Volvo Special Vehicles Division

Drive towards zero. Volvo hopes to achieve this grand vision on two levels. Firstly, it is a drive towards zero accidents via the production of cars that do not crash. Secondly, it is a drive towards fuel efficiency and zero carbon dioxide emissions. Is this grand scheme achievable? We do not know for sure. But Volvo is valiantly working towards it by using both current technology and attempting to push the boundaries of our technological limitations.

Volvo has long been known as a manufacturer which prides itself on the safety of its vehicles. Now it is clearly aiming to go a step further with the V60 Hybrid. Based on current technology, the company has provided a carbon-friendly version of its popular V60 model. While it is slightly pricier than a normal V60, it is claimed that the fuel savings derived from using a hybrid model will make the car more affordable in the long run.

To take things further and beyond hybrid models, Volvo has also conceptualized the C30 Electric. It is a fully electric car with zero carbon emissions. 250 units will be produced during the third quarter of 2011, and these 250 units will be only for lease and only in Sweden. This test launch is part of Volvo’s research on the feasibility, practicality and efficiency of a fully electric car. During our visit to Volvo, we got to see a test drive of the C30 (see photo above). Not only does the C30 look like any other normal car, it is also so silent that a number of us did not even realize the engine had been started! If things go well, we may be on the cusp of having cars that provide safety, comfort and also minimal noise.

The main problem Volvo faces when it comes to launching these special cars will be the price tag. They are definitely more expensive than conventional cars. So a concerted campaign will be needed to sway cost conscious consumers towards this greener but more expensive option. But given Volvo’s exceptional marketing track record where they were, after all, the first car manufacturer to go against the norms and market themselves based on vehicle safety, any marketing attempts to educate consumers is definitely within their means.

It is exciting times ahead for Volvo. Not contented with merely being a manufacturer of “safe” cars, they will now forge ahead to be manufacturers of green cars. And it only bodes well for society if it succeeds.

– Owen Ocktrindo Yeo

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