Stainless Steel, John DeLorean and Elon Musk
What do John DeLorean and Elon Musk have in common? Well, quite a lot as it turns out! Both men created their own manufacturing companies from scratch, identified the need to create more fuel-efficient vehicles and used stainless steel to create iconic vehicles
You may not have heard of John DeLorean but will almost certainly recognise the name. The DeLorean is one of cinema's most famous vehicles, featuring in the 1985 blockbuster movie Back to the Future. Made using stainless steel body panels and released for public sale with a 25-year warranty, the DeLorean is exquisitely beautiful and quite unique. It's well worth checking out the new Netflix documentary Myth & Mogul: John DeLorean for an in-depth look into his remarkable life and career.
Elon Musk's company Tesla also used stainless steel to produce its signature Cybertruck. The exoskeleton of the vehicle is made using a proprietary stainless steel alloy, which is referred to as 'ultra-hard 30X cold-rolled stainless steel'. Strong, corrosion-resistant and cost effective, the metal creates a 'near-impenetrable' exoskeleton, enhanced with Tesla's armour glass. When asked why stainless steel had been chosen for the Cybertruck, a Tesla spokesperson replied simply: "If there was something better, we’d use it."
The same stainless steel alloy has been used to create Starship, the interplanetary space vessel created by SpaceX, another company founded by Musk. Originally, Starship was planned to be built from carbon fibre but a number of factors resulted in the change to stainless steel.
Cost was one of the most compelling factors: carbon fibre works out to be much more expensive than stainless steel, especially as a significant proportion of carbon fibre cannot be reused.
Another important factor is the temperature resistance of stainless steel as compared to carbon fibre. Stainless steel can withstand temperatures over 800 degrees celsius without any reduction in performance: compare this with carbon fibre, which can only withstand up to 150 degrees celsius. It can operate up to brief peaks of 200 degrees celsius but this causes the material to weaken.
Though stainless steel is now rarely used for car bodies, it is used extensively for component parts like exhausts, trims, springs, grilles and many others. Our new stainless steel G bolt is also widely used for securing such parts onto the bodies of trucks and other vehicles.