Since 1995, we have been trying to warn the masses that technology will hit them quickly and hard, like a double right uppercut with a finishing left hook from Mike Tyson. In 1995 this all started with the introduction of the Audi A8 Aluminum Space Frame, followed by the following:
- Early 1999 when Volvo started to use one of the highest strength steels we have ever seen, Boron alloyed, in their rear body panels/bumper reinforcements.
- 2001 many European OE’s started to use Boron alloyed steel in dash crossbeams and seat assemblies.
- Early 2003 when we first saw Boron alloyed steel used for door intrusion beams and in B-Pillars for reinforcements on many European models.
- Early 2005 we saw Martensitic (hot stamped steel or quenched steel) and Boron alloyed steel used in rocker panel reinforcements, B-Pillars and upper outer roof rail assemblies on most European and Asian vehicles.
The American Big 3, GM, FORD and CHRYSLER, started on to use Dual Phase (DP) steels and Ultra High Strength Steels (UHSS) in 2003 and did not start using Martensitic or Boron alloyed steels until late 2009 early 2010 on some of their models, for rocker panel and B-Pillar reinforcements. Asian OE’s have been utilizing Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS) in the passenger compartment inner structural reinforcements since 2008 on their economical vehicles. As for the Big 3, high grade DP is now being utilized in most GM, High Strength Low Alloy (HSLA) steels are being utilized by Chrysler and Ford is utilizing Boron alloyed steels in their economical vehicles, for A-Pillar, B-Pillar and Rocker panel reinforcements on late model vehicles (2012 and newer). Therefore, as you can see much of what the European, the German’s specifically, OE’s have been doing since late 1999 through the early part of the 2000’s are now catching on with the Asian’s and Americans. However, there is more copying going on.
Since about 2001, Mercedes-Benz has had procedures for rivets for steel-to-steel attachment mating areas where the Squeeze Type Resistance Welding arms could not gain access to the backside, silicone bronze in the open sectioning joints on outer panels. Since about 2003, BMW has required outer steel panels and inner structural aluminum to be replaced with a rivet-bond procedure with the sectioning joints to be a butt joint with insert fully bonded. On the other hand, Chrysler has had weld-bonding (STRSW and adhesives) with a bonded butt joint procedure on their vehicles since 2001 and Ford has had similar weld-bond procedures, but with a welded butt joint with backing. Over the past two to three years with the higher usage of HSS on outer panels on Toyota, Honda, and VW, they have adopted many sectioning areas on outer panels that require silicone bronze welds. Most OEM’s now require STRSW when replacing outer components and inner structural components, as opposed to MAG (Metal Active Gas) welding.
Another thing we are seeing that started with the European OEM’s back in early 2001, is the dealer sponsored, OEM trained independent collision centers. As of about 2012, we have seen Ford, Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep, and GM jump on board with a Collision Repair Program. 2014 saw Nissan/Infiniti open a program and 2015 Honda/Acura launched their program. BMW just introduced the i3 with is constructed with many Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) components. CFRP was generally used on super cars like Ferrari, Corvette ZR1/Z06, Viper, Lambos, etc, but the i3 is an electric vehicle that is intended to be economical. The 2016 BMW Series 7 structure will be constructed from ADHSS, aluminum and CFRP. Based on history, how long do you think it will be before the economical vehicles will be designed with CFRP? History does repeat itself and sets up a look at what we did not realize, because we did not invasion it. Let us look at the history of aluminum intensive vehicles:
- 1995 Audi A8 ASF is introduced
- 2003 Jaguar introduced the monocoque XJ
- BMW introduced the first hybrid construction aluminum steel Graf
- Audi followed with their own hybrid construction in 2008 with the TT
- Porsche introduced Panamera in 2010 another hybrid construction vehicle
Nevertheless, it seems not many were interested in aluminum repair procedures and equipment over the past 10 – 20 years, until now. Why you might ask, that’s and easy answer. Ford has introduced one of the most popular vehicles, the F-150, in an aluminum body over a steel frame. Now the masses will need to understand aluminum repair procedures, but as we mentioned above steel economical vehicles have advanced in construction.
Remember to review all the OEM repair information prior to beginning any repair, as there will probably be a difference between how the OEM made the vehicle and how the OEM wants the panel reattached in the repair process. We hope this article has helped the industry to better understand how the high end European vehicle designs are now influencing the Asian and American OE’s in designs of the their economical vehicles.
Feel free to contact us at anytime if you have any questions that we could help with.
Larry Montanez, CDA is Co-Owner of P&L Consultants with Peter Pratti Jr. P&L Consultants work with collision repair shops on estimating, production, and proper repair procedures. P&L conducts repair workshops on MIG & Resistance Welding, Measuring for Estimating, Advanced Estimating Skills. P&L also conducts investigations for insurers and repair shops for improper repairs, collision reparability, and estimating issues. P&L can be reached by contacting Larry at Office (718) 891 – 4018; Cell (917) 860 – 3588; Fax (718) 646 – 2733; E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Lange, PE, is president of Lange Technical Services, Ltd. of Deer Park, New York. www.LangeTech.net Jeff is a Licensed New York State Professional Engineer who specializes in investigating vehicle and component failures. Lange Technical Services, Ltd. is an investigative engineering firm performing forensic vehicle examinations and analysis for accident reconstruction, products liability and insurance issues. Jeff can be reached at 631-667-6128 or by e-mail at Jeff.Lange@LangeTech.net.