GM Invests In Light-Weight Steel Company

GM is sinking an undisclosed amount of money into a steel alloy that would help the automaker comply with stronger federal fuel economy standards.

DETROIT (AP) — The investment arm of General Motors Co. is sinking an undisclosed amount of money into a company that is developing high-strength steel that's lighter than current steel.

GM said Monday that it has invested in The NanoSteel Co., of Providence, R.I., because the company has promising technologies that could help the automaker comply with stronger federal fuel economy standards. The government is gradually increasing gas mileage requirements so that by 2025, cars and trucks will have to average 54.5 mpg.

NanoSteel said Monday that its metal isn't being used in the automotive industry yet, but sheets of steel are currently in production trials. The company says its steel can save hundreds of pounds of weight per vehicle and will let automakers continue to use steel as opposed to switching to lighter materials that may cost more and have limited availability.

The stronger alloys let engineers use thinner steel while keeping the structural strength of current steel, GM said in a statement. "NanoSteel's structured alloys offer unique material characteristics that are not available today," Jon Lauckner, GM's chief technology officer and president of GM Ventures LLC, said in a statement.

Neither company would say how much money GM invested in the 10-year-old NanoSteel.

GM joined lead shareholders EnerTech Capital and Fairhaven Capital Partners, along with five existing investors, to fund NanoSteel's Series C financing round, GM said in the statement.

Shares of GM slipped 24 cents to 19.81 in midday trading Monday. The carmaker's stock is trading near its lowest levels since selling for $33 in an IPO almost two years ago. It has traded between $18.72 and $27.68 in the past year.

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