Products' environmental impact

Cost for, access to and availability of fuel, as well as legislation in the environmental area impacts the Volvo Group. Problems with air pollution and climate change entail more stringent legislations. These are some of the factors which Volvo must handle and its work has focused on the development of energy-efficient engines, hybrid engines and vehicles that can operate on alternative fuels.

Since 1975, fuel consumption in Volvo’s trucks has decreased by approximately 40%. Over the past 30 years, diesel engines have seen an almost hundredfold reduction of regulated emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particles (PM). When Euro VI gains legal force in the EU in 2013, emissions of NOx and PM will be at very low  levels, but CO2 emissions will remain.

The Volvo Group has a number of environmentally adapted products in its customer offering and future solutions that are now being tested in the field in cooperation with customers.

The Volvo Group’s unique diesel-electric hybrid concept, I-SAM, has made the Group the leader in hybrid heavy vehicles. Because the Group develops and manufactures solutions, this facilitates coordination and optimization of products and components to produce the most efficient driveline. The Volvo Group’s development program comprises city buses and distribution trucks, as well as construction equipment. Measurements on customers’ hybrid buses show significantly lower fuel consumption of up to 35%, corresponding to the same reduction of CO2 emissions, strongly reduced emissions of PM, which generate cleaner air, and also lower noise levels since diesel engines switch off at bus stops.

Alternative fuels
Three years ago, the Volvo Group presented seven different demonstration vehicles that can all be driven without net emissions of climate-impacting carbon dioxide. This resulted in a development project pertaining to two of the alternatives: methane diesel and DME (dimethylether). The benefit of methane diesel technolgoy is that methane fuel already today is available as a fuel for vehicles. Trucks, buses, construction equipment and industrial engines are being field tested and sales of trucks with methanediesel-engines is planned to begin in 2011. BioDME is currently available only on a small scale in the market. Since the Volvo Group believes that this fuel is the most energy-efficient from a lifecycle perspective, Volvo plays an active role in the BioDME project. The aim of the project is to involve the entire chain from the production and distribution of BioDME, to it being used as fuel in vehicles. The project is financed by the EU and the Swedish Energy Agency. Volvo’s portion of the project is to be project coordinator and to build vehicles for field testing.

Cooperation with WWF
The Volvo Group has a vision that future transport will be CO2 neutral. As part of this, the Volvo Group was the first manufacturer in the automotive industry to be affiliated with WWF’s Climate Savers. As a participant in WWF’s program, the Volvo Group’s truck company undertakes to reduce CO2 emissions from vehicles produced between 2009 and 2014 by 13 million tons, which corresponds to Sweden’s total emissions for three months. Independent technical experts will review the results.