Designed Around You Volvo Cars and the Environment

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Environmental Care – a Volvo core value
Volvo has over many years committed itself to help maintain a healthy environment and – through renewed and dedicated research and development – contribute to cleaner emissions from its cars that would assist in the effort to curb global warming.

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For Volvo Cars it is fundamental that personal mobility should not come at the expense of damaging the environment or other social values. This, and the belief that mobility and care for the environment can be combined, forms the basis for Volvo's core value of environmental care which was adopted in 1972.

This is very much in keeping with the Volvo way of putting people at the center of everything we do. Environmental Care does not only cover the future for people on earth but also the environment that people find them in, in and around our cars, right now.

How can Volvo make a difference?
On a global level Volvo’s business goals and sustainability commitments must be compatible with its core values, which include care for the environment. The overriding objective is to develop cars which are both safe and environmentally sound. Limiting carbon dioxide emissions and slowing climate change is a tough challenge, not least for the automotive industry and a company like Volvo Cars.

  • Volvo’s first approach to this challenge is to continue to improve today’s petrol and diesel-engine cars and to invest in innovative technologies for the future.
  • The second approach is to offer cars that can be driven on fuels which have a lower net impact on climate, such as Volvo’s broad range of FlexiFuel models that are a common sight on European roads.
  • The third is to ensure our production processes are as clean as possible. Volvo Cars is extremely proud of the fact that since the start of 2008 both the Torslanda factory at Gothenburg in Sweden and the Ghent factory in Belgium – Volvo’s largest – only use electricity from renewable hydro-electric sources.

Ensuring our environmental efforts are sustained
Although Volvo Cars is a relatively small company in the international automotive context, its brand and impact are both global, and it takes its responsibilities very seriously indeed – also on a local level.

  • Volvo Cars is working towards a multi-energy society.

Together with a number of researchers, Volvo Cars has in recent years made a study of the options of the future in terms of fuels and energy systems, as seen from a global perspective. The aim was to examine the most effective ways in which society as a whole should use various fuel alternatives and energy systems, if it is to succeed in managing its energy supply problems while limiting environmental impact.

Starting from this wider perspective, the study went on to investigate the best energy strategy for Volvo Cars. A large number of scenarios were examined, based on a variety of assumptions about the availability and use of different forms of energy, fuel preferences, and overall fuel efficiency for the global vehicle fleet, among many other factors.

The conclusions, in brief, were that Volvo Cars should focus on high-efficiency hybrid electric vehicles, in combination with various carbon-neutral fuel types such as biofuels and solar power.

  • This is achieved by including a climate compensation for every 45 000 km of motoring in a Volvo FlexiFuel car. In a car run entirely on E85 fuel (a blend of 85% bio-ethanol and 15% petrol which is widely available in Sweden); the only fossil-fuel carbon emissions are caused by the petrol component of the fuel and the production and distribution of its bio-ethanol component.
  • Globally Volvo Cars contributes to the offsetting of CO2 emissions by funding United Nations certified climate-neutral projects such as renewable energy production in China and India.
  • Reduced lifecycle impact, 85% recyclable. At present, new Volvos are designed to be 85% recyclable, and designed for 95% recoverability. Volvo was the first carmaker to supply Environmental Product Information (EPI) to help the consumer to choose a Volvo model on the basis of its life-cycle environmental performance.
  • The Volvo Car Corporation is also involved in a number of environmental projects in partnership with AB Volvo, which produces inter alia trucks, buses and marine engines. These projects range from the Volvo Environment Prize to Volvo Adventure, an environmental competition for young people around the world conducted in collaboration with UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme).
  • Clean Energy. In 2009 Swedish energy company Vattenfall, and the Volvo Car Corporation launched an industrial joint venture partnership to introduce plug-in hybrids on the market by 2012. The ground-breaking technology will considerably lower the environmental impact from traffic and it will be convenient as you can fuel up at home. Fuel costs will also be significantly lower.
  • The key, however, is to ensure you’re not simply substituting one form of ’dirty’ energy for another. For that reason Vattenfall will offer customers the opportunity to sign an agreement for renewable electricity sourced specifically from windpower or hydropower, as an alternative to the regular mix of electricity sources.
  • For Volvo, this is a major step towards series-producing plug-in hybrid cars. In South Africa there are still many details to iron out because windpower and hydropower are still scarce. But Volvo feels that the answer lies in clean, renewable energy and developing a vehicle that runs completely ‘clean’ is certainly the way forward.
  • Local offsetting of emissions - GreenForBlue initiative. In South Africa, Volvo Cars and the paper and pulp producer Sappi have started a joint project to offer Volvo owners’ the chance of minimising their carbon footprint by sponsoring the planting and growing of indigenous trees.

Healthy in-car environment
Offering a healthy in-car environment is also a high priority for Volvo Cars. Volvo Cars' advanced Interior Air Quality System (IAQS) reduces the levels of certain harmful gases and particulates. In addition, several of the interior metal components are tested for contact allergies, and actually meet the EU requirements for nickel leakage from jewellery.

With the launch of the S80 in 2006, Volvo introduced its Clean Zone Interior Package (CZIP), a feature developed specifically for allergy-sufferers and for providing a cabin air environment recommended by the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association. This association also recommends Volvo’s Interior Air Quality System and the Automatic Ventilation feature.

One Tonne Life project

The One Tonne Life project, which ran for 6 months, was an ambitious collaboration between various companies all dedicated to finding innovative, but realistic, ways to cut down on emissions in our daily lives.

Over a period of six months, the Lindell family have lived climate-smart with their sights firmly set on reducing their emissions from the normal 7.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year to the minimal figure of just one tonne.

The Lindells switched from their normal 1970s house and ten-year-old cars to a brand-new, climate-smart wooden house from A-hus and a battery-powered Volvo C30 Electric.

Vattenfall provided renewable electricity, new energy technology and energy coaching. ICA and Siemens were the project's partners in the areas of food and household appliances.

Emissions from transport dropped by more than 90 percent, thanks to the fact that the family's Volvo C30 Electric was recharged using electricity from hydro-power. The Lindells finished at 1.5 tonnes, which means they succeeded in cutting their emissions by almost 80 percent compared with their start back in January 2010.

This was a hi-tech experiment and it will be a while before everyone has access to, and can afford, this kind of technology. But the project did illustrate that living a climate neutral life is possible.

Volvo is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and each new generation of Volvo's contains more fuel-efficient technology and new ways of lowering emissions. Volvo is continually refining both its petrol and diesel engines to reduce emissions while at the same time working on improving its alternative fuel technology.

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