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Posco strives to lead automotive steel market

Korea’s top steelmaker Posco has been making aggressive investment moves to take the lead in the global automotive steel market, shipping 8.7 million tons of automotive steel to global carmakers last year, which made up 10 percent of the world’s total production of such steel.

Only 20 of some 800 steelmakers around the world are able to produce automotive steel as it requires high technical skills.
 
Posco’s continuous galvanizing line plant in Thailand (Posco)
Posco’s continuous galvanizing line plant in Thailand (Posco)

In January, the steelmaker showcased its self-developed advanced steel technologies, such as twinning-induced plasticity steel (TWIP) and hot press forming steel (HPF), at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, the US. It was the first time a steelmaker had held a technology exhibition, according to the company.

TWIP steel, mainly used for the front and back bumpers of cars, can withstand up to 100 kilograms per square millimeter of pressure. It also has up to three times higher formability.

HPF steel endures up to 150 kilograms per square millimeter and boasts better formability under high temperatures. It is mainly used for the center pillars of vehicles.

To meet increasing demand from automakers for light and safe materials, Posco recently developed Giga Steel, an ultrahigh strength steel that can withstand a load of 100 kilograms per square millimeter.

Posco is also expanding its investment in local and overseas automotive steel production facilities, according to the company.

Earlier in May, the steelmaker completed the rationalization of Korea’s largest cold rolled automotive steel plant in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province.

The plant is optimized to produce high quality Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) which is used for automotive inner panels and outer panels. Demand for AHSS is growing, with the AHSS introduction rate surpassing 20 percent in Korean and reaching 35 percent in North America, said the company.

Posco also completed a continuous galvanizing line plant in Thailand in August. With an annual production capacity of 450,000 tons, it is Posco’s first automotive steel plant built in Southeast Asia.

Through such aggressive moves, the company aims to sell 10 million tons of automotive steel per year, from 2018, it added. 

By Lee Hyun-jeong (rene@heraldcorp.com)

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