OEMs ready for green steel, consumers resist: conference

The automotive and other steel-using industries are increasingly working towards a zero-carbon footprint, often in a research-and-development partnership with steelmakers. But low-emission steel will incur an additional premium for some time to come, said delegates at this week’s Handelsblatt “Zukunft Stahl” conference in Essen attended by Kallanish.

“In the near term, I do not see the possibility to offer green steel without a price premium,” Eike Brünger, sales director at Salzgitter AG, said in an interview session. “However, I do imagine that green steel at some point will become the standard, and from that point will benefit from a cost effect in large-scale production.”

The other interviewee in that session, Gunnar Gütheke of Mercedes Benz, questioned the willingness of the consumer to pay more for a car. “Currently, the prices paid for cars are actually declining,” he noted. “Customers want a competitive and sustainable product, and we are working on offering this in a cost-neutral way.”

After all, the sustainability of a car is not confined to the steel used in it, Gütheke replied when the moderator asked how the company takes the “greenness” into its calculation. “We are breaking the calculation down to components,” he said, adding that the company aims to be able to offer cars with a zero-carbon footprint by 2039.

Another speaker, Guido Kerkhoff of steel distribution group Klöckner & Co, said the premium for green steel plays a negligible role in the finished product price. “Even if the steel price went up by 50%, the price for a passenger car would rise by a mere 0.7%,” he opined.

Christian Koehl Germany