Opinion piece by Jean-Martin Van der Hoeven, ArcelorMittal Chief Marketing Officer for global automotive & moblility solutions and also in charge of the new sustainable development team at ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products
Published on 10 March 2021
Since the early 1990s, the automotive industry has been driven by innovations in safety and environmental performance. The structural design goal for the body-in-white was weight reduction to achieve lower fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions – while improving passive safety.
Today, those priorities remain key to compensate for the heavier weight of electric vehicles which impacts driving range and crash performance. But climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the advent of shared mobility and mass high-speed transport solutions are shaking the industry even more. The challenge now is to find the right answers to changing consumer habits.
In 2020, that behaviour shift lifted sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe by 143 percent. More than 1.38 million EVs and 2.8 million hybrid vehicles were sold, accounting for a third of total sales in fourth quarter of 2020 and outstripping sales of diesel vehicles for the first time. There was also a dramatic shift to micro mobility. EU sales of e-bicycles, e-scooters, and mopeds are now expected to grow from 3.7 million to 17 million units annually by 2030.
For ArcelorMittal, the pace of change in automotive has created unique challenges. Our historic position as the leading supplier of automotive steels has been based on the continuous development of our people, products, and processes. It has meant anticipating both legislation and the needs of our customers. But that experience has ensured that we are ready for the next shift in the industry.
Our S-in motion® BEV study has already demonstrated how advanced high strength steels can be used to lightweight the battery box of electric vehicles. We have also completed a €13 million upgrade of our Saint Chély d’Apcher plant. This plant specializes in the production of our iCARe® electrical steels for the automotive sector.
In 2021, ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products will go one step further and launch a project which will enable automakers to report a reduction in their Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This will be a significant step in ArcelorMittal’s journey to zero-carbon steelmaking and brings the possibility of carbon-free mobility even closer.
Jean-Martin Van der Hoeven is the Chief Marketing Officer in charge of the coordination and strategy of ArcelorMittal’s global automotive business and mobility solutions business including steel solutions for hyperloop.
Jean-Martin is also in charge of the new sustainable development team at ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products to assist the management and the technology group to comply with the requirements from the different stakeholders in our steel business.