‘Volvo want to lead the way in sustainability, as well as safety’

After revealing their first EV, Volvo want to lead the way in sustainability just like they have with safety, says Jonathan Burn

If there’s one topic that is getting everyone fired up at the moment – not the one beginning with B – it’s climate change. Driving down CO2 emissions, for car brands in particular, is number one on the agenda. But selling low-emission cars and making a profit while doing so don’t always go hand in hand. 

However, Volvo sees it differently. Just as the company did with safety, the Swedish firm is now trying to ingrain sustainability into its company ethos. And in doing so, it is actively going after a new, younger generation of customers – those who are more climate-conscious.

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At the launch of the new fully electric XC40 Recharge in California last week, Volvo’s boss, Håkan Samuelsson, kicked off his presentation by talking about the efforts the company is making to reduce its CO2 output. Developing more electric cars, transporting vehicles by train rather than road, using renewable energy in factories, and being able to recycle batteries are all steps the firm is putting into action right away.
It was clear this is something the company cares about very deeply. But even at the cost of profits?

I put that to Samuelsson, who told me: “When we introduced airbags in all of our cars, the bean-counters said this is not going to be good for our profitability. But long-term it was very good for our profits because it built our brand and we delivered something customers wanted. Now more and more customers want to see sustainability as part of our brand.”

Getting young people to buy into a car company today takes more than brake horsepower and a good infotainment system; Volvo recognises this and is ensuring buyers are aware of its focus on sustainability. It will even begin to disclose the average lifetime carbon footprint of every car it makes, starting with the XC40 Recharge. That sort of information could matter just as much to some people as the cost of a car.

Do you think Volvo is heading in the right direction by aiming to become pioneers in sustainability? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

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