By those actions, Samuelsson believes that Volvo can lead and succeed where governments and the international community have failed. The first step was reflected in the video: to hear the criticism of the car industry, and react to it by showing that they can be part of the solution.
“Economic growth, new technology and competition is not necessarily bad - it should not be seen as part of the problem, but as part of the solution for a really sustainable future,” added Samuelsson.
“We also believe that travel and the ability for people to move should not be seen as a negative: it should be seen as a positive. It increases people’s quality of life. We should be careful about restricting freedom to move – but we should make it sustainable.”
Samuelsson likened Volvo’s push towards sustainability to its similar decision in the past to take a lead on safety, saying that “we made safety a part of our company, and we should do the same with sustainability”.
For Samuelsson, that means pursuing sustainability “not as some add-on, because it’s good or expected from us, but because we think it’s really good for our business. It’s about concrete actions more than symbolic pledges.”
Volvo isn’t the only car firm investing heavily in electrified vehicles, or taking steps to reduce carbon emissions throughout both its manufacturing process and supply chain. And its relatively small size makes it easier for Volvo to take actions than some firms.
Still, Volvo’s targets are bolder than most, especially given it doesn’t actually have a full EV on sale at the moment. The XC40 Recharge isn’t due to go on sale in the UK until late 2020, and in initial form is set to cost around £50,000. And yet, just five years after that, Volvo wants half of the cars it sells to be fully electric.
Bold? Undoubtedly. To meet those targets, Volvo will have to undergo the “fundamental change” that Samuelsson has promised. But by doing so, Volvo hopes to show a young generation who think the car industry is part of the problem that it can also help drive the solution.
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