The International Zinc Association (IZA) on Friday called for the use of galvanised steel in India's automotive sector to ensure durability of the final product.
Apart from durability, treatment of steel used in automobile manufacture with zinc led to a better looking car body, reduced body weight and resultant fuel efficiency.
"Galvanised steel is one of the simplest, but most effective innovations to revolutionise global automotive industry," said Canada-based IZA India consultant Kenneth De Souza.
"It protects steel from corrosive attack and acts as a lasting shield between steel and the atmosphere," he said.
"All life on earth has evolved in the presence of naturally occurring zinc," the IZA said at a joint initiative here with IIT-Bombay and Hindustan Zinc Ltd. (HZL).
Galvanised steel also lowers the body weight and increases fuel efficiency, said IIT-Bombay professor A.S. Khanna.
Indian car manufacturers use bare cold-rolled steel and its variants, while abroad it is mandatory for auto companies to use galvanised steel bodies.
"In India one has to regularly take care of the exterior of automobiles. If neglected, it could leave ugly-looking corroded patches," Khanna said, pointing to long-term benefits for customers in terms of savings on maintenance with use of galvanised steel.
International standards make it mandatory for car manufacturers to issue a five-year guarantee against "cosmetic corrosion" and a seven- to ten-year guarantee against "perforation corrosion" of the car body, he added.
Khanna's survey of 5,000 cars in Mumbai, which has high corrosion levels owing to average humidity levels of around 60 percent, revealed that cars older than five years had rust formation and "bustering". Foreign-made cars fared much better in terms of atmospheric degradation, Khanna said.
"All car models exported from India are galvanised as per regulatory norms mandated by the US and Europe, but the same models are not galvanised for the Indian market," De Souza said.
He pointed out that in the small car segment in India, only three percent had galvanised bodies, while the figure goes up to 70 percent for cars for export.
This is mainly because Indian consumers never insisted on guarantee from car manufacturer for corrosion-resistant body, a norm followed in most advanced countries.
The use of galvanised advanced high strength steels helps in the reduction of car body weight, emissions and improves safety performance along with fuel efficiency, which is in line with the requirement of the new-age cars for Indian roads, Chief Operating Officer (Smelters), Hindustan Zinc Ltd., Vikas Sharma said.