Volvo is arguably a leader in the race to becoming a climate neutral automaker, introducing a raft of new cutting-edge measures to build and recycle cars, all in the name of reducing emissions. Today, it revealed plans to develop fossil-free steel in its vehicle production by teaming up with Swedish steel maker SSAB.

The automaker told Automotive News Europe that, of the total CO2 emissions from the material and production of its cars, approximately 35% comes from creating the steel and iron needed for a gasoline- or diesel-powered model. This number drops to 20% in a full electric car.

By its estimation, Volvo procurement head Kerstin Enochsson said the switch to fossil-free steel will reduce those numbers by at least 90%. Volvo will start testing the new steel (made from hydrogen-reduced iron) sometime this year, with the goal of using it on a concept car in the near future. It plans to be the first automaker in the world to build cars with fossil-free steel.


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Volvo is the first automaker to collaborate with SSAB as part the latter’s HYBRIT initiative. The objective is to replace metallurgical coal (or coking coal, traditionally needed for iron ore-based steelmaking) with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen.

Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said: “As we continuously reduce our total carbon footprint, we know that steel is a major area for further progress. The collaboration with SSAB on fossil-free steel development could give significant emission reductions in our supply chain.”

The partnership with SSAB is focused on Volvo’s European production. Enochsson said the company will identify other fossil-free steelmakers that can supply its factories in the US and China, but no timeline has been provided as yet.