VOLVO Group Sustainability Report 2010

Product Development

‒ Systematic approach towards sustainable products

Volvo Group works to reduce the environmental impact of our products and develop more efficient business solutions for our customers, contributing to a sustainable society. It is strategically important for us to reduce the environmental impact of our products. Innovative solutions and breakthrough vehicle technology is the result of a systematic approach to environmentally enhanced product development.

Leading research and development

Our investments in research and development (R&D) make Volvo Group predisposed to introduce new smart transport solutions. R&D at Volvo Group relies on the combined expertise of different companies within our organization. Substantial economies of scale are created by coordinating R&D initiatives as well as general processes and tools.

About 50 percent of Volvo Group’s R&D is conducted in Sweden, with the remainder distributed between locations in France, US and Japan. A major part of the product development budgets is dedicated to compliance with emission regulations.

We are involved in a comprehensive series of cooperative ventures with authorities, research bodies and academic institutions to advance the technologies needed for future product development.

Development process including environment and safety

Volvo Group’s product development is affected by changes in society, legislation and the needs of customers as well as new technology.

We are a driving force in the industry within the areas of environment and energy efficiency. Lower fuel consumption provides dual benefits – less impact on the environment and lower costs for customers. The undertaking involves a gradual transition from fossil fuels (such as oil and natural gas) to fuels from renewable sources and from conventional drivelines to hybrids.

We have three parallel approaches for environmentally enhanced product development:

  1. Attain high fuel efficiency and low emissions throughout the life cycle
  2. Develop alternatives that complement the diesel engine, such as hybrid drivelines that offer potential energy storage
  3. Identify and develop engine and vehicle technology for renewable fuels

Global product development process

There are six stages to our product development cycle. Each stage has different environmental, quality and safety objectives that need to be met for the process to proceed to the next stage. Work is organized in multifunctional teams, taking advantage of different experiences and skills from the global organization.

In the first phase of the product development process, the scope of the project is defined by balancing project targets, development requirements and alternative solution concepts. In phase two the concept is chosen. For example, we look at market research, environmental impact assessments, the business case and alignment with other projects. At the third stage we enter the applied research phase, which includes conducting a technical feasibility study.

The fourth phase is the final development phase, and includes building, verifying, validating and ratifying the product solution. In this phase market, aftermarket, manufacturing and assembly solutions need to be refined by conducting feasibility studies.

The fifth phase is the industrialization and commercialization phase where the industrial system has to be installed, prepared and verified to enable production. This is followed by the launch of the product and the aftermarket products. After the launch, we follow up the project and summarize project experiences.

Our products have an average life length of eight years depending on the use of the products.

Product Development

GDP overview

LCA broadens the perspective and provides deep insights

Each new product from Volvo Group should have less environmental impact than the product it replaces. We use Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) to map a product’s environmental impact in order to make better informed decisions in the development process.

Findings from analyses indicate that 80–90 percent of environmental impact results from the use of the products. Consequently, our main focus is on reducing the environmental impact of products in use.

Product Development

Environmental impact assessment for a truck in long-haul operation

Environmental Product Declaration

For many of our products we give customers an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), which is formulated based on the results from the LCA. The purpose of such declarations is to help customers understand the environmental impact of the product, and help them to make more informed choices when choosing vehicles.

The EPD is divided into three sections:

  • ‘Production’ provides information about energy consumption, emissions and waste during the production of our products
  • ‘Use’ presents fuel consumption, emissions and spare parts utilization during the use phase of our products
  • ‘End of Life’ deals with the scrapping and recycling of our products

Completed in 2010, all new Volvo trucks in Europe have access to detailed lifecycle analysis of their vehicles’ environmental footprint. The analysis covers five sections; materials and production, fuel, exhaust emissions, maintenance and end-of-life treatment.

Even though the EPD was introduced ten or so years ago, Volvo is still unique in offering customers this information. The information helps customer verify their performance against their own environmental targets.

Achievements so far - and potential

The fuel consumption for a Volvo truck has been reduced by 40 percent since 1975, while regulated emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) have fallen by some 90 percent.

Increasing fuel efficiency further

The most significant share of a vehicles environmental impact occurs during the use phase, and this is largely attributed to fuel consumption.

When a fully loaded truck is compared with a fully loaded passenger car, the carbon dioxide emissions of the truck are approximately ten times lower per tonne kilometer. The fuel consumption for a Volvo Truck FH tractor and semi-trailer combination, fully loaded, is well below 3 liter per 100 kilometers in long-haul operations. This fuel consumption corresponds to carbon dioxide emissions of approximately 30 g per ton kilometer.

The estimated fuel-saving potential for a standard truck will be 15 percent in 2020 compared with fuel consumption in 2005. This can be achieved by further improving the driveline, design, weight and tiers. New technology can be used to achieve more significant, savings. For instance, the use of a hybrid driveline may improve fuel savings by up to 35 percent in certain operations.

Exhaust emissions

The environmental impact of exhaust emissions, PM (Particulate Matter) and NOx (Nitrogen Oxides), is significant as regards the product’s impact on local air quality over its life cycle.

Different authorities are imposing increasingly stringent requirements on emissions of NOx and PM from road transport. The latest emission regulation in the EU is Euro V, which was introduced in October 2009. The most recent regulation in the US, US’10, became effective in 2010. Volvo Group’s products sold on these markets comply with, or exceed, current product regulations.

There is also an emission regulation for off-road products which affects Volvo Construction Equipment’s products as well as some of Volvo Penta’s products.

We support the global harmonization of emission regulations when these are competitively and technology neutral.

Product Development

Volvo Group is working to meet the future Euro VI standard, which will be introduced in the EU in 2013. NOx and PM will be reduced by 97 percent from the early 1990s for the coming Euro VI, thereby reaching very low levels.

Product Development

Emissions regulations for trucks and buses

Emission regulation Reduction
in PM
in NOx
Euro IV – reference Euro III 80% 30%
Euro V – reference Euro III 80% 60%
US'07 – reference US'02 40% 80%
US'10 – reference US'02 80% 90%

Reduction in PM and NOx

Pioneering diesel engine meets US requirements

The diesel engine represents the focus of Volvo Group as it is currently the most efficient energy converter for heavy-duty vehicles. The first vehicles with US’10 certified engines were delivered to customers in 2009. Volvo Trucks and Mack Trucks were the first manufacturers to have their engines certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board as meeting US’10 emissions regulation, which is the current most stringent standard in the world.

The vehicles that meet the demanding requirements of US’10 are equipped with both:

  • Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)
  • Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR)

EGR lowers the amount of oxygen in the combustion chamber, which reduces combustion peak temperature and in doing so lowers the formation of NOx. With SCR technology, diesel exhaust fluid, a water solution of urea, is injected into the exhaust stream to convert NOx into harmless nitrogen and water vapor. It is necessary to use both techniques to achieve low emissions as well as high fuel efficiency in vehicles.

Recycling of vehicles

Volvo Group’s products are to a large extent recyclable, since by weight they consist of almost 85 percent metal, mostly iron, steel and aluminum. The additional materials are mainly:

  • Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Material from electronics components.

The total weight of a truck, such as a Volvo FH tractor, is approximately 7,000 kg, of which approximately 33 percent is made of recycled material. Virgin material is needed to ensure quality and solidity. Handbooks which show how to disassemble the vehicle are available for most products to support the optimal materials recovery.

Disassembly stations are available where trucks and buses can be disassembled for recycling and where reusable product parts can be harvested. The vehicle is assessed to decide what parts will be recycled, reused or scrapped. Remaining substances, such as oil, diesel and coolant are emptied from the vehicle and the vehicle is disassembled.

Remanufacturing spare parts

Remanufactured spare parts are offered as an alternative to new ones to prolong product life and save resources and costs for our customers. Before a part is remanufactured it undergoes a stringent quality control process to ensure that our remanufactured parts meet the strictest tolerances.

Inboard Performance System (IPS)

Volvo Penta’s IPS is a propulsion system for high-performance boats. Fuel consumption can be cut by up to 30 percent compared with conventional technologies thanks to the forward-facing propellers and the thrust being parallel to the boat hull. This new technology also makes the boat quieter while also improving performance and maneuvering characteristics.

Light weight design

Volvo Aero’s unique technologies are becoming important due to the focus on fuel economy and environmental issues in the aerospace industry. Lightweight structures have a major impact on fuel consumption and thus also on aircraft emissions. Lightweight structures, simulation and patented manufacturing methods cut development lead times, while simultaneously making engines quieter and reducing weight.

Product Development