The UN’s Climate goals speak for themselves. To reduce global warming, greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut dramatically over the next few years. In combination with a fast-growing population and urbanisation this is an enormous challenge, not least for the transport industry. “To drive prosperity around the world we know that more transport will be needed. I feel that the whole of society has high expectations of us and is waiting to see what we, as engineers, come up with,” says Lars Stenqvist, Volvo Group Chief Technology Officer. He thinks that the picture of the future is far brighter today, largely thanks to access to inexpensive data power and the rapid development of battery technology. “This opens up new opportunities and means that our vehicles can do things that were totally impossible just a few years ago. In the transport system of the future, both vehicles and infrastructure are going to communicate with one another. This means that our vehicles must be good as products, but they also need to be extremely good at communicating in this type of transport system.”
The keywords for future transport are connected, electric and automated.To keep pace with the rapid technological developments, the Volvo Group has invested heavily in these technology areas in recent years – a strategy that is being balanced by investments in well-known technology. “We are convinced that the combustion engine, for example, can be much more efficient and the beauty is that you can run it on almost any kind of fuel. It will remain important for us for many years to come and will have a place alongside electrification. Our common product platforms give us an enormous advantage when it comes to developments in both well-known and new technologies,” says Lars Stenqvist.
Since 2016, the Volvo Group has set up new organisations and implemented more agile ways of working within electromobility, connectivity and automation. Many new employees have been recruited and the Volvo Group is conducting a close dialogue with different partners. “The level of interest from external partners in working with us is incredibly high and we are seen as a driven and innovative player. One of the most important challenges is to decide what we are going to do ourselves and what we should develop in partnership with others, or even let others develop. We are working hard to define what is going to differentiate us from our competitors in the future.” Presenting proof points in the shape of new solutions and technology concepts at an early stage is another important key. One example is the Innovation Summits in 2017, where the Volvo Group presented an electric excavator, an autonomous refuse truck and an autonomous hub-to-hub solution for dedicated highway lanes. “No one knows exactly what the future will look like. These demonstrations and the input we receive from policy makers, drivers, customers and other business partners are incredibly valuable,” says Lars Stenqvist.