The development of high strength and ultra high strength steel grades ensures the future of steel for the automotive industry in the long term too, because steel is both light and strong as well as highly workable, recyclable, and economical. It is precisely by way of the life cycle assessment (LCA) that this multifaceted material wins the day: Thanks to its multi-recyclability, steel can be returned to the materials cycle over and over again.
Climate protection is the key driver of developments in the automotive industry that have triggered the current boom in the electromobility market. In terms of emissions, however, it is a fact that matters such as battery production and recycling still impose an enormous burden on battery-driven electric vehicles (BEV). The improvement in both the technologies for manufacturing batteries and their energy density is aimed at noticeably reducing this burden. But it is also a fact that the advantages of an electric vehicle (EV) in emissions terms grow, the greater the percentage of eco-electricity in the product mix. The climate balance sheet of an electric vehicle is totally unsatisfactory if fossil fuels are used to produce the requisite materials and if the electricity at the charging stations is not from renewable sources. Ecologically speaking, the success of electric mobility hinges in large part on the success of the energy transition. Yet the type of materials used should not be ignored in this connection either. Steel offers particular benefits compared to aluminum or carbon, because its production requires less energy from the get-go and because it can subsequently be processed and then recycled without any loss in quality. The study, “The Role of Steel in Electromobility” (original German title: Die Rolle von Stahl in der Elektromobilität), which the Handelsblatt Research Institute prepared at the behest of voestalpine, confirms as much.
voestalpine steel guarantees sustainable automotive construction
Therefore, those who conceive of electromobility as a way to resource conservation, energy efficiency, and emissions reduction must deal with steel. This concerns not just the fact that engines require electrical steel strip. Indeed, consistent consideration of issues of sustainability in automotive engineering means turning to solutions that involve high-strength steel. voestalpine is an important supplier of auto manufacturers worldwide thanks to both its range of high and ultra high strength materials and the automotive components it makes from these materials. The advantage of these materials lies in both the weight reduction they bring about and the fact that they are infinitely reusable—in contrast to other lightweight construction materials such as aluminum and carbon.
The fact that life cycle assessments take issues of recyclability into account underscores the value in the long term of state-of-the-art steel solutions for automotive engineering. Estimates carried out by worldsteel (the World Steel Association) show that the construction of a component made of aluminum, whose performance is equal to that of one made of high strength steel, generates 6.5 times the amount of CO2, and one made of carbon even 7.5 times the amount.
Stella—the sustainable future of the automotive industry
The Steel Division has launched a website that addresses the issue of sustainability and corporate responsibility in the automotive industry. Stella—a virtual vehicle with a personality—provides lots of information on questions of sustainability: What materials are used? How does voestalpine ensure transparency in the supply chain? How environmentally friendly is the production of steel at voestalpine? How do lightweight construction steel grades help the customer achieve CO2 savings?
You can find all information on these questions at https://www.voestalpine.com/stella/en
Our path to a green future
We are upping the pace of emissions reduction. greentec steel from voestalpine is Austria’s largest climate protection program. Starting in 2027, this program will reduce Austria’s annual CO2 emissions by almost 5%. 2024 marks the start of the partial shift from the blast furnace to the electric arc furnace (EAF) route—once unresolved funding issues in Austria are clarified.