Volvo Admits BEVs Need Clean Energy Investment to be ‘Green’

Volvo has said world leaders must make huge investments in clean energy production if they want to see BEVs play a proper role in fighting climate change.

That’s because the automaker recognizes the risks associated with charging BEVs using energy produced from burning fossil fuels, a process that is accelerating in big polluting nations such as China and India. Ironically, the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker has now made the call “in order for its and other electric cars to deliver on their true potential in terms of climate benefit” its statement read.

Volvo says it aims to become a fully electric car maker by 2030 and plans to roll out a whole new family of pure electric cars in the coming years. This is part of its ambition to become a climate-neutral company by 2040, as it works to consistently cut carbon emissions across its business.

Yet it admits it will need the help of governments and the energy sector if its cars are to become truly ‘green’ in providing mobility with the smallest carbon footprint. It claims its Cycle Assessment (LCA) report for the Volvo C40 Recharge shows that the availability of clean energy for both manufacturing and charging an EV makes a huge difference in terms of CO2 impact.

It suggests that when a driver charges its BEV with clean energy, such as wind power, the CO2 lifecycle impact of the car is less than half that of a traditional, ICE powered Volvo XC40. However, when charging with electricity generated through fossil fuels, that difference becomes much smaller.

In figures, this means for the C40 Recharge that when charging it with electricity generated from clean sources, its lifecycle CO2 footprint comes down to approximately 27 tons of CO2, compared with 59 tons for an XC40 compact SUV powered by a combustion engine. When drivers charge their C40 Recharge using an average global energy mix (which is generated for around 60% from fossil fuels), the car’s lifecycle CO2 tonnage can increase to as much as 50 tons, significantly reducing the environmental gains versus a traditionally powered car.

Volvo admits clean energy is also an important factor in reducing the carbon footprint involved in producing an EV. The LCA reveals that production emissions of a C40 Recharge are 70% higher than for a petrol-powered XC40. This is mainly down to the carbon intensity of battery and steel production, as well as from the increased share of aluminum in the car.

Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo Cars, said: “We made a conscious strategic decision to become a fully electric car maker and an industry leader but we can’t make the transition to climate neutrality alone. We need governments and energy firms around the globe to step up their investments in clean energy capacity and related charging infrastructure, so fully electric cars can truly fulfil their promise of cleaner mobility.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


  1. Avatar Lee Feng 29th November 2021 @ 4:37 pm

    According to “When drivers charge their C40 Recharge using an average global energy mix (which is generated for around 60% from fossil fuels), the car’s lifecycle CO2 tonnage can increase to as much as 50 tons” as compared to 59 tons for the C40 Recharge, would this show that the current EV charging approach can actually result in worse CO2 emission for the EV?

    • TU-Editor TU-Editor 30th November 2021 @ 12:13 pm

      No, because the quoted 50 tons for the BEV includes production CO2 emissions so it is still 9 tons better over it’s lifecycle in the average energy mix for electricity production. That said, in many countries more than 60% of the electricity is sourced from fossil fuels so, in those countries, the BEV could very well be worse in terms of global warming than the ICE powered equivalent.

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