Outokumpu, headquartered in Finland, holds the title of being the largest stainless steel producer in Europe.
Finnish supplier Outokumpu, Europe's largest producer of stainless steel, is reportedly providing Tesla with stainless-steel panels tailored for the distinctive design of the upcoming Cybertruck.
These sources, who requested anonymity due to the confidential nature of the contract, revealed that the materials will be dispatched to Tesla's assembly plant in Austin, marking a significant shift in Outokumpu's product focus.
The Helsinki-based company, renowned for its collaborations with automakers on exhaust systems, is known for its ability to adapt to unique automotive designs.
Sources suggest that Tesla may be obtaining these materials from Outokumpu's facility in Calvert, Alabama, and could potentially engage multiple suppliers.
Both Outokumpu and Tesla have refrained from commenting on the matter.
While the Cybertruck is not yet in full production, CEO Elon Musk has promised it for later this year.
It has drawn attention and scrutiny for its use of stainless-steel panels.
The material typically consists of a blend of steel and nickel, and it can cost two to three times as much as standard steel.
Elon Musk, who has asserted that the stainless-steel exterior is "bulletproof," is anticipated to provide an update to investors regarding the production progress of Tesla's inaugural pickup on October 18, following the company's latest quarterly earnings report.
Unlike other trucks produced by major automakers, none feature this particular finish. The majority are clad in standard grades of high-strength steel.
For instance, Ford's F-150 pickup incorporates body panels made of aluminum, although these are attached to a steel frame.
Musk has been a staunch advocate for using this material, as it not only contributes to the Cybertruck's distinct appearance but also eliminates the necessity for painting.
However, the company’s novel approach might be contributing the Cybertruck falling at least two years behind schedule.
Musk has said in social media posts that it’s “a tough product to design & even tougher to build,” and warned the company is in “uncharted territory, because it is not like anything else.”
Stainless steel was last used on a mass market vehicle in the 1980s when the gull-winged DMC DeLorean debuted. Production problems and quality-control issues doomed the sports car.
Tesla might be using a more modern, higher-tech stainless steel. It’s filed to patent an “ultra-hard cold-worked steel alloy” that it says was designed for “improved hardness and corrosion resistance for high-performance applications including automobile parts.”
Cybertruck prototypes have been spotted in Austin and the San Francisco Bay area, and Tesla has signaled it will have some kind of handover event for paying customers before the end of 2023.
During a July earnings call, the electric vehicle manufacturer assured investors that it is still on schedule to make its initial deliveries this year.
Upon its release, it will enter a market already populated with electric trucks like Ford's F-150 Lightning and Rivian's R1T.
While the choice to incorporate stainless steel panels represents a noteworthy development in the automotive industry, it is not anticipated to have a significant impact on the steel industry.
Nevertheless, car manufacturers have traditionally stood as one of the steel industry's most substantial customers in terms of sheer volume of raw materials.
On average, a standard North American vehicle incorporates approximately one ton of steel in its production.
Tesla has refrained from providing a specific projection for Cybertruck sales. Even if each truck utilizes a ton of stainless steel, it would likely account for only a small fraction of the annual 2 million tons produced in the U.S.
Outokumpu typically furnishes stainless steel for infrastructure projects like bridges and railways. Their materials are also employed in the manufacturing of appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators.
---------This article is partly excerpted from Reuters.