Volvo and SSAB to develop fossil-free steel vehicles

Volvo Group and SSAB have signed a collaboration agreement to develop what they claim will be the world’s first vehicles to be made of fossil-free steel.
Loading, Hauling & Excavation / April 13, 2021
By Liam McLoughlin
The fossil-free steel will be used in Volvo trucks and construction equipment
The fossil-free steel will be used in Volvo trucks and construction equipment

The companies say that newly made fossil-free steel from SSAB will be an important complement to the traditional and recycled steel used in Volvo’s trucks, construction equipment and other products.

Volvo plans to start manufacture this year of the first concept vehicles and machines with steel from SSAB using hydrogen. Smaller-scale serial production is anticipated to start during 2022 and for a gradual escalation towards mass production to follow.

The two Swedish companies will also work together in research and development to optimise the use of steel in Volvo’s products with regard to weight and quality. The pair say they will develop a number of products of fossil-free steel with the goal of reaching serial production within a few years.

They add that the fossil-free steel will be made by a completely new technology using fossil-free electricity and hydrogen, and that the result will be a much lower climate impact and a fossil-free value chain. The steel industry considers that the need for steel will grow significantly in the long term and that newly made fossil-free steel will be needed to meet this demand.

The collaboration framework also includes a review of common logistics solutions that can contribute to reducing SSAB’s environmental impact from internal and external transports. The ambition is to use Volvo vehicles that are powered by batteries or fuel cells.

SSAB aims to start supplying the market with fossil-free steel at a commercial scale in 2026. Development of a fossil-free value chain from mine to finished steel products will take place within the framework of the HYBRIT initiative, which SSAB has been driving with LKAB and Vattenfall since 2016. A pilot plant has been in place since August 2020 and this will soon start to produce smaller volumes of sponge iron made using hydrogen. This steel will be used to make the steel for use in this collaboration.

“We are determined to be a climate-neutral company by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement,” said Martin Lundstedt, president and CEO at Volvo Group. "This means that our vehicles and machines will be emission-free when in operation but also that we will review the materials, like steel, used in our products and will gradually switch to fossil-free alternatives here as well. This is an important step on the road to completely climate-neutral transports."

Martin Lindqvist, president and CEO at SSAB, said the partnership is a "giant leap" towards an entirely fossil-free value chain all the way to the end customer.

"We will work together with our customers to reduce their climate impact while strengthening their competitiveness," Lindqvist added. "We are constantly looking at how we can become a more comprehensive supplier of fossil-free steel to customers like Volvo. We see a new green revolution emerging."

For more information on companies in this article