Auto components India - - CONTENTS - Text: Ashish Bha­tia

Gala­vanised steel proves to be eco­nom­i­cally vi­able for lighter and safer body con­struc­tion

Reg­u­la­tions in Europe, USA and var­i­ous other ad­vanced mar­kets call for the use of gal­vanised steel in the man­u­fac­ture of car bod­ies. The ben­e­fits of this in­clude the abil­ity to with­stand cor­ro­sion for long, and thus al­low lighter and safer body con­struc­tion. At a re­cent event or­gan­ised by Hin­dus­tan Zinc in as­so­ci­a­tion with In­ter­na­tional Zinc As­so­ci­a­tion (IZA), at­ten­tion was drawn to­wards the ten­dency of In­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers to use coated steel over gal­vanised steel to man­u­fac­ture car bod­ies for lo­cal sale. With In­dia poised to be­come the fourth largest car man­u­fac­turer by 2020, and a man­u­fac­tur­ing hub for small cars (in­clud­ing a global de­sign cen­tre for small cars), the fact that cars sold in In­dia up to Rs.10 lakh do not use gal­vanised steel in their body con­struc­tion. The non-gala­vanised In­dian cars in­cur high main­te­nance and will not be with­stand­ing su­per-crashes.

“The fact that the use of gal­vanised steel is lim­ited to car bod­ies that are ex­ported out of In­dia, while In­dian cars get churned out as non-gal­vanised vari­ants which deem our roll-outs ranked a step be­hind the other ex­ported cars,” men­tioned Ken­neth De Souza of In­ter­na­tional Zinc As­so­ci­a­tion – Global, while speak­ing at the event. “I know many a car own­ers would read­ily vouch the fact that cor­ro­sion makes its way in a mat­ter of few years af­ter pur­chase, which in-turn af­fects their pock­ets ei­ther on mend­ing or re­plac­ing the parts,” he stated.

What makes it nec­es­sary for man­u­fac- tur­ers to use gal­vanised steel on cars ex­ported are the reg­u­la­tions in those mar­kets which call for it. This of­ten leads to the man­u­fac­tur­ers in In­dia do­ing an ex­port run at the plant, halt­ing the line and clean­ing the dies, and then start­ing with the In­dian run ac­cord­ing to De Souza. De Souza added, “There is an amount of cost saving achieved with the steel body coat­ing with the us­age of weld­ing cur­rents com­par­a­tively low to that of zinc coated bod­ies.” Draw­ing at­ten­tion to the use of gal­vanised bod­ies for decades across Europe, North Amer­ica, Ja­pan and Korea, De Souza said that ve­hi­cle buy­ers in such mar­ket are given ‘Anti-cor­ro­sion and Per­fo­ra­tion war­ranties’ for as long as 15 years. He touched upon the move­ment started by Ralf Nader in US to de­mand cars that would last longer rather than have their bod­ies lose to cor­ro­sion in a couple of years, and which turned into a na­tional move­ment, lead­ing to an man­i­fold im­prove­ment in the re­li­a­bil­ity of cars.

Ad­vo­cat­ing the use of gal­vanised steel in the con­struc­tion of au­to­mo­biles, Dr A S Khanna, Pro­fes­sor , IIT Mum­bai, drew at­ten­tion to­wards the use of gal­vanised steel in the con­struc­tion of build­ings and struc­tures. While he claimed that the same is bounded by reg­u­la­tions, he stated that a de­tailed anal­y­sis was done by his team. A sam­ple of 500 cars was iden­ti­fied for the study in Mum­bai. Th­ese cars were in the price band of Rs 5-10 lakh and 5-10 years old. The study re­sults de­picted that the re­sis­tance to cor­ro­sion of a ve­hi­cle body, made of steel sheets, can be in­creased man­i­fold by the use of gal­vanised steel. The cost dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion will be very less and af­ford­able even when gal­vanised steel be­comes a reg­u­lar

fit in the car . Khanna averred, “Though the tests were re­stricted to pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles, the find­ings also stand true for di­verse prod­uct port­fo­lios such as two wheel­ers and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles.”

Cat­e­goris­ing cor­ro­sion is­sues in ve­hi­cle bod­ies as blis­ters, sur­face rust and im­per­fec­tions, Khanna opined that four ar­eas most sus­cep­ti­ble to cor­ro­sion were the bon­net (hood), boot (deck lid) or hatch, rocker(sill) panel and door pan­els around han­dles. The re­search, ac­cord­ing to Khanna, also stated that out of the 5 year old cars, more than 60% were found to have a prob­lem of sur­face rust. “Sur­face rust not only re­duces steel strength, com­pro­mis­ing safety in an event of im­pact but also af­fects the fuel ef­fi­ciency re­sult­ing high emis­sions that would lead to a re­duc­tion in the To­tal Cost of Own­er­ship (TCO). The ar­gu­ment fur­ther stems from the fact that gal­vanised cars have demon­strated sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved per­for­mance; to the tune of 70% higher than non-gal­vanised cars of the same model rolled out in the same year,” ex­claimed Khanna. He fur­ther said that a car with a gal­vanised steel body (with 5 year anti-per­fo­ra­tion war­ranty) would need a paint touch-up in 5 years, with Rs 9000 saving when com­pared to non-gal­vanised ones.

Ac­cord­ing to Vikas Sharma, COO (Smelters), Hin­dus­tan Zinc, there would have been some con­straint in the Zinc sup­ply chain a few years ago, but the same has been dealt with. He added that his com­pany is in dis­cus­sions with auto steel man­u­fac­tur­ers like Tata, JSW and Posco to­wards the man­u­fac­ture and sup­ply of gal­vanised steel. High­light­ing the man­ner in which the zinc coat­ing sac­ri­fices it­self over the years, pro­tect­ing the steel be­neath even if the paint coat­ing above is dam­aged, Vikas Sharma drew at­ten­tion to the 9 mil­lion met­ric tonne pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity through an open pit mine in Ra­jasthan. He also em­pha­sised that those possessing the Con­tin­u­ous Gal­vanis­ing Grade (CGG) for Au­to­mo­tive steels, are in­creas­ingly join­ing hands with apex bod­ies, like the In­ter­na­tional Zinc as­so­ci­a­tion, In­dia Lead Zinc De­vel­op­ment as­so­ci­a­tion (also key ad­vi­sor to the Bureau of In­dian Stan­dards) with a com­mon goal to mod­ify the nec­es­sary code spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

With an av­er­age In­dian car cost­ing far more than an av­er­age Euro­pean or Amer­i­can car due to taxes and du­ties, it is but nat­u­ral for an In­dian car buyer to ask for a car that lasts long enough if not longer than the cars found in ad­vanced mar­kets. Rather than wait­ing for the need to be man­dated by the gov­ern­ment or the ju­di­ciary, it may be well worth to ex­pect In­dian au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers to equip cars that cost up to Rs10 lakh with zinc coated steel if they have been lim­it­ing the use of gal­vanised bod­ies only to those that are ex­ported.

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