Hefty steel price increases will accelerate the shift to aluminum and other light weight materials in automobiles. News that Japanese steelmakers agreed to a 65 percent hike in iron ore prices is causing alarm at large Japanese automakers. “The consumer won’t accept price increases,” Honda President Takeo Fukui says. “We may see a quicker shift to aluminum.” Analysts estimate that Japanese car makers will pay $1.9 billion more for steel in the coming year than in the past year. Research departments at the car companies accelerated efforts to light weight future vehicles even before iron ore contracts exploded. Fukui began at Honda in 1969 as an engineer.
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