German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz will track the amount of CO2 emissions in the supply chain of cobalt using blockchain, it announced yesterday. 

Cobalt is used for lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are used in electric cars, which are becoming more popular as petrol engines die out. Demand for cobalt is increasing, but cobalt mining is an environmentally damaging process, and transporting it around the world only makes things worse. 

Mercedes is known for making flashy cars. But it wants to be known for using blockchain too. Image: Shutterstock.

Mercedes-Benz is piloting a project, a collaboration with UK-based blockchain startup Circulor, to cut down on CO2 emissions in its supply chain. It’s part of an initiative called “Ambition2039,” where the manufacturer wants its cars to become carbon neutral by 2039.

“The key is transparency: It is our aspiration to make all processes transparent and traceable,” said Markus Schäfer, who’s on the board of Mercedes-Benz.

Circulor has also worked with car manufacturer Volvo to track recycled cobalt on the blockchain.

Elsewhere, car manufacturers are big into blockchain. Supercar manufacturer Lamborghini is using blockchain to secure and authenticate heritage Lamborghini cars. Lamborghini uses a blockchain system to log the car’s interactions with technicians, repair shops, and dealerships. 

And five car manufacturers—Ford, BMW, Renault, General Motors, and Renault—have started testing a blockchain system that lets customers pay for parking tickets and highway tolls automatically. Ticketing systems can automatically identify cars and record them on a blockchain. 

But Tesla is steering clear, for now.