Volvo Cars was a crucial part of the action as environment and climate ministers of the European Union (EU) member states gathered outside Stockholm today to test drive a wide range of electric cars, trucks and excavators. During the first half of 2023, Sweden holds the EU Council presidency and the test drive was part of the official programme of an informal EU Council meeting. The event was co-hosted by us, together with Swedish mobility peers Volvo Group and Scania as well as Mobility Sweden and the Swedish Government.
The EU ministers, along with the EU Commissioner for Environment, tested a lineup of fully electric cars, trucks and excavators, including the Volvo C40 and XC40. The test drives were preceded by an initial presentation session which included a 15-minute keynote speech by our CEO Jim Rowan.
“We strive towards becoming a climate-neutral company by 2040 and fully electric by 2030”, Jim Rowan said in his speech. “It is not just the right thing to do, it also makes commercial sense. During the first three months of the year, our fully electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains made up a solid 41 per cent of all Volvo cars sold globally.”
Near zero emission steel in our cars by 2026
But electrifying our cars is not enough; emissions need to be addressed across all our operations. That’s why we also aim to reduce the lifecycle carbon footprint per car by 40 per cent between 2018 and 2025, including by reducing carbon emissions in our supply chain. To do this, we’re working with like-minded partners. For example, we were the first car maker to team up with Swedish steel producer SSAB to explore near-zero emission, high-quality steel for the automotive industry. As a foretaste, the Volvo cars at the test drive featured a tread plate made out of near-zero emission steel from SSAB.
“We aim to have this kind of steel in our production cars by 2026,” Jim Rowan said. “Steel has been and will remain a fundamental component of passenger cars. However, if the automotive industry is to meet the challenge of tackling climate change, we must find a way to reduce, and eventually remove, carbon emissions from the production process.”
Last year, we were also the first car maker to join the SteelZero initiative, which aims to increase demand for fossil-free steel and accelerate a transition to carbon neutrality in the global steel industry.
In his speech, Jim Rowan also highlighted our devotion to producing more sustainable batteries, embodied in a joint venture with leading Swedish battery company Northvolt. Together, we’re developing a new generation of batteries which will be produced at our new Gigafactory in Gothenburg, powered purely by climate-neutral energy.
The EU has a desire to increase its global competitiveness in the transition to a low-carbon economy. In this regard, Mr Rowan welcomed the recently proposed Net Zero Industry and Critical Raw Materials Acts. For example, the provisions to simplify and speed up permitting processes will help business get projects initiated more rapidly. They must be implemented without delay.
Mr Rowan also called on the Union to take further steps, including increasing the production of fossil-free electricity and public spending on research and higher education – to ensure the EU retains the talent vital for a successful transition.