Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp preparing for EV era

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. preparing for an era of electric vehicles in the future. Steelmaking giants based in Tokyo are looking for the latest technology and may collaborate with other companies to build lightweight materials that are very valuable in the era of electric vehicles (EVs).

Tighter global emission regulations force auto manufacturers around the world to switch to EV mobility where batteries need the capacity to produce more ranges. Reducing vehicle weight will be important where fewer batteries are needed to save costs.

Tinuku Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp preparing for EV era

"The automotive industry is at a technological turning point. We need to advance the technology to meet this trend. This strategy will be a key item in our business plan which will begin in April," said Nippon Steel president Kosei Shindo.

Industry players anticipate plug-in hybrid and all-battery vehicles are challenging. Data by the International Energy Agency showed battery-powered vehicles will account for 26 percent of total global car sales by 2030 compared with more than 1 percent last year.

"I do not expect to see a sudden change to the EVS in a year or two, but we want to map out and start a strategy in the next three years to get technological innovation in the automotive industry," Shindo said.

Steelmakers are already facing competition by aluminum, carbon fiber and other lightweight materials manufacturers. But steel will remain a reliable material for vehicles as it offers the cheapest cost to power on some vehicle structures.

"We have options for various materials or remain focused on steel. We will take steps to reflect customer demand and technology development in the automotive industry," said Shindo.

Shindo said Nippon Steel renewed a 5-year alliance contract with Kobe Steel Ltd. in November where it faced a specified counterfeiting scandal and has been legally prosecuted by 500 customers. Nippon Steel owns a 2.95 percent stake in Kobe Steel.

"Our alliance will not change," Shindo said.