Volvo has teamed up with Swedish steel maker SSAB to explore the development of fossil-free, high quality steel for use in the automotive industry. The collaboration makes Volvo the first vehicle manufacturer to work with SSAB and its HYBRIT initiative, which Volvo says is the steel industry’s most ambitious and advanced project in fossil-free steel development.
HYBRIT was started by SSAB, iron ore producer LKAB and energy firm Vattenfall. According to Volvo, the initiative aims to replace the coking coal needed for iron ore-based steelmaking with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. The result is hoped to be the world’s first fossil-free steelmaking technology, with ‘virtually’ no carbon footprint.
Volvo will secure SSAB steel, made from hydrogen-reduced iron from HYBRIT’s pilot plant in Lulea, Sweden, to use for testing purposes and possibly a concept car. In 2026, SSAB aims to supply the market with fossil-free steel at a commercial scale, with Volvo planning to be the first car maker to use fossil-free steel for its own production cars.
“As we continuously reduce our total carbon footprint, we know that steel is a major area for further progress,” said Hakan Samuelsson, Chief Executive at Volvo Cars. “The collaboration with SSAB on fossil-free steel development could give significant emission reductions in our supply chain.”
Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO at SSAB, said the company is building an entirely fossil-free value chain. “Our breakthrough technology has virtually no carbon footprint and will help strengthen our customer’s competitiveness,” he said. “Together with Volvo Cars, we aim to develop fossil-free steel products for the cars of the future.”
Volvo says globally, the steel industry accounts for around seven per cent of direct carbon emissions. Steel and iron production emissions account for around 35 per cent of total manufacturing emissions of the company’s traditionally powered cars, and 20 per cent of its fully electric cars.
The collaboration with SSAB is in line with Volvo’s overall climate action plan, which it says is one of the most ambitious in the car industry. The centrepiece of the plan is Volvo’s ambition to be a fully electric car brand by 2030. The company aims to reduce the lifecycle carbon footprint per car by 40 per cent between 2018 and 2025 and intends to be a climate-neutral company by 2040.