Imagine a world free of emissions, congestion and accidents. That is what Torben Eckardt, Director General of Volvo Car Mexico, asked the audience to do at Mexico Automotive Summit 2017 at the Sheraton Maria Isabel hotel in Mexico City on Thursday. “Take this presentation as an insight into Volvo, how we are looking at the future and how we believe we can improve life quality in general, but especially in large cities like Mexico City,” he said.
The public is facing three main challenges in relation to living in urban hubs: emissions, congestion and safety. In terms of emissions, many people become sick due to high levels of pollution, Eckhardt said. One idea he suggested is expanding public transportation and using hybrid or electric systems. “Maybe you do not even have to own your own car – at any populated parking lot, you could rent a car with a smartphone app,” he said.
Of course, he said this requires a long-term financial plan but instead of using a huge amount of resources, he suggested investing in prevention, innovation, invention and improvements. As part of Volvo’s commitment to this goal, all its new releases will be electrified by 2019. Today the company already has a broad electrified range of PHEVs: the S90, V90, XC90 and XC60.
Volvo’s new family of Drive-E engines are extremely economical, with very low emissions. This means that, even when the electrical engine is not operating, these petrol engines are very clean, reducing emissions to 90g CO2 per kilometer. “By 2025, Volvo aims to have sold 1 million electric cars,” said Eckhardt. “Imagine the impact if all OEMs made their cars electric in the next few years.”
To address the congestion issue, he outlined the problem specific to Mexico City. “It is not unusual to spend three hours in traffic during the day, not counting time spent at the weekend,” he explained. “When considering a five-day work week, with 46 working weeks per year, it means everyone spends one month in a car every year. This equates to one-twelfth of a person’s life.”
Volvo wants to take the ambiguity out of driving by removing the driving component. The OEM’s autonomous vehicles have already been rolled out in Sweden, with 200 families currently using the technology, which is classified as “autonomous level three.” “Right now, we are testing autonomous level 5, which incorporates much more technology like intelligent parking, intelligent servicing and maintenance,” said Eckhardt.
The final problem Volvo is seeking to solve is that of accidents, with a zero-accident vision for 2020. In 2015, Mexico experienced 17,140 fatal road traffic accidents while Sweden experienced just 260. This is despite the fact that Sweden has twice the number of cars per 1,000 inhabitants, with 520, while Mexico has just 275.
“Road traffic accidents are at epidemic levels,” said Eckhardt. There were 1.25 million accidents globally in 2015, equating to more than 3,400 people. “This is equivalent to 8.5 Boeing 747s crashing daily,” he said. In Mexico alone, the equivalent to one jumbo jet full of passengers dies in a car accident each week.
According to Volvo’s 90-year-old philosophy, “cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo, therefore, is and must remain, safety,” Eckhardt added. This is why Volvo is investing in new, advanced technologies to improve quality of life and reduce accidents. Eckhardt said that Volvo’s vision is that from 2020, nobody will die in a car accident in a new Volvo.
“Imagine how fantastic Mexico City could be 10 years from now,” he concluded. “You are likely thinking “that is a crazy dream” but is it impossible? At Volvo Cars, we think it is possible.”