Volvo, SSAB plan first fossil-free steel trucks on road to carbon neutrality

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish truck maker AB Volvo and steel maker SSAB have signed an agreement to produce the world’s firstvehicles made of fossil-free steel, the companies said on Thursday.

Volvo plans to start production this year of prototype vehicles and components from steel made by SSAB using hydrogen produced from renewable energy. Small-scale serial production will start in 2022.

“This is an important step on the road to completely climate-neutral transport,” Volvo CEO Martin Lundstedt said.

The vehicles and machines will be emissions-free in operation, Volvo said, without specifying how they would run, while adding the company is reviewing all the materials used in their construction to eliminate anything based on fossil fuels.

It will be sourcing steel from green steel venture HYBRIT – which is owned by SSAB, Swedish state-owned utility Vattenfall and Swedish miner LKAB.

Last August, it began test operations in Lulea, Sweden, to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen, which in turn is produced using only renewable power. [L8N2FX3LV]

China’s Geely Holding, which has a stake in AB Volvo, owns Volvo Cars, which it has said will be fully electric by 2030. [L2N2KZ10C]

Joint venture: Aurora & Volvo invest in self-driving heavy trucks

(Reuters) – Global heavy truck manufacturers are lining up technology partners to help build out self-driving systems for long-haul freight that could see widespread commercial service well before self-driving robotaxis.

The latest alliance was announced Tuesday between Sweden’s Volvo Group and California-based Aurora Innovation, building on a working relationship that dates back several years, the partners said.

Analysts expect more such partnerships, as relatively young technology firms such as Aurora connect their autonomous vehicle systems knowledge with the deep manufacturing experience of legacy companies such as Volvo Trucks.

“You can’t go at it alone in autonomy,” said Grayson Brulte, president consultancy Brulte & Company. “The trucking industry is a completely different personality” than the passenger vehicle business, with different requirements.

Most of the larger truck manufacturers have turned to self-driving tech partners, driven in part by a chronic shortage of drivers and a boom in e-commerce, fueled by the global pandemic.

In January, Aurora announced a strategic partnership with U.S. truckmaker PACCAR, whose brands include Peterbilt and Kenworth.

Aurora’s founders include self-driving veterans from Tesla and Alphabet’s Waymo. Aurora last year said its first commercial product would be in trucking “where the market is largest (and) the unit economics are best.”

In 2020, Waymo Chief Executive John Krafcik told Reuters that “goods delivery is a bigger market than moving people” as Waymo expanded its focus to include heavy trucks.

Germany’s Daimler has formed a self-driving truck alliance with Waymo, while China’s largest heavy truck maker, FAW Jiefang, has partnered with Plus AI.

Volkswagen’s Traton truck group is an investor in TuSimple, as is U.S. truckmaker Navistar.

In a January earnings call, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said the long-delayed Semi electric truck is highly likely to be the first of the company’s vehicles to achieve full self-driving capability.

Chip shortage to hit March production at Volvo Cars in China, U.S

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Volvo Cars, which is owned by China’s Geely Holding, will temporarily stop or adjust production in China and the United States for parts of March due to a global shortage of semiconductor chips, it said on Wednesday.

“We expect the situation to become critical during the second quarter and have therefore decided to take measures to minimize the impact on production while working daily to improve the situation,” Volvo Cars said in an e-mailed statement.

“Volvo Cars will temporarily stop or adjust production in some of its car factories (in the United States and China) during the month of March,” it said.

The Swedish firm said last month it had so far not lost volumes due to the chip shortage, but added there was a “big risk” it could happen during the first quarter.

The shortage has hit automakers globally and stems from a confluence of factors as carmakers compete with the consumer electronics industry for chip supplies.

Truckmaker Scania, part of Volkswagen AG’s commercial vehicle arm Traton SE, said earlier this month it might have to stop production due to the shortage.

Sweden’s AB Volvo, a rival to Scania, said last month the shortage had hit production at its factory in Ghent, Belgium, and warned of further stoppages.

Truckmaker Volvo profit tops forecast

Swedish truckmaker AB Volvo reported fourth-quarter core earnings above analysts’ expectations on Wednesday, raised its forecasts for some of its main markets and rolled out a hefty shareholder payout.

Adjusted operating profit at the maker of trucks, construction equipment, buses and engines rose to 10.93 billion Swedish crowns ($1.30 billion) from 9.22 billion a year earlier, well above the 8.77 billion seen by analysts according to Refinitiv data.