When creating the all-new INFINITI QX50, engineers went into molecular detail to ensure it was the best it could be in every aspect, and the science behind the world’s first high-tensile steel used in the QX50 has just received a prestigious global award.

Stronger steel produces a number of clear benefits for the customer. The overall weight reduction improves fuel economy, while the increased strength builds on existing safety. Since the steel is stronger, the sections become smaller and more interior space is available, producing environments that are more open for the driver and passengers.

One of the challenges of very high-tensile steel is it can be difficult to work with in the manufacturing process, limiting the complexity of parts and adoption in a new vehicle. In order to make this world’s first steel compatible for mass production, engineers worked directly with a steel supplier to formulate a brand new, high-strength, lightweight and highly formable steel for the bespoke INFINITI chassis. The new 980MPa steel, created using a specially developed formula, has superseded the traditional 590MPa steel.

Around 27 percent of the QX50 body is made from special steels – an increase of 21 percent over the previous generation – resulting in a 23kg mass reduction overall. Within the front of the car alone, the adoption of high-tensile steel has provided a 13kg weight reduction, while frontal energy absorption improved by 10 percent.

As part of the work around the new steel, an academic paper on “The application of 980MPa advanced high strength steel with high formability” was chosen for The SAE/AISI Sydney H. Melbourne Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Automotive Steel Sheet. Awarded by SAE International, a global nonprofit organization based in the U.S., which has more than 128,000 participating engineers and researchers working in aerospace, passenger car and commercial vehicle industries.

At an award ceremony held at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan, Kentaro Ishiuchi, from the INFINITI and Nissan Technical Center North America, collected the prestigious award on behalf of the team behind the academic paper.

The award highlights the pioneering work that went into the INFINITI QX50, which is powered exclusively by the VC-Turbo engine, the world’s first production variable compression ratio engine.

With the QX50 being the first car in the world to use 980MPa steel, INFINITI will look to adopt it in more applications in the coming years, and the goal is to achieve 25 percent or more of the vehicle weight made from advanced high-strength steel, benefiting customers with reduced weight, improved fuel economy and enhanced levels of safety.