Volvo Cars Declares the Environment a Top Priority

13th January, 2005

  • Volvo aims to be an environmental leader in the premium segment
  • Innovative technology makes Volvo cars clean inside and out

“Our commitment to safe mobility needs to be enlarged from the protection of occupants and other road users in collisions to include personal health for all road users and to offer them sustainable mobility solutions,” says Hans-Olov Olsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation.

Environmental care is a recognised corporate tradition at Volvo in providing environmental alternatives today and of dedication to future commitments. This approach gives Volvo Cars an excellent position in its quest for environmental leadership.

“Thirty percent of Volvo’s car buyers associate Volvo with the expression “pollution prevention”. It is this foundation on which we will continue to build. Our aim is to be a clear leader in the premium segment when it comes to environmentally sound mobility,” says Hans-Olov Olsson.

Volvo Cars’ environmental tradition
Volvo Car Corporation has long maintained that although the car contributes greatly to the socio-economic development of society, it is not without side-effects.

Volvo Car Corporation has a long tradition of developing safety and environmental milestones. Volvo introduced the three-way catalytic converter with Lambda sensor in 1976 – an innovation many people consider to be at least as important to the environment as the safety belt has been to safety.

The major environmental challenges
Today Volvo Cars will concentrate on three major challenges:

  • Global warming, attributed to society’s emissions of greenhouse gases, is becoming one of the biggest environmental concerns of our time. For this reason, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide – a major greenhouse gas – is the most significant environmental challenge now facing the automotive industry.
  • Pollution – especially in our towns and cities – is the second challenge to the industry as poor air quality has adverse effects on human health.
  • The third issue is to provide better mobility in urban areas, where congestion in some cities has become a day-to-day burden for road users.

The solutions
Volvo Cars is convinced that advanced technology is necessary but creating good solutions today is as important.

“To reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, Volvo Cars believes that in the short term, biogas (a renewable fuel produced from organic material) provides many environmental benefits,” says Anders Kärrberg, Environmental Director at Volvo Car Corporation.

“Volvo Cars sees a future where several solutions are possible. We are researching bio-fuels and hybrids as alternatives,” Kärrberg continues.

Volvo Cars has also launched the Volvo 3CC concept car, an attractive and environmentally efficient small car. The Volvo 3CC is a study of possible future sustainable mobility solutions. Developed in California at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Centre, its unique design provides enough space for three adults or two adults and two children.

“To reduce the problem of ground-level ozone, most of Volvo’s models are equipped with PremAir®. Furthermore, Volvo offers PZEV engines, which meet one of the world’s toughest emissions standards – the one applied in several US states,” says Kärrberg.

Methane – a fuel for today and tomorrow
Volvo Cars has developed methane-fuelled cars which are highly efficient in environmental terms. Carbon dioxide emissions from a Volvo Bi-Fuel model running on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) are about 25 percent lower than those from a petrol engine. A car running on the other methane alternative, biogas, contributes virtually nothing to the global warming problem caused by greenhouse gases. Bi-Fuel cars can also be driven on petrol as a back-up.

These cars have the same characteristics as other Volvo cars – they are equally safe and spacious and deliver the same performance – but with much improved environmental performance in terms of greenhouse gas emissions!

Ground-level ozone is formed when nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons generated by traffic and other sources are exposed to sunlight. Together with other photochemical oxidants in the air, the ozone forms what is commonly known as smog. The problem is greater in the summertime, particularly in the world’s major cities.

Volvo Cars was the first car maker in the world to commercialise the technology known as PremAir®*. PremAir® is a special catalytic coating that is applied to the radiator and converts ground-level ozone into pure oxygen as the car is driven. Studies have shown that up to 75 percent of the ozone that passes through the radiator is converted into oxygen in this way.
* PremAir® is a trademark of Engelhard Corporation

PZEV – Partial Zero Emission Vehicles
PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicles) – one of the world’s toughest emission control standards – is in force in certain American states. Although running on regular petrol, emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from cars with PZEV engines are extremely low. The new S40 sedan, V50 wagon, S60 sedan and V70 wagon are now available with PZEV engines in several American states.

Safe and healthy interior
The interior of a Volvo is designed to be healthy and safe – even for people with asthma and contact allergies. Particular attention has been focused on the use of environmentally compatible materials. The interior of every Volvo complies with the Oeko-Tex 100 ecological standard – a major step towards a healthier in-car environment. Oeko-Tex 100 certification criteria is published at www.oeko-tex.com.

Oeko-Tex certification covers components such as fabrics, threads, carpets and safety belts. In addition, the leather used in the upholstery is treated in a chromium-free tanning process based on natural plant extracts, and thus also meets the Oeko-Tex requirements.

Other components – mainly metal plated materials – such as the handbrake button, load anchoring eyebolts, Space Ball gear selector and steering wheel badge are tested for contact allergens and meet the EU directive for nickel leakage from jewellery.

Interior Air Quality System (IAQS)
Volvo Cars works systematically to create a healthy passenger compartment environment. In every Volvo, air entering the cabin must first pass through a cabin filter. This filter greatly reduces the amount of dust, particulates and pollen entering the interior.

In addition, all Volvo models sold in Australia can be equipped with an Interior Air Quality System (IAQS). This consists of an electronic sensor that monitors the amount of carbon monoxide in the incoming air and closes the air intakes if the level becomes too high, for example in dense city traffic, traffic jams and tunnels. A combined filter with an activated carbon element helps protect the occupants from virtually all unpleasant odours caused, for example, by petrol and diesel engine exhaust fumes, washer fluid and oil. The combined filter also reduces occupant exposure to gases such as nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone and hydrocarbons.

Zinc Wheel Weights
In Volvo's systematic approach in reducing environmental impact even the few grams of lead used to balance each wheel were considered inappropriate. The solution is the zinc wheel weight. The lead-free zinc weights were first used on new S40 sedan and V50 wagon and are now used across the 2005 Volvo model range.

Each year, tonnes of lead enter the environment in the form of wheel weights. How severely lead weights impact the environment is not known; however, the European Union is expected to legislate against use of lead weights sometime in the future.

Partnerships and society’s commitments
No single car maker can alter global environmental trends. We have to cooperate to get the best results. Volvo Cars operates as part of an international network of public agencies, researchers, manufacturers and other commercial interests to minimise existing environmental problems and help prevent future problems. The purpose of this cooperation is to identify new technical solutions and to inform customers on how environmental impact can be reduced.

It is the automotive industry’s job to build cars. But a cleaner society is something we can only build together. As part of its contribution, Volvo Cars is participating in a number of partnerships and societal projects.

  • Biogas Cities is a cooperative project undertaken by Volvo Cars, AB Volvo, local communities and fuel suppliers to encourage increased use of biogas and natural gas.
  • Volvo Adventure is an international environmental education and competition scheme for young people, a joint project with UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme. Volvo Adventure is an annual award eligible to primary and secondary students.
  • Volvo Environment Prize, worth more than $(US)200,000, is awarded annually to individuals who make a significant contribution to the advancement of environmental research and development.

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