Dating from the early 1970s, Volvo Cars' commitment to the environment covers the entire lifecycle of the car, from design, engineering and production to useful life, service and recycling. Efficient energy and resource utilisation and reduced emissions are important elements of this commitment, as is a healthy in-car environment.
Reducing carbon dioxide emissions
One of the greatest challenges facing the car industry is to reduce fuel consumption and, as a result, emissions of greenhouse carbon dioxide, which contribute to climate change. Volvo Cars aims for a multienergy society. Several energy efficient solutions collectively challenge the complex climate change issues. In this area, some of our most important contributions are:
Climate-neutral electricity at Volvo
Since 1 January, 2008, Volvo Cars manufacturing units in Europe use only green electricity, hydropower. This is our latest step in making our manufacturing units in Europe climate neutral.
Wide range of alternative fuels and technologies
At present, fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel oil account for about 98% of total automotive fuel consumption. A wide range of alternative fuels and technologies is required to replace these.
In Sweden in 2005, we launched bioethanol-powered Volvo Flexifuel cars delivering significantly lower emissions of fossil carbon dioxide in service. The Volvo Flexifuel offer includes S40, V50, C30 with 1.8-litre Flexifuel engine, and V70 and S80 with 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre Flexifuel engine -all are available in many European markets including the UK.
Cutting fuel consumption is the biggest challenge facing the car industry and electric hybrid technology can offer an improvement in fuel economy of about 30%. Our new hybrid development centre in Göteborg represents a major step on the road to sustainable mobility.
Investment in new technology
Volvo Cars is investing SEK 10 billion in environmental research and development over a five-year period with the aim of reducing the fuel consumption and environmental emissions of Volvo cars.
In 2006, Ford Motor Company, together with Volvo Cars, established European Hybrid Technologies in Göteborg. Devoted to the development of hybrid technologies, the centre is staffed by engineers from Volvo Cars and the Ford Motor Company.
Towards cleaner air
Volvo Cars launched the three-way catalytic converter and oxygen sensor (Lambdasond®) over 30 years ago, enabling noxious emissions to be cut by 90%. Today, the exhaust emission control systems used in our petrol engines eliminate between 95 and 99% of the carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons in the exhaust gases, while our diesel engines are equipped with a particulate filter that traps approximately 95% of the soot particles. Volvo engines comply with strict exhaust emission requirements and several units, including our V8 and our new six-cylinder engine, also meet exhaust emission limits equivalent to the particularly stringent California LEV-II ULEV standard. In the ‘green' states in the USA, we also offer an engine complying with the PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) emission control standard - one of the toughest in the world.
Healthy in-car environment
Offering a healthy in-car environment is a high priority for Volvo Cars. All of our upholstery materials and interior textiles are tested for certain harmful or allergenic substances and emissions, and meet the requirements of Oeko-Tex Standard 100. 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 new Volvo S80 in 2006, we also introduced our Clean Zone Interior Package (CZIP), a feature developed specifically for allergy-sufferers, and providing a cabin air environment recommended by the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association. Swedish Asthma & Allergy Association also recommend the Interior Air Quality System and the Automatic Ventilation. Today, the CZIP and automated ventilation are available in the Volvo XC60, V70, XC70 and S80. The IAQS is available for all our models.
Reduced lifecycle impact
Over the last forty years, Volvo Cars has reduced the environmental impact of car manufacturing to a significant extent. An example is the emission of solvents - an area of priority in the automotive industry as a whole. Now we also only use climate neutral electricity at our manufacturing units in Sweden and Belgium.
At present, new Volvo cars 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.
We are involved in a number of environmental projects in partnership with AB Volvo. These 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).
* In accordance with regulations including European Directive 2000/53/EC on ELVs (End-of-Life Vehicles).
VOLVO CARS ENVIRONMENTAL HERITAGE
1945 Volvo introduces remanufactured spare parts - an exchange system still in use
1972 UN Global conference on the environment in Stockholm: Volvo raises the critical role of the car in society
1976 Three-way catalytic converter with oxygen sensor (Lambdasond®) removes up to 90% of noxious exhaust fumes
1982 Torslanda plant begins to use waste heat from local oil refinery
1987 Torslanda water treatment plant removes 90% of harmful effluents
1989 New, proactive environmental policy
1989 Life-cycle assessment using EPS (Environmental Priority Strategies in product design)
1989 Volvo demonstrates alcohol power technology: cleanest car tested to date
1989 Introduction of internal environmental audits
1989 Plastics in Volvo cars marked to facilitate recycling
1990 Volvo's Environment Award is given for the first time
1991 Volvo Cars first to introduce car free of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
1991 Paintshop at Torslanda plant is world's cleanest
1992 Asbestos eliminated from car production
1992 Volvo Environmental Concept Car (ECC)
1993 Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) no longer used in climate systems of series-produced Volvo cars
1994 ECRIS, a new research facility for environmentally optimised recycling
1995 Volvo Bi-Fuel, Volvo Cars' first generation of methane-driven cars
1995 Introduction of standards to improve dealers' environmental activities
1995 Launch of Car & Eco Care, the Volvo Cars range of environmentally labelled car care products
1996 Dialogue on the Environment provides environmental training for all employees
1996 Introduction of environmental standards for suppliers
1998 Introduction of PremAir® - a radiator coating designed to convert harmful ground-level ozone into pure oxygen
1998 Volvo Cars is first carmaker to publish environmental product information (EPI) for cars (originally named EPD)
1999 IAQS (Interior Air Quality System) introduced for cleaner cabin air
2000 Tailpipe emission control technology from Volvo Cars' ULEV engines becomes available globally
2001 New generation of Bi-Fuel cars
2002 Volvo Adventure environmental education programme for young people (formerly Volvo Young Environmentalist Award)
2002 PZEV engine introduced in California
2002 New Volvo cars designed for 85% recyclability
2003 Volvo Cars achieves global ISO 14001 certification
2004 Introduction of particulate filter for diesel engines
2004 Volvo Cars' new V8 engine is world's first V8 to comply with ULEV II
2004 Volvo 3CC sustainable mobility concept car unveiled
2004 Volvo S40 1.6D is first Volvo car with fuel consumption over 55.4 mpg
2005 Bioethanol (E85) powered Volvo S40/V50 FlexiFuel launched in Sweden
2006 Volvo FlexiFuel launched in eight more markets
2007 IAQS & Automatic ventilation recommended by Swedish Asthma & Allergy Association
2007 Volvo Flexifuel offer launched in several more European markets including the UK
2007 Volvo FlexiFuel offer broadened
2007 Volvo ReCharge Concept - a plug-in hybrid with 100 km battery range - introduced
2008 Volvo uses only green electricity (hydropower) in European manufacturing units
2008 Powershift - New Powershift automatic six-speed unit
2008 2.5FT engine launched, our most powerful alternative with Flexifuel technology
2009 Introduction of the sub 120 g/km Volvo DRIVe range