Volvo Cars' Innovations Towards Zero
2010 was a transformative year at Volvo Cars. Ford sold out its interests in the Swedish carmaker to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. for $1.3 billion. The company hired Volkswagen AG's former U.S. head, Stefan Jacoby to run the company, which successfully launched new models and saw its 2010 sales improve 12% over 2009. It also brought in new management and a new board.
It was Jacoby who opened the June 9, 2011 Innovations Towards Zero "workshop" highlighting two key elements of the new company's engineering initiatives: zero auto fatalities and zero emission cars.
Volvo is renown for its solidly engineered luxury cars, but there are still fatalities: some 100 deaths annually, according to the latest statistics. Volvo wants to drive this number to zero by 2020 through the introduction of a series of technological innovations.
But the primary focus of his talk is on the challenges facing the successful roll-out of electric-drive vehicles, which include the uncertainty surrounding government incentives, the cost of ownership, the cost of infrastructure development; all of these daunting obstacles for governments, individuals and communities.
He believes with a decade pure electric cars, like the C30 Electric, will represent 2-3% of the global new car market. Much of the rest of the market, he states, will be made up of more fuel efficient vehicles that can include diesels, hybrids, and optimized versions of gasoline-burning engines.
For him, one of the most promising electric vehicle programs at Volvo is the V60 PHEV being co-developed with energy provider Vattenfall. It is the first electric hybrid to utilize a diesel engine, resulting in New European Driving Cycle CO2 emissions of 79g/km while providing fuel economy equivalent to 124 mpg and electric-mode driving range of 45 km (30 mi). It will first debut in Europe in 2012, with a gasoline engine version to follow later for the North American market.
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