Transport needs today and tomorrow

Chapter in PDF

Opportunities in our business landscape

Long-term challenges and some of our solutions

1. Demographic growth and urbanization
Today over seven billion people live on the planet. By 2025 the United Nations Population Fund expects there to be eight billion people and nine billion before 2050. Half the world’s population already lives in cities. However, urbanization rates by region are not uniform. The 50% milestone will be reached in Asia in 2020, but Africa will not be urbanized to this level until about 2035. These trends are driving an urgent and growing need for transportation and better infrastructure that address the social and environmental challenges of congestion, noise and pollution, and provide solutions adapted to regions at different stages of development.

City Mobility program
Through our City Mobility program, we are working collaboratively with public transport and distribution decision makers in numerous cities around the world to develop and apply new technologies and transport solutions, such as hybrid and electric vehicles.

2. Climate change
There is widespread agreement that the burning of fossil fuels, including oil and diesel, is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, which causes climate change. A sustainable transport sector must respond by improving fuel efficiency and moving towards lower carbon alternatives. This challenge is driving interest and opportunities in electromobility as well as alternative and renewable fuels that reflect the varying availability of natural resources, infrastructure, political will and incentives in different regions.

Reducing emission, improving results
Our commitment to the WWF Climate Savers program ensures that we look for every opportunity to reduce carbon emissions from our products and production facilities. For example, we consider every aspect of the fuel efficiency and emissions equation, including engines, tractor weight, fuel type and driver behavior. This leads to new solutions with improved environmental, economic and social benefits for our truck, bus, construction equipment and engine customers.  

3. Resource scarcity
Population growth, industrialization, urbanization and economic growth place mounting demands on the use of the planet’s finite capital. Resource efficiency and finding ways to reuse materials and energy in product lifecycles is increasingly important for industry.

Reducing waste and building sustainability into manufacturing and products
We work consistently with lean methodologies with a resource efficiency focus. This means implementing ways to use less material and energy, reduce waste and recycle materials. We reuse engines and components through our remanufacturing operations. With regard to energy reduction, one example is our 2013 achievement in establishing the world’s first CO2 neutral construction equipment facility in Braås, Sweden. Underscoring our commitment, the Volvo Group uses more and more lightweight materials in our product design and more materials and methods to reduce the use of potentially harmful substances in our products. The new Volvo FH cab, for instance, has been designed to offer a healthier atmosphere for the driver, by minimizing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from materials used in the interior, as well reducing small particles entering the cab through the climate system. 

4. Safety and security
Every year, according to the World Health Organization, there are more than 1.2 million road traffic fatalities and as many as 50 million people are injured in traffic. The WHO predicts that traffic fatalities could be among the top five causes of death worldwide by 2030. The tragedy of traffic injuries and fatalities is accentuated by the fact that the problems are worst where resources to counteract them are the scarcest; for example, low and middle income countries account for the majority of traffic fatalities.

As more nations and organizations set increasingly ambitious goals for passenger and commercial traffic safety, there is a growing trend for authorities to regulate commercial vehicles and make certain safety systems mandatory. As population and economies grow, the rising number of vehicles to transport increasing volumes of goods adds to the widespread risk of theft of both vehicles and goods. Safety and security, therefore, continues to be a key focus for the transport and infrastructure industry.

Smart vehicles and systems for safety and security
We invest in advanced research and development and collaborate with key partners to develop smart technology and vehicle safety and security solutions that improve conditions for drivers, road users, pedestrians, vehicles and cargo. As a global manufacturer of transport solutions, the Volvo Group works to help develop solutions adapted to the specific needs of each society and market and strives to find ways to collaborate on raising traffic safety standards.

5. Competition for skills
The transport and infrastructure industry requires a broad range of competences, from engineering and technical skills to management, leadership and financial skills. Multiple factors influence the availability of skilled employees for the industry, both today and in the future. These include falling interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in some developed countries; limitations of the educational systems in some emerging markets; and the long-term decline in the number of people of working age in advanced markets.

A proactive and attractive employer
We see these challenges as an opportunity to create different ways of attracting and developing a competent talent pool. For example, in addition to improving the quality of training we offer in our established markets, we are now providing vocational training in growing markets. We also support many activities to increase young people’s interest in STEM.