Volvo has introduced what it claims to be the world’s first vehicle made of fossil-free steel: a fully electric and fully autonomous load carrier for use in mining and quarrying. The company announced that more vehicles will follow next year as part of a series of concept vehicles and components using fossil-free steel.
The vehicle was unveiled on Wednesday, October 13th, at a green steel collaboration event in Gothenburg. Volvo said that it focused on construction trucks first because steel and cast iron account for around 70 percent of these vehicles’ weight.
The steel was produced and supplied by SSAB, a Swedish steelmaker with which Volvo teamed up earlier this year. Using HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology), SSAB replaced coking coal that is generally used in iron ore-based steelmaking with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. The result was the world’s first fossil-free steelmaking technology with a minimal carbon footprint.
The development of the new vehicle advanced at an incredible pace. SSAB delivered the steel in August, and now, only a couple of months later, the vehicle is ready to be driven. The fully electric load carrier can operate autonomously, and it weighs 8.2 tons.
This is just the first concept machine produced at Volvo CE’s facility in Braås, with smaller-scale production expected to begin next year and mass production set to follow.
According to Volvo, CO2 emissions from steel and iron manufacturing for its vehicles account for around 35 percent of overall CO2 emissions from the materials and components that go into traditionally powered vehicles compared with just 20 percent in the electric ones.
The company hopes that by utilizing fossil-free steel, it will be able to reduce the life cycle carbon footprint per vehicle by 40 percent between 2018 and 2025. Volvo’s goal is to become a carbon-free brand by 2040.