Volvo also wants more insight into the ethical sourcing of all of its other parts, and to be able to track its CO2 footprint across the entire supply chain.
“At our heart is safety and sustainability, and responsible sourcing and CO2 footprint are a big part of that,” Buchhauser said. “At first it was a bit funny, because everyone was like, ‘Oh, you really mean this?’ Now our suppliers are well educated and want the same things.”
To monitor the origins of their supply of cobalt, both Volvo and Daimler are working with the U.K.-based startup Circulor, a company that tracks vast amounts of purchasing and logistics data in a process referred to as blockchain.
Such supply chain analytics have been around for a while, with companies such as ELM Analytics and Resilinc offering to map chains down through all tiers of suppliers. The data is becoming increasingly valuable as automakers and suppliers try to protect themselves from surprise source shutdowns.