Categorized | Analysis, Construction

Environment and sustainability… Swedish style

More than four decades ago the President and CEO of Volvo, Pehr. G. Gyllenhammar recognised the environmental threat from vehicle production. He said: “We are part of the problem, but we are also a part of the solution.” Volvo Construction Equipment in a big player in the region and BGreen asked about its future plans for the GCC.

In 1972, Volvo became the first vehicle manufacturer in the world to launch an environmental policy and that grew to become its core value of Environmental Care.

Today Volvo says that it continually drives forward to create new sustainable products for the construction industry and research and development (R&D) is extremely important.

Niklas Nillroth is Volvo Construction Equipment’s vice president of Core Value Management and Corporate Social Responsibility, who was invited to tell BGreen about his company’s operation.

He suggests the overall biggest global challenge is to reduce greenhouse gases, specifically CO2, and thereby limit global warming. “How this will be done is the single most pressing question for the entire automotive industry, not only construction equipment,” he said.

“Of course, there are a number of alternative solutions such as a range of renewable fuels, technologies based on electrical solutions and so on, but I would say that currently there is not one single technology that can or will in the near term replace the existing diesel combustion engine.”

The diesel engine may be here to stay for a while longer but Nillroth believes the clean-up can be approached from different directions.

He said: “Presently, I believe any alternative will incur high development and production costs and a need for hard political decisions in terms of infrastructure development and aligning public perception to enable full scale implementation.

“That said, Volvo Group is continually working with advanced engineering to launch leading technologies while, in parallel, cooperating with all relevant stakeholders such as customers, universities, politicians and other bodies concerned with sustainability to ensure society is prepared for what the future holds.”

Nillroth says Volvo is firmly focussed on emission reduction: “In recent years the majority of R&D budgets have been spent on environmentally enhanced products, with a main focus on a reduction of exhaust emissions.

“Without world class R&D and an innovative approach, this development would not have been possible. Another major benefit for Volvo is also the size and scale of our engine production. As one of the leading producers of heavy duty engines globally, we have the skills, resources and financial standing to develop leading technologies.”

He believes the company’s behaviour today provides a direct link with that announcement 42 years ago. He said: “I would say Mr. Gyllenhammar was spot on in his 1972 statement about us being a part of the solution as well as a part of the problem.”

Regional goals

 

Every region has its own dynamics but the basics are essentially the same with the world now connected more closely than ever before, says Volvo CE (EMEA) Ilkay Fidan, Business Director Hub East at Volvo CE Sales Region EMEA.

He said: “The culture in GCC countries may be a little different to other parts of the world and in terms of sustainability and care for the environment this currently manifests itself in both legislation and market demands.

“I would say that environmental care and sustainability are still relatively new concept in the Gulf and are therefore more generally limited to buildings rather than across the wider perspective encompassing job sites, machines or even cars. I am sure this will change in the future and Volvo is absolutely prepared to support the GCC region on this journey.”

Looking ahead to Expo 2020 and Fidan believes the event will absolutely have a positive effect on the UAE.

“We have already seen this to some extent in the real estate business in Dubai and I am sure this will also lead to further projects and construction activity in the country,” he said.

“It is my understanding the Government is currently working on how to implement the plan for Expo 2020. Overall, I would say we are not expecting a copy of the growth of 2008-2009 in relation to the construction industry, but we are certainly expecting Expo2020 to have a positive influence on the industry over the coming years.”

 

 

 

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