Fossil free steel is already used in the automotive industry, thanks to SSAB.
Fossil free steel is already used in the automotive industry, thanks to SSAB.

The future of the automotive industry: Eco friendly cars are here to stay

Eco friendly cars are changing. With collaborations in the automotive and steel industry joining major players together, the dream of a carbon-neutral car is getting closer.

The automotive industry has long been in the headlights when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions. But recent decades have witnessed many groundbreaking developments. Today, an eco-friendly car is synonymous with a cool and trendy car, much thanks to early adopters such as Tesla, which launched its first electric car in 2008.

And since then, the interest in electrical cars has accelerated.

 

Being eco friendly means more than renewable charging

“We’ve seen an obvious global trend the last few years, showing that drivers want to decrease their climate footprint,” says Jonas Adolfsson, who heads projects within mobility business development at SSAB.”

The representative body for registered new car sales in Europe has also just released its aggregate statistics for the third quarter of 2022, and it is clear that market share for fully electric cars has increased significantly. Compared to the same period last year, the number of sales increased by as much as 22 percent, to a total of 259,449 units.

But an electric car charged with renewable energy is no longer good enough for either conscious consumers or the car industry.

“Until recently, the focus on vehicles has been on the emissions coming from the exhaust pipe. Now, there’s a growing demand for the whole car to be sustainably produced,” says Adolfsson.

Today, a sustainably produced car adds brand value.

Jonas Adolfsson, Business Development Mobility

 

Fossil-free steel can enable significant steps towards a greener automotive future

The future trend is to develop more sustainable solutions, all the way from the material the car is made of – from body shells made of scrap-based steel, to plastics and windshields made of recycled sources. However, these are not enough to reach the commitments outlined in the United Nations Paris Agreement of 2015. Which is why fossil-free steel is set to have a big impact on the automotive industry’s transition to a more sustainable future.

“A car made of traditional steel has, so far, been the most environmentally friendly alternative. But because so much steel is needed to produce a car, there is actually a lot to gain from fossil-free steel. Fossil-free steel is fully recyclable without losing its properties or with the risk of being down-graded and also produces, by far, the lowest Global Warming Footprint (WWP),” says Adolfsson.

On average, 900 kilos of steel is used to make a car.

That equals 1.8 tonnes of CO2, or about the emissions produced from 7400 km of fuel consumption. That’s why fossil-free steel matters.

 

Being eco friendly means daring to differ

To achieve change, every industry needs role models who dare to rethink and try new models. SSAB has initiated important partnerships with world-leading car companies, such as Volvo Cars and Mercedes-Benz, to kick-start the development of fossil-free, eco friendly cars. And, just as importantly, support the manufacturers to become carbon dioxide-neutral along the entire value chain.

“Many manufacturers are really making big efforts to follow the Paris Agreement and our customers are constantly pushing us to challenge ourselves to achieve improvements,” says Adolfsson.

One of these is Polestar, a Swedish electric car company which has set a goal of produce a climate neutral car by 2030. The initiative, called the Polestar 0 project, aims not only to reduce all the greenhouse gases emitted during the car’s production, but to eliminate them in every aspect of production and end of life, all the way from conception the extraction of raw materials to customer delivery and recycling.

“There are things that can be fixed, and there are things that cannot. Not without a complete overhaul, in any case. The issue of decarbonization is one of the latter,” states Head of Polestar 0 project Hans Pehrson. “We need to build new sustainable solutions from the ground up, starting with securing sustainable sources to build high-end materials. Now is the time to move away from our dependency on fossil sources towards solutions without greenhouse gas emissions.”

Polestar wants to set a new, climate-neutral standard with its first carbon neutral car and sees collaborations in the industry as one of the key factors for success.

“If enough of us believe, I'm convinced it can be done,” Pehrson concludes.

Together, we are building an entirely fossil-free value chain all the way to the end customer. We are proud to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions in collaboration with our new partners.

Martin Lindqvist, CEO, SSAB

Collaborations are key for change

Fossil-free steel will have a big impact on the development of a future carbon neutral car as well as the whole vehicle value chain. SSAB has until today teamed up with several big companies in the automotive industry, to develop carbon dioxide-neutral value chains. Mercedes-Benz, Volvo Cars and Polestar are three car manufacturers that are taking the lead in changing the automotive industry’s impact on the climate, working closely with SSAB on HYBRIT technology.

Did you know?

Global electric car sales reached 3.2 million in 2020.

A 400 percent increase in five years.

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