A holistic sustainability assessment of all materials includes not only the vehicle interior but also the body and shell. Special attention is being paid to materials that are particularly CO₂ intensive in production, such as steel and aluminium.
Already in series production: steel with improved carbon footprint
As part of Ambition 2039, Mercedes-Benz is pursuing the goal of decarbonising the steel supply chain, deliberately focusing on the avoidance and reduction of CO₂ emissions rather than compensation for CO₂ emissions. In this way, the manufacturer is consistently reducing CO₂ emissions in the steel supply chain as a first step. The VISION EQXX uses CO₂ reduced flat steel from Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH, which is produced 100 per cent from scrap in the electric arc furnace. The low-alloyed grades are more than 60 per cent CO₂ reduced compared to the classic blast furnace route. They are being integrated simultaneously in initial applications in the current A-Class, the current E-Class, the new C-Class and the EQE.
In addition, Mercedes-Benz sources steel from the US supplier Big River Steel, which reduces CO₂ emissions in steel production by more than 70 per cent through the use of recycled steel scrap and renewable energy. By contrast, steel produced using a classical blast furnace emits an average of more than two tons of CO₂ per ton.
A question of technology: plans for carbon-free steel from 2025
In the next step, from 2025, Mercedes-Benz will use steel in the vehicle production of various models that is going to be almost completely CO₂ free, thanks to manufacturing with hydrogen instead of coking coal. To this end, the company has become the first car manufacturer to take an equity stake in the Swedish startup H2 Green Steel (H2GS). As part of a partnership with Swedish steelmaker SSAB, the first prototype parts for body-in-white applications made from almost fossil-free steel are already being planned as early as this year. The partner will produce a steel from iron made with hydrogen from its pilot plant in Luleå, which can be used in safety relevant areas of the car body.
The decarbonisation of the supply chain is also being consistently worked on in the use of aluminium. In the production of the body‑in‑white for the Mercedes-AMG SL, structural castings made of die-cast alloys made from up to 100 per cent recycled aluminium scrap are being used for the first time. The advantage: when using secondary aluminium from aluminium scrap, around 90 per cent of the energy required can be saved compared with the production of primary aluminium, while resources can be conserved.