Light weight design is one of the main development directions of automobile, Automobile, iron and steel enterprises all over the world are developing new type of high-strength steel for vehicle use. VAMA Gonvarri Advanced Automotive Steel Solutions Co., Ltd., (GONVVAMA), a joint venture of global steel giant ArcelorMittal in China, has been committed to providing lightweight, high safety solutions for automotive steel.
During the 2018 China Car Body Benchmarking Conference held in Macau, Worldauto interviewed Jean Marc Butin, GONVVAMA CEO.
1. Would you please tell me something about your company GONVVAMA and its main business?
GONVVAMA is a joint venture between VAMA and Gonvarri, same as VAMA, we both are Chinese joint ventures of ArcelorMittal. VAMA's main business is concentrated in the upstream, providing automotive steel; while our business is more in the downstream, to provide the carmakers with downstream processing solutions, including the monolithic parts, laser welding parts and other businesses. In other words, our business is integrated in the supply chain of VAMA, which is a channel and window for VAMA to supply to OEMs.
We have more than 20 years of experience in Europe, the United States and other markets, and we are localizing it, with a very important vision to bring mature technology and products to China. We have plants in Loudi, Changshu, Shenyang and Chongqing. At present, our capacity is 20 million laser welded blanks and 55 million monolithic blanks every year. We will ensure that local market shares the latest products and technical services with the other markets around the world. Many international brands have joint ventures in China, and we will provide them with the same products as in Europe and North America. For example, we have good cooperation with most German manufacturers and other brands participating in this China Car Body Conference, we will provide the same products as in Europe and America for their plants in China.
2. What are the benefits of localizing GONVVAMA?
Today's auto manufacturing is going to be done through platform, which means that the same platform will produce cars in Europe, North America and China at the same time. If a technical solution can’t be widely used globally, the production will be affected. Some manufacturers may abandon some plans or products because they cannot supply in China. This is an important reason why ArcelorMittal has decided to localize the same technologies and products through VAMA and Gonvarri in China for local production and supply.
In China, we have an important task to help the local OEMs in China to optimize the body design and apply our latest and best products and technologies. At present, many Chinese brands are facing the challenge of increasingly stringent car crash safety standards. The standards proposed in the design of automobile body are getting closer and closer to the United States, and we can directly provide them with the mature experience in the United States and Europe to help them cope with the challenges.
3. Is the increasingly stringent car crash standards in China's auto market an opportunity for GONVVAMA?
China has the world's largest auto market, and as car safety regulations and standards become increasingly stringent in China, higher requirements for new car safety performance are indeed great opportunities for GONVVAMA. On one hand, China's new car crash test standards are now in line with those of Europe and America. For example, the US IIHS has implemented the 25% offset impact test since 2012, which poses a great challenge to the design and strength of the car body. While it is not yet mandatory in Chinese market, some domestic brands are already starting work on with this target during their car body development. For GONVVAMA, we can use years of mature experience to help Chinese brands achieve design goals at a lower cost and in a shorter time at a faster pace. On the other hand, China is implementing "One Belt and One Road" economic policy, and some Chinese brands are seeking to export their products abroad, this is primarily about ensuring that their product safety meets local regulations and standards, which is also an opportunity for our component suppliers. Because we have rich experience in international markets and have relatively more mature solutions, we can directly provide with mature models for Chinese brands.
4. Nowadays, higher and higher requirements on lightweight, safety and other aspects are introduced to vehicles. What innovative solutions does GONVVAMA have?
We are actually more than a material supplier, we are more positioning ourselves as a solution provider. We will work out the most suitable solutions for different markets and segment models around the world. For example, in view of the booming of SUV models in China, we specially launched the design scheme of mid-sized SUV BIW for the Chinese market, including the application of the most advanced materials and the most advanced assembly and processing technology. Of course, OEMs also can choose one part from such an integral plan, and use it for product performance improvement.
The solutions we offer are mainly aimed at three aspects: The first is lightweight, the solutions we offer are usually about 30% less weight than the current solutions on the market; Second, it is safer, the solution we provide can help OEMs to achieve optimal car crash performance under the premise of realizing lightweight; The third is that we will use the latest processing technology to achieve the simplification of the process on the premise of guaranteeing the processing quality, directly bring reduction of cost. For example, the concept of laser-welding integrated door ring, which we introduced, is a proven new solution, which not only effectively ensures the safety of the passengers, but also plays a significant role in reducing BIW weight and controlling the overall manufacturing cost of the vehicle. Improvement of crash performance in such scheme is remarkable for the original multiple parts solution, which can also save a lot of processing and logistics costs for carmakers.