Volvo has teamed up with its home city, Gothenburg, for the creation of new urban zones that will be used as testbeds for future sustainable technologies. Called the Gothenburg Green Zone, the plan aims to establish an area inside Scandinavia’s largest port city that is completely emission-free, with a variety of climate-neutral transportation modes and a connected infrastructure in line with the city’s ambitions of achieving net carbon neutrality by 2030.
It is also a form for Volvo – the pride of Gothenburg – to payback the city which has helped it achieve considerable success, chief of which, an amazing recovery period following the shock of the COVD-19 pandemic, to wrap up yet another year of positive growth.
The Gothenburg Green Zone
Using a real city as a testing ground will enable Volvo to accelerate the development of technologies and services in the areas of electrification, shared mobility, autonomous driving, connectivity and safety. As part of the testbed, Volvo plans to run robotaxis operated by its fully-owned mobility provider M, within the zone.
Examples of technologies to be tested include geo-enabling solutions and services ensuring that cars in the zone operate in electric-only mode and remain within speed limits, as well as traffic infrastructure that can connect to active safety features in cars and share information between road users. Other potential examples include fully electric mobility hubs; a complete, easy-to-use charging network for electric cars; and autonomous taxis.
Volvo claims the main obstacle to climate transition is not a lack of climate-friendly and smart technologies, but the capacity to implement them. The transformation requires a holistic approach to foster innovation and continuous collaboration between all stakeholders.
Now, however, since Volvo also has an active role in the planning process of this initiative, they can ensure that, from the start, the zone integrates its electrified mobility services and develops them in a live environment, increasing the impact on sustainability goals.
Similar to the City of Gothenburg’s aim, Volvo Cars is continuously reducing its carbon footprint, with the ambition to be a climate-neutral company by 2040. To realise this goal, the company has devised a number of objectives to be completed by 2025.
The Gothenburg Green City Zone initiative starts in Q2 of 2021 and will gradually scale up going forward.
From Uncertainty To Profit In 2020
According to Volvo Chief Financial Officer, Carla de Geyseleer, 2020 was a year of two halves. In addition to the initial effects of the pandemic in terms of human interaction and business activity, Volvo had to contend with plant closures and a dealer network being cut off from customers (as with many other manufacturers). This impacted sales volumes and profits significantly, with the company delivering 269,000 units worldwide in the first six months of 2020.
However, due to the swift control measures in mitigating and recovering from the impact of the pandemic, which included its supply and production chain, and adapting its dealer network for online sales, the company was able to bounce back with the strongest second-half (H2) sales in the history of the company.
Driven by strong demand for Volvo Cars’ Recharge line-up of chargeable cars. Volvo Cars sold 391,751 cars in the second six months of 2020, an increase of 7.4 percent compared to the same period in 2019, taking market share in most of its markets.
For the year ended 2020, Volvo delivered approximately 661,000 units recorded, falling just 44k units shy of the sales of 705,452 cars in 2019, the first time the company broke the 700k unit mark in the company’s history.
In China and the United States, its two largest individual markets, the company reported growing sales for the full year, despite both those markets contracting by 7 percent and 15 percent respectively. Sales in Malaysia has been stellar as well.
The share of Recharge cars as a percentage of total sales more than doubled in 2020, compared to 2019. In Europe, sales of plug-in hybrids represented 30 percent of total volume, making Volvo the leading premium plug-in brand measured as a share of its total sales volume.
In 2020, Volvo Cars also saw an accelerated move towards online sales as a result of the pandemic, a development that the company expects to continue in 2021. In 2020, Volvo Cars more than doubled its number of subscriptions sold online versus 2019.