Steel makers are offering lighter, more durable products to maintain their dominance against aluminum and plastics producers as the preferred raw material used in vehicle production. Right now steel and iron account for an estimated 71 percent of the material used in a car. By comparison, aluminum accounts for 9 percent and plastics, including carbon fiber, for 8 percent, according to estimates from Frost & Sullivan.
However, steel makers are facing tougher competition from aluminum and plastics makers, which are both poised to increase their shares by 2020 (see chart below). The use of aluminum is forecast to grow to 11 percent in 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan, while steel and iron use is foreseen falling to 65 percent by 2020. Aluminum is being used more often because it is up to 30 percent lighter than steel, IHS Global analyst Julia Mihalkina said.