use the capacity expansion provided by the new steel mill to increase our deliveries to plants in these countries.”

ThyssenKrupp Steel will start up a further hot-dip coating line in China in March 2008. TAGAL II will have a capacity of 430,000 tons, the same as TAGAL I, which went into operation at the end of 2003. The 150 million euro investment is the company’s response to growing demand for premium hot-dip galvanized products in the auto sector. TAGAL I and II are joint ventures with Chinese partner Angang New Steel.

This press release is also available on the internet at www.thyssenkrupp-steel.de

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