Volvo Cars’ future is represented in the pure electric Concept Recharge, which the Chinese company claims does more than showcase the company’s future design language and product strategy. With the Concept Recharge, Volvo Cars is forecasting the steps it will take in all areas of pure electric car development to reduce its cars’ and its overall carbon footprint. The company plans to sell only fully electric cars by 2030 and aims to be a climate-neutral and circular business by 2040. (Volvo to Only Sell EVs Online as a Pure EV Company by 2030; A Decade of Chinese Ownership – Volvo Cars Posts Strongest Second-Half Sales in Its 93-Year History)
By using sustainable materials inside the car, equipping it with tires from recycled and renewable material, improving aerodynamics Volvo Cars can take steps to reduce its carbon impact through the car itself. Combining those with the use of clean energy throughout a de-carbonized supply chain, manufacturing process and use phase of the car, Volvo Cars believes it can reduce a car’s lifecycle CO2 impact by 80% versus a 2018 Volvo XC60, without losing the qualities that Volvo cars have become known for. This would mean that the Concept Recharge would have an overall lifecycle CO2 impact below 10 tons, when charged with 100% renewable energy – if, big if, Volvo is able to pull this off in a global economy that is self-destructing from the use of subsidized fossil fuels and little progress on addressing Global Warming.
“As we enter the age of the electric car, how far you can drive on a full charge will be a key consideration,” said Owen Ready, Head of Strategic and Brand Design at Volvo Cars. “The easy approach is to add more batteries, but it is different from simply adding a bigger fuel tank today – batteries add weight and increase carbon footprint. Instead, we have to increase overall efficiency to increase range. With Concept Recharge we explore the tension between the need for efficiency and the desire for the same space, convenience and driving experience as in today’s SUVs.”
The interior design has sustainable materials, both natural and recycled materials – “responsibly sourced Swedish wool, environmentally responsible textiles and lightweight composites created from natural sources.” (Responsibly sourced Swedish wool is changed into fully natural breathable cloth, free from additives.) This material is used in the seat backrest and instrument panel top. The floor and lower doors are covered by a carpet of 100 % wool.
The seatbacks and headrests, as well as part of the steering wheel, use a new material created by Volvo Cars called Nordico. It is a soft material made from bio-based and recycled ingredients that come from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, providing a CO2 footprint that is claimed to be 74% lower than leather.
On the exterior, the front and rear bumpers as well as the sill moldings consist of flax composite. Using a flax composite both inside and out in this way results in a reduction of plastics used. (flax composite, developed by Volvo Cars with suppliers uses fibers from the linseed plant, which are mixed with composites.)
Concept Recharge has tires made by Pirelli, which are completely free from mineral oil and are made from 94% fossil-free materials, including recycled and renewable materials such as natural rubber, bio-silica, rayon and bio-resin.
Volvo Car Group
For the 2020 financial year, Volvo Car Group recorded an operating profit of 8.5 BSEK (14.3 BSEK in 2019). Revenue over the period amounted to 262.8 BSEK (274.1 BSEK). For the full year of 2020, global sales reached 661,713 cars (705,452), a decline of 6.2 % compared to 2019.
Volvo Cars was founded in 1927. Today, sales are in ~100 countries. Volvo Cars has been owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding since 2010. As of December 2020, Volvo Cars employed approximately 40,000 full-time employees. Volvo Cars’ head office, product development, marketing and administration functions are mainly located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Cars’ head office for APAC is located in Shanghai and for Americas in Mahwah, NJ. The company’s main car production plants are located in Gothenburg (Sweden), Ghent (Belgium), South Carolina (US), Chengdu and Daqing (China).