General Motors Co., through its venture-capital arm, General Motors Ventures, has invested an undisclosed amount in NanoSteel Co., a company known for having developed a new type of lightweight, high-strength steel. NanoSteel, a decade old privately held steel R.I.-based company, has developed a new type of steel alloy that is thinner yet stronger than conventional steel, with its structural integrity remaining uncompromised.
The so-called "nano-structured" steel could replace other lighter materials like aluminum that carmakers have been using to cut the weight of their vehicles. There is, however, a catch – the "nano-structured" steel could be more costly to manufacture.
Despite that, GM remains unfazed, as it poured an investment into a company that manufactures this type of steel, which could help it significantly improve the fuel economy of its future vehicles.
According to Jon Lauckner, GM's chief technology officer and head of global research and development and president of GM Ventures, the steel technology developed by NanoSteel is "a potential game-changer" in the auto industry's aim to cut vehicle weight and fuel consumption.
NanoSteel said that GM's investment would allow it to "accelerate the final phases of development" of its new steel. GM Ventures is the carmaker’s venture-capital unit that aims to help develop new technologies throughout the auto industry. It has invested in a car sharing service and a company that produces solar-powered charging stations for plug-in vehicles.