ArcelorMittal’s Fortiform 980 GI has been selected by Ford as the sole source for third-generation advanced high-strength steel being used in the 2021 Ford Bronco. This sporty remake of one of Ford’s iconic vehicles will be the first automobile in the world to incorporate this grade of steel, which is made at the AM/NS Calvert plant in Calvert, Alabama.
The new Ford Bronco will hit the streets 50 years after previous models. Production is expected to begin in February, with the first Broncos being available in the second quarter of 2021.
“Ford called us to see if we could develop this specific type of steel. We were actually already in the development phase so we discussed the opportunities, as well as where they could utilize this material and for which vehicle,” said Michael Lizak, global technology coordinator for Ford at Automotive Product Applications R&D. “Ford’s chief engineer gave us a goal to decrease the total vehicle weight reduction by 10%. In terms of safety, we selected a higher strength material, which gives Ford a huge safety advantage.”
This grade of steel has a balance of strength and ductility. Its weldability is superior to other grades of steel and it can weld to most other steels. This steel is a lower gauge than the original DP800 and DP600 found in the earlier Bronco, which enables the weight savings, but it has better formability.
“We had a product that was engineered to have very good weldability desired by Ford,” said Jayanth Chintamani, director of automotive product research at ArcelorMittal R&D. “Ford conducts many tests before granting the product application ready status. No other steel grade had been tested this much because this steel grade was so new and unique.”
Once the product was designed, the research and development team in Chicago worked closely with the joint venture partners at AM/NS Calvert to make the steel on their upgraded line. “By designing the product at R&D and bringing it to Calvert for manufacturing, we are adding value to Calvert JV operations and ArcelorMittal at large,” said Chintamani.
Ford’s 2021 Bronco is returning as the flagship of a new all-4×4 family of rugged SUVs, in both two-door and four-door configurations, with both engineered for long-term, off-road performance and dependability. The vehicle will feature the EcoBoost engines with 7-speed manual transmission and be available with 35-inch tires, giving it a large ground clearance, water-fording capabilities and a best-in-class 94.75:1 crawl ratio. Two 4×4 systems are being offered with all Bronco models — a base setup and an advanced 4×4 setup.
The Bronco will feature quick-release stowable roof panels and doors on select versions, as well as off-road drive technologies and segment-exclusive digital trail mapping. It will also be infinitely customizable with more than 200 factory-backed aftermarket accessories.
Inside, all Bronco models are built for action with gauges and controls clearly visible and intuitive. With off-road functionality paramount, materials are tough and rugged. In addition, it comes with advanced topographic trail maps and more than 1,000 curated trail maps powered by class-exclusive trail content from NeoTrek’s AccuTerra Maps, Trails Offroad trail guides and FunTreks trail guides.
“The trail mapping system available on Bronco is truly a game-changer in the off-road community,” said Mark Grueber, Bronco consumer marketing manager. “It works online or off on either of the navigation-capable 8- or 12-inch SYNC systems, allowing users to select one of hundreds of available curated trail maps to map out and then track, capture and share their adventures with others.”
The base MSRP is $29,995, and a Bronco can be reserved at ford.com for $100.
The 2021 two-door and four-door Bronco will be assembled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant. The Ford Bronco Sport SUV will be made at Hermosillo Assembly Plant in Mexico.