Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp Preparing For “Mega Trend Towards EVs” & Need For Lighter Materials

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We reported a few days ago on the news that the largest spark plug manufacturer in the world was refocusing itself on solid-state battery tech based on the expectation that electric vehicles would eventually invalidate its spark plug business.

Building on that growing recognition of auto industry trends toward EVs, execs at Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp are now preparing for a “mega trend toward EVs” as well, going on comments made in an interesting interview with Reuters.

This move towards plug-in electric vehicles, and large and heavy battery packs, means that there will be a correspondent shift towards the use of lighter materials in cars — something that would stand to impact Nippon Steel (Japan’s largest steel manufacturer).

“I think the auto industry is at a turning point in terms of technology,” commented Kosei Shindo, the President of Nippon Steel, in an interview with Reuters.

“We need to advance our technology to meet this mega trend toward EVs,” he continued. He added that the strategy to deal with the shift will be a key part of the 3-year business plan to be unveiled next spring.

While noting that he expected steel to remain the most used material in vehicles, owing to cost-to-strength ratio, Shindo stated: “I don’t expect to see sudden switches to EVs in 1 or 2 years, as automakers face issues to overcome such as electric infrastructure.”

Continuing: “But we want to map out and begin our strategy in the next 3 years to cope with technological innovation in an auto industry.”

In other words, the changes are coming — even if they won’t be immediate, it’s better to deal with them now. With aluminum, carbon fiber, and other materials emerging as alternatives to steel, that makes for interesting possibilities, according to the exec.

“We have options to either become a department store of various materials on our own, or to stay focused on steel,” Shindo explained. He added that alliances with firms supplying other materials (aluminum, carbon fiber, etc.) was a possibility. “We’ll take steps to reflect demand from our customers and technological development in an auto industry.”

So, the takeaway of all of this is to add Nippon Steel to the list of firms that seem to consider the electrification of the auto industry to be an inevitability.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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