VOLVO CARS ENVIRONMENTAL VISION: “DRIVe TOWARDS ZERO”
Volvo Cars’ vision is to develop cars that are entirely free from harmful exhaust emissions and environment-impacting carbon dioxide. This vision is called “DRIVe Towards Zero” and steps are continuously taken to reach that vision. In 2009 alone, Volvo introduced seven high-efficiency diesel DRIVe models with very low CO2 emissions and the company’s ambitious electrification strategy promises that plug-in hybrids will be on the market as early as 2012.
The company continues to prioritise its focus on advanced green technology. Between the years 2006 and 2014 Volvo will be investing SEK 15 billion in research and development with the aim of reducing the fuel consumption and environmental emissions of its cars.
“We already have a wide range of models with extremely competitive CO2 emissions. It is our aim that by 2020, the average emissions from our models will be between 90-100g CO2 per kilometre and that we should lead the market in the environmental field. Electrification is an important part of the paradigm shift to significantly reduce CO2 emissions,” says Paul Gustavsson, Director of Electrification Strategy at Volvo Cars.
Volvo’s environmental dedication dates back to the 1970s and encompasses the car’s entire lifecycle, from design, construction and production to use, servicing and recycling. The main focus is on efficient energy and resource utilisation, reduced emissions and non-allergenic car interiors.
2008 saw the introduction of the DRIVe badge, a collective symbol for Volvo Cars’ dedication to greener motoring. The symbol reflects the company’s commitment to sustainable mobility and zero emissions and a promise of constant improvement.
“Here at Volvo, we do not feel that there is any single route to sustainable mobility. For one thing, local conditions vary considerably as regards to biofuels and the necessary infrastructure and we are seeing a steady stream of exciting new technological advances in fields such as electrification, which change these conditions,” says Magnus Jonsson, Senior Vice President, Research & Development at Volvo Cars.
“We maintain an open and proactive approach to various development tracks and technologies – so we can quickly and cost-effectively commercialise products with the minimum possible climate impact,” clarifies Magnus Jonsson.
Product development within three areas
Volvo follows three main tracks for reducing the environmental impact of its products: efficiency enhancement, renewable fuels and electrification. These three tracks will coexist and vary in significance over the coming decades, with the aim of gradually reducing fuel consumption and emissions to the levels required by the authorities, the customers and the environment.
The emphasis in the short term is to improve the efficiency of existing technology that can be used in several models and for both diesel- and petrol-powered cars. This will be paralleled by a switch to increased use of renewable fuels as these become more widely available.
While continuing to improve the efficiency of combustion engines, Volvo is planning to introduce plug-in hybrids running on electricity in combination with economical combustion engines powered, for instance, by second-generation biofuels such as synthetic diesel. The next stage after that is cars powered solely by electricity, potentially offering virtually zero CO2 emissions.
Volvo’s DRIVe cars consist of a series of extremely fuel-efficient diesel models and the Volvo C30, S40 and V50 DRIVe’s had their world premiere at the Paris international car show in early October 2008.
By the time the Geneva motor show threw open its doors in March 2009, the technology had been refined and had been adopted by the company’s larger models. All are best in their respective segments with regard to fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.
Volvo Cars feels that the most effective way to cut the product range’s total carbon dioxide emissions in the short term is to reduce the fuel consumption of its diesel and petrol engines. This is because cutting the emissions of many cars sold in large volumes will have a bigger total effect and bring favourable results more quickly than making huge cuts in a small number of cars. Economical diesel engines featuring start/stop technology will be introduced across the entire product range in the coming years.
The switch to increased use of renewable fuels includes car models that are tailored to run on multiple fuels. Volvo offers models that are powered by petrol, diesel, ethanol and natural gas/biogas. Today, Volvo’s Flexifuel models, cars that can run on both petrol and bioethanol, constitute one of the widest such ranges on the market.
Within the next few years, second-generation biofuels such as synthetic diesel will also be able to be used in Volvo’s cars.
Hybrids and electric cars
In the long term, the biggest potential for achieving significant reductions in environmental impact is with electric cars. In early 2009, Volvo Cars introduced microhybrid technology, a start/stop function that switches off the combustion engine when the car comes to a standstill.
In 2012, customers will be able to buy Volvo plug-in electrical hybrids, cars that can be recharged via a regular household electric socket. These cars have both a conventional combustion engine and an electric motor powered by a battery pack. They are propelled primarily by energy from the battery, with the combustion engine taking over when the distance travelled exceeds the capacity of the battery.
For shorter distances in and around cities, it is likely that dedicated battery-powered cars will be in demand. Volvo is therefore conducting research in this area too. There are still many challenges to face with dedicated battery-powered cars in terms of range, cost and safety. In 2010, Volvo will be carrying out comprehensive field tests with Volvo C30s equipped for dedicated battery power. At the end of the field tests, the results will be evaluated and a decision will be taken on possible market introduction.
Non-allergenic car interiors
Offering an allergy-free environment inside the car is also part of the DRIVe approach and this is an area that has high priority at Volvo.
The results of the company’s long-term work include the following achievements:
All upholstery and interior textiles are tested with regard to more than 100 harmful or allergy-inducing substances and emissions, and all meet the requirements of Oeko-Tex Standard 100
All leather is free of chromium
Nickel leakage from metal components has been minimised
Volvo’s advanced system for ensuring cabin air quality, IAQS (Interior Air Quality System) reduces concentrations of some harmful gases and particles
The launch of the new Volvo S80 (2006) also saw the introduction of CZIP (Clean Zone Interior Package), a function developed specially for allergy sufferers
The Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association now recommends four Volvo models, the S80, V70, XC70 and XC60 when they are equipped with the Clean Zone Interior Package. CZIP consists of IAQS and automatic ventilation.
Reduced lifecycle impact
Over the past forty years, Volvo has considerably reduced the environmental effects of its car manufacturing operations. One example is emissions of solvents – a high-priority area for the entire automobile industry. Today, the company only uses climate-neutral electricity at its production plants in Sweden and Belgium.
At present, 85 percent of the materials used in Volvo’s cars can be recycled and 95 percent can be recovered. The Volvo XC60 is RRR-certified (suitable for Reuse, Recycling and Recovery) to 95 percent. This is Volvo’s first car to be type-approved with regard to recycling. In order to qualify for this approval, the car manufacturer must show how the car is recycled at the end of its lifetime.
Fourteen models in Volvo’s green-car range
The wide range of green cars consists of extremely economical diesel models (D), Flexifuel models running on bioethanol (F and FT), and Flexifuel models retro-converted for gas power (Bi-Fuel).
C30 1.8F, C30 1.6D DRIVe and C30 1.6D DRIVe with start/stop
S40 1.8F, S40 1.6D DRIVe and S40 1.6D DRIVe with start/stop
V50 1.8F, V50 1.6 D DRIVe and V50 1.6D DRIVe with start/stop
V70 2.5 FT Bi-Fuel