Climate change is one of the greatest challenges faced by mankind. Research shows that transport is responsible for approximately 13% of the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. As one of the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles the Volvo Group has a responsibility to work to reduce CO2 emissions from its products.
The Group's vision is to become world leader in sustainable transport solutions.
It is critical for the Volvo Group's future success to continue to develop breakthrough innovations and technologies and converting them into financially viable products and services. The Volvo Group's products and services are important components of the transport system. However, the transport system sets the boundaries for our products. The Group therefore has to cooperate and partner with other actors in order to develop sustainable transport solutions.
Three areas of focus
The Group's product development is affected by the cost of, access to and availability of fuel, as well as legislation in the environmental area. Therefore, the Volvo Group focuses its research and development on the development of:
- Energy-efficient drivelines
- Hybrid drivelines
- Vehicles that can be operated on renewable fuels.
The Volvo Group also participates in public and private partnerships to develop sustainable and efficient transport systems such as Bus Rapid Transport System (BRT) and Intelligent Transport Solutions (ITS).
Energy efficient drivelines
Approximately 90% of the environmental impact results from the use of the products. The Group's main focus is therefore on reducing the environmental impact of products in use.
The Volvo Group estimates the fuel-saving potential for a standard truck will be 15% in 2020 compared with fuel consumption in 2005. New technology can lead to even more significant savings. For instance, the use of a hybrid driveline may improve fuel savings by up to 37% in certain bus operations.
The Volvo Group is working on research and development to meet the future Euro VI legislation, which will come into effect in the EU in 2014. Emissions of NOx (Nitrogen Oxides), and PM (Particulate Matter) will be reduced by 97% compared to a truck from the early 1990s. Vehicles compliant with the Euro VI will thereby emitt very low levels of NOx and PM.
Hybrid technology is one of the most promising and competitive technologies for commercial vehicles. Because of its potential for saving fuel, hybrid technology means lower operating costs for customers while at the same time significantly reducing environmental impact.
Hybrid technology is best suited to urban operations since the most appropriate vehicles for hybrid drivelines are those operating in continuous stop-go conditions, such as city buses and refuse or distribution trucks.
The Volvo Group’s I-SAM concept consists of an electric motor and a diesel engine working in parallel, whereby each of them can be used where they are most effective. Production of the Volvo Hybrid city bus and the Volvo Hybrid double-decker started in 2010. Significant fuel savings of up to 37% makes this bus a commercially viable option.
In 2011 Volvo Trucks commenced sales of hybrid trucks, under the name Volvo FE Hybrid, to customers in selected European markets. Tests show that the fuel saving potential for this truck is up to 20%.
Renewable and alternative fuels
Carbon dioxide neutral vehicles are powered by fuel produced from renewable raw materials such as biomass. Reducing dependency on fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas by increasing the use of renewable fuels makes business and environmental sense. The Volvo Group’s research on renewable fuels is mainly focused on Methane Diesel and DME (dimethyl ether).
Joint DME project
DME is a potential alternative to fossil fuel; it is energy-efficient and has a proven lower environmental impact. Estimates show that by replacing conventional diesel with Bio-DME carbon dioxide emissions will be cut by 95%.
The BioDME project is a joint venture with, among others, the EU and the Swedish Energy Agency. The aim is to involve the entire chain; from production of DME from biomass, distribution to DME used as vehicle fuel.
The Volvo Group is coordinating the project and develops demonstration vehicles for field tests between 2010 and 2012. Two vehicles were handed over to customers for field tests in early 2011.
Combining methane and diesel
The benefit of methane diesel technology is that methane fuel is already available as a fuel for vehicles.
In 2011, Volvo Trucks launched the new Volvo FM Methane Diesel truck. The truck is powered by up to 75% gas and therefore the CO2-emissions will be considerably reduced. Volvo Trucks is the first manufacturer in Europe to start selling gas-powered trucks for long-haul operations.