Environmentally enhanced products

It is critical for the Volvo Group's future success to continue to be innovative and develop technologies, which can be converted into financially viable products and services.

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 manufacturers of commercial vehicles the Volvo Group works to reduce CO2 emissions from the use of its products.

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 and electric drivelines and 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
The Group's products have the largest impact on the environment in the usage phase. Therefore the Group has a life-cycle perspective and consider the environmental impact from the products, from them being developed all the way to them being phased out and recycled. Since approximately 90% of the environmental impact results from the use of the products, the Group's main focus is on reducing fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and other emissions to the air. The basic principle is that each new product shall have less impact on the environment than the product it replaces.

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 39% in certain bus operations.

Three areas of focus

  • Energy-efficient drivelines
  • Hybrid and electric drivelines
  • Vehicles that can be operated on renewable fuels.

Hybrid and electric drivelines
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.

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 39% 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. With a plug-in solution, the fuel saving potential of a Volvo FE Hybrid is up to 30% in refuse applications. In distribution applications the saving is 15-20%.

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.

Combining methane and diesel
The benefit of methane diesel technology is that methane fuel is already available as a fuel for vehicles. Volvo FM and Volvo FL/FE are available in methane diesel versions. The trucks are powered by up to 75% gas and therefore the CO2-emissions are reduced. Volvo Trucks is the first manufacturer in Europe that sells gas-powered trucks for long-haul operations.

New engine for Euro 6
The Euro 6 legislation, which will come into effect in the EU in 2014 entails that emissions of NOx (Nitrogen Oxides), and PM (Particulate Matter) will be reduced by 97% compared to a truck from the early 1990s. During 2012, the Volvo Group launched an engine that will comply with Euro 6.

Full lineup of Volvo Group trucks in the US earns 2014 greenhouse gas certification
The US Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have certified all Volvo Group truck models in the US, both Mack and Volvo branded, in accordance with 2014 fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas regulations.

Read more in the Volvo Sustainability Report 2012.