20 years of cooperation with Chinese OEM FAW Car

Steel has been supplying lightweight materials for production since 1997. Partnership will continue in the future.

Steel from Duisburg: FAW Car and thyssenkrupp have been cooperating for 20 years. For the production of bumpers the Chinese OEM has selected a lightweight material that is being used for the first time on the Asian market.

Over roughly the last 60 years Changchun has developed into the center of the Chinese auto industry. It all started back in 1953 with the opening of the country’s first car factory – the “First Automotive Works” (FAW). It produced just a single model, a mid-size truck. But demand soon grew, and production was expanded to include buses and coaches. Today FAW also produces small trucks, heavy goods vehicles, cars in all classes, as well as tailored chassis for buses. Production is no longer restricted to Changchun: The company now has 18 further sites throughout China. As the range expanded, so did production figures: FAW supplied 2.55 million vehicles in 2015. The First Automotive Works has become the First Automotive Group Corporation, but the abbreviation FAW has remained, with the word “Car” added. The OEM has a partnership with thyssenkrupp going back many years.

First steel from Duisburg used 20 years ago

In its efforts to adapt to changing market conditions and meet its customers’ wishes, this pioneer of the Chinese auto industry started cooperating with international manufacturers. While originally FAW Car produced only its own brands for exclusively Chinese customers, the company now has a global presence. Since the turn of the millennium licensing agreements have been concluded with Toyota, Mazda and GM. But the first cooperation dates back to 1991 with VW. And that is also when business relations were established with an important German materials supplier – thyssenkrupp. “We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of our cooperation this year,” says Dr. Yan Wang, chief engineer for stamping at FAW Car. “When we produced the Audi 100 in 1997, we used steel from Duisburg for the first time.”

The right material at the right time

The global auto market has changed since then, and so have demands on cars in general. Requirements on materials have increased, from composition to processing to applications to weight. When FAW Car launched a project for a new model a few years ago, the company looked for a suitable material for the bumpers. Dr. Wang found what he was looking for in the steel grade MBW 1900 from thyssenkrupp Steel Europe. “This manganese-boron steel combines several requirements that are important for the part,” says Dr. Wang. It displays outstanding hot forming behavior, extremely high strength and very high deformation resistance. And thanks to its lightweight properties it also lowers the weight of the bumper.

The timing was perfect for both companies. “MBW 1900 attained production maturity at the same time the new project was launched at FAW Car,” says Sadet Kökcü. He is head of local technical customer support and represents the Duisburg-based steel company in China. But it was to be some time before MBW 1900 was used for the first time on the Asian market. “The processing parameters had to be adapted to the material,” says Kökcü. “To ensure successful hot forming, experts from Germany advised the colleagues here in China intensively.”

MBW 1900 is a special grade of very high strength. But the material on its own is not enough. “The fact that in addition to the material thyssenkrupp also provided intensive engineering support was a key argument in FAW Car’s decision on which supplier to use,” says Shunbing Yu, a customer support employee at Steel. “We are proud that with our MBW 1900 we are the first steel manufacturer to supply materials to China for volume production in partnership with FAW Car.” But Dr. Wang sees another reason for FAW Car’s decision in favor of the product from Duisburg. “It’s our longstanding, trusting relationship. The perfect combination of outstanding expertise and a dependable partnership.”