Mercedes-Benz cars to use 40% recycled materials; CO2-reduced steel, aluminium in the next 10 years –

Mercedes-Benz aims to have a fleet of carbon dioxide-neutral passenger vehicles by 2039, and to get there, it plans to have its vehicles consist of an average of 40% recycled materials.

“Our vision is to transform our entire value chain into as closed a loop as possible. Our series-production vehicles already contain a large number of recycled materials. Within the next 10 years, we will increase the share of secondary raw materials in our passenger car fleet to an average of 40%,” said Mercedes-Benz CTO for development and procurement Markus Schäfer.

The use of sustainable resources in the construction of vehicles applies to those that are both visible and non-visible to the user, says Mercedes-Benz; examples of these in the interior include sustainably processed leather, materials with high recycled content as well as innovative materials. For metal structures, Mercedes-Benz also uses CO2-reduced steel, it adds.

For leather upholstery, Mercedes-Benz will from next year onwards offer only sustainably produced and processed leather in all models, and the considerations taken into account range from livestock breeding to the tanning process, it says. It requires its suppliers to comply with the “Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare” by the Animal Welfare Committee in livestock breeding.

In terms of the tanning process, future processes by Mercedes-Benz will only use vegetable or alternative sustainable tanning agents which are completely free of chromium; such as dried coffeee bean husks, chestnuts or extracts from other renewable material.

At the same time, Mercedes-Benz is conducting research into animal-free alternatives to genuine leather. These alternatives, such as those made of renewable raw material such as powdered cactus fibres were featured in the Vision EQXX concept car.

Mercedes-Benz is also researching a high-performance plastic with a painted surface obtained through chemical recycling, a process that sees used tyres and otherwise difficult-to-recycle plastic waste broken down into their chemical components in order for new materials to be produced from them. One such application of this plastic could be for door handles, says the carmaker.

The sustainable production approaches taken by Mercedes-Benz extends to its body-in-white and body manufacturing as well. The automaker’s goal of decarbonising the steel supply chain has a deliberate focus on the avoidance and reduction of CO2 emissions, instead of compensating for emissions already produced.

Here, the carmaker reduces its CO2 emissions early in the manufacturing process, such as in the construction of the Vision EQXX that uses CO2-reduced flat steel which is fully produced from scrap in the electric arc furnace. The more-than 60% CO2-reduced low-alloyed grades of steel also feature in initial applications for the current A-Class, E-Class, the W206 C-Class and the fully electric EQE.

Beyond steel applications, Mercedes-Benz is also decarbonising its supply chain involving aluminium; the structural castings of the Mercedes-AMG SL body-in-white are made of up to 100% recycled aluminium

Mercedes-Benz is the first vehicle manufacturer to introduce this CO2-reduced steel to the series production of its vehicles, and additionally sources steel from US supplier Big River Steel which reduces CO2 emissions in steel production by more than 70% through of recycled steel scrap and renewable energy. By comparison, steel produced from a conventional blast furance emits more than two tonnes of CO2 per tonne, according to the carmaker.

Further onwards, Mercedes-Benz will use steel that is “almost completely CO2-free” in various models thanks to manufacturing with hydrogen instead of coking coal, the carmaker said. It has also become the first carmaker to take an equity stake in Swedish start-up H2 Green Steel (H2GS), while the first prototype parts for body-in-white applications made from fossil-free steel have been planned for this year, in partnership with Swedish steelmaker SSAB.

Beyond steel, Mercedes-Benz is also working on the decarbonisation of its supply chain where aluminium is used. The structural castings of the Mercedes-AMG SL are made from up to 100% recycled aluminium, which saves more than 90% in CO2 emissions, it says.

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