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Mazda Debuts Ultra High Strength Steel in CX-5

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author photo by Jeffrey Archer October 2011

When the Mazda CX-5 goes on sale next year in the United States, the compact crossover will tout an interesting feature most buyers will never even see: ultra-high strength steel bumpers. According to Mazda, the steel is part of its new fuel-saving SkyActiv technology blitz, and will improve crashworthiness while increasing fuel economy.

While many automakers are hesitant to use ultra-high strength steel due to its high cost, Mazda felt the material's lighter weight and increased rigidity justified the expense. High-strength steel has also been criticized because its increased rigidity makes it less pliant, meaning it absorbs less energy in collisions. But Mazda says it overcame this obstacle with a completely new design that absorbs energy more efficiently. That, coupled with welding techniques optimized specifically for the CX-5's production, ensure the crossover's bumpers provide maximum rigidity while still absorbing force from collisions.

According to Mazda, the CX-5's bumpers are 20 percent stronger and 10 pounds lighter than they would be using traditional steel. While the decreased weight won't translate into major fuel savings, Mazda's SkyActiv program is designed to decrease consumption bit by bit, rather than all at once like hybrid or fully-electric powertrains. That means every bump in fuel economy is important to the automaker, no matter how small.

In addition to saving weight and improving crash performance, bumper beams made from ultra-high strength steel will also improve vehicle responsiveness. Mazda points out that since the beams are incorporated into the body structure at the farthest point from the vehicle's center of gravity, their weight and composition can have a significant impact on performance and responsiveness. Since the beams lighter and more rigid, they'll benefit the CX-5's handling and cornering abilities.

Interestingly, just days after Mazda proclaimed its planned implementation of ultra-high strength steel, rival automaker Nissan made a similar announcement. It appears the proliferation of high-strength steel will likely continue throughout the automotive industry.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Mazda Debuts Ultra High Strength Steel in CX-5 - Autotrader