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Steel Market Development Institute Honors Toyota Tacoma Engineer

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2016 Toyota Tacoma overview

Mike Sweers is the chief engineer for the 2016 Toyota Tacoma

Last week, the Steel Market Development Institute held a media event at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). During the event, the Institute presented the Industry Innovator Award to none other than Mike Sweers, chief engineer for the recently redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.

Not only is Sweers the Tacoma’s chief engineer, he also holds the position for the Toyota Tundra, as well as being the vice president of engineering design—interior at Ann Arbor’s Toyota Technical Center. Sweers and his team won the award thanks to their use of steel in the new truck to help improve body/frame rigidity and strength while reducing mass.

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“We looked at the design; we looked at the materials, and together, with our different groups, we realized that the solution was clear,” Sweers explained at the media event. “High-strength steel and ultrastrength steel helped us to optimize our design and reduce the mass of our vehicle.”

The steel industry took a hit recently when Ford redesigned the F-150 using primarily aluminum. Ford’s decision to turn to this material has a lot to do with aluminum’s ability to reduce weight, and therefore increase fuel efficiency. Toyota, on the other hand, decided to stick with steel—a decision Sweers says benefits both the automaker and the consumer.

“For Toyota, we could use our normal welding and assembly processes with this steel,” explained Sweers. “Thus, the investment could be held to a minimum. For our customers, it’s cost of ownership. With using steel, the repair costs and the insurance costs can be lower. And then finally, end of life of the vehicle itself. Recyclability with steel is proven. We know that when our vehicle is done that the steel will end up in new products.”

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News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)