In an interview with Lars Mårtensson, Environment and Innovation Director at Volvo Trucks, I asked him about fossil-free steel, environmental innovation at Volvo and the strategic plan going forwards.

In October 2021, Volvo Group unveiled a load carrier for use in mining and quarrying, made of 3000 kilos of fossil-free steel – around 70% of the vehicle weight comes from steel and cast iron. The fossil-free steel is created using hydrogen and zero carbon electricity instead of fossil-fuels or fossil raw materials in a joint venture between Swedish steelmaker SSAB, energy company Vattenfall and iron ore miner LKAB. This is a major milestone in Volvo Truck’s journey towards cutting industrial carbon emissions. If all the steel in a Volvo FH Electric truck could be replaced, the estimate is a 9-ton CO2eq reduction. Volvo plans to deliver the first trucks with fossil-free steel to customers during 2022 and it will ramp up production by 2026.

Circularity is also an intrinsic part of Volvo Trucks’ sustainability strategy. About one third of a new Volvo truck’s total weight is made from recycled material. Approximately half of the wrought iron is acquired from recycled metal and 97% of the cast iron is made from recycled iron. Volvo also uses remanufactured parts – it has green manufacturing plants all over the world. At the end of their lives the trucks are scrapped so that the metals go back into the cycle and the used parts and certain components are sold on.

Reducing emissions while the trucks are on the road is of course vital for Volvo Trucks. It offers six different electric truck models, five in Europe (it has captured 40% of the market), and one in North America. Electric trucks are an attractive proposition, as they can drive outside normal hours, meaning that it’s possible to avoid rush hour which increases productivity. There’s a shortage of both mechanics and drivers, so Volvo hopes that new technologies like electric trucks will attract new people into the industry, including women, which is an ongoing challenge in a male dominated workforce. Even though Volvo Trucks has barriers to overcome in persuading customers to adopt electric trucks, such as cost and lack of charging infrastructure, it aims to grow the share of electric trucks to 50% (new sales share) by 2030 globally.

Over the last 20 years, Volvo Trucks has reduced emissions by at least 90% but it is very much an ongoing transformation, which is gathering speed.

Source: Foundation for Future Supply Chain, 4th May 2022

Author: Julia Swales, Foundation for Future Supply Chain

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