Volvo has revealed its vision for ultra-green electric cars of the future that it says will be built from sustainable materials and produced in carbon neutral factories by a company that is ‘climate-circular’.
Called the Concept Recharge, the five-door family estate car showcases the brand’s ‘future design language and product strategy’ and is described as a ‘manifesto for the next generation of all-electric Volvos’.
It has committed to put in place a series of ambitious measures to ensure development of its pure electric cars comes with the smallest overall carbon footprint, which it says will be 80 per cent lower than fossil fuel cars it sold in 2018.
Volvo says its electric cars of the future will not only have zero-emissions but be made from a range of sustainable products and feature green design to reduce their carbon footprint
Volvo has already outlined its intentions to sell only 100 per cent electric vehicles from 2030 and become a carbon-neutral business just a decade later by 2040.
The Concept Recharge is its look ahead to the models it could be producing in the next ten years, with the vehicle using sustainable materials in the cabin, tyres made from recycled rubber and bosting improved aerodynamics to increase driving range.
And the Swedish brand – which is now owned by mega Chinese business, Geely – says these cars will be built in ultra-green factories running on clean energy as part of its efforts to decarbonised the entire supply chain and manufacturing process.
This, combined with the low-pollution benefits of driving an electric cars, means the Concept Recharge’s CO2 life cycle is 80 per cent less than a 2018 Volvo XC60.
‘This would mean that the Concept Recharge would have an overall lifecycle CO2 impact below 10 tonnes, when charged with 100 per cent renewable energy,’ the brand says.
To achieve this, the EV concept is made from a range of materials you’ve likely never heard about before.
The Volvo Concept Recharge was unveiled earlier this year, though details about its sustainable features have only just been revealed
Volvo has outlined its intentions to sell only 100% electric cars from 2030 and become a carbon-neutral business just a decade later by 2040. This is the sort of model it wants to make
Parts of the interior – including the seats – are made from recycled plastic and ‘responsibly-sourced Swedish wool’
The interior is packed with recycled materials, including ‘responsibly-sourced Swedish wool’ for the seat backs and other soft-touch panels, such as the top of the dashboard, which is mixed with environmentally responsible textiles and lightweight composites created from natural sources.
The seat cushions and soft-touch surfaces on the doors are made from recycled plastic materials that are produced through a high water efficiency and energy-efficient process.
The interior is packed with recycled materials, including ‘responsibly-sourced Swedish wool’ for the seat backs
The seatbacks and headrests, as well as part of the steering wheel, use a new material created by Volvo Cars called Nordico – another soft material made from bio-based and recycled ingredients that come from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, providing a CO2 footprint that is 74 per cent lower than leather.
Harder surfaces inside the car – and used in the bumpers – are made from a material that consists of fibres made from linseed plants, which are mixed with other composites to provide a strong and lightweight single-piece mouldings.
The tyres, specially created for the Concept Recharge by Pirelli, are completely free from mineral oil and are made from 94 per cent fossil-free materials, including recycled and renewable materials such as natural rubber, bio-silica, rayon and bio-resin.
A new wheel design is said to provide additional aerodynamic benefits that could be seen across Volvo EVs launched in the future
The tyres, specially created for the Concept Recharge by Pirelli, are completely free from mineral oil and are made from 94 per cent fossil-free materials
The Swedish brand is exploring how exterior features of its EVs can ‘smooth the airflow’ to reduce resistance and therefore extend the driving range without having to fit bigger batteries
Other eco benefits are said to be achieved by big improvements to the car’s aerodynamics, with exterior features that ‘smooth the airflow’ to reduce resistance and therefore extend the battery range.
A new wheel design, lower roof and more upright rear end also help to make it more efficient.
‘As we enter the age of the electric car, how far you can drive on a full charge will be a key consideration,’ added Owen Ready, head of brand design at Volvo Cars.
The easy approach is to add more batteries, but it is not the same as simply adding a bigger fuel tank today – batteries add weight and increase carbon footprint
Owen Ready, Volvo head of brand Design
‘The easy approach is to add more batteries, but it is not the same as 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.’
In terms of performance, by the time the Concept Recharge becomes a production model it could have batteries developed by Volvo in partnership with Swedish company Northvolt.
The two have pledged to develop lithium-ion battery packs that are 50 per cent more energy-dense than those used in electric cars, promising to offer double the range from the same size battery.
It means Volvo EVs could have ranges of up to 621 miles before 2030.
Charging times will also be cut in half by 2025 thanks to improvements in battery technology, electric cars’ software and charging technology, the auto maker says.
Details of Volvo’s vision for more sustainable EVs in the future comes just weeks after it made the bold claim that emissions from the production of electric cars are far higher than a petrol equivalent.
In a report released at the beginning of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the car maker called on world leaders and energy providers to significantly boost investments in green energy to reduce the carbon footprint of plug-in models.
It claimed that over a car’s lifetime the electric version will become greener overall, though this will only be achieved after covering between 30,000 and 68,400 miles – taking between four and nine years for the average UK motorist.
The claims were made as part of a revolutionary new transparency approach adopted by the brand, which includes publishing ‘Life Cycle Assessment’ report for its pure-electric cars, detailing how green – or not green – they are to produce.
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