Volvo Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, cars, construction equipment and drive systems for marine and industrial applications.
Volvo commissioned the Centre for Future Studies to facilitate and participate in the creation of a vision for electric and hybrid cars in Europe by 2025. It was envisaged that electrified cars would form part of Volvo’s strategic sustainability programme.
Outline of the project
A series of workshops with the Volvo strategic planning and development teams was conducted in 2012:
Week One: Describing the vision. Visioning techniques were used to create a set of desired end states and to describe what the preferred future would be like if it is delivered.
Week Two: Comparing and contrasting the vision to the current reality: How close are we to achieving this vision? What aspects of the current situation need to change to achieve this vision? What resources will be required?
Week Three: Backcasting the vision to validate its achievability. Moving step-wise back in time from the future vision to the present to identify the decisions and actions that must be taken at critical points if the vision is to be achieved.
Three visions were created:
Vision A - "Symbol of intent." EV share of new car sales by 2025 = 5 to 10%
Sales fail to reach beyond the “early adopters”. For manufacturers, electric vehicles are primarily a symbol of their green credentials and their technological innovation. In practice, their main efforts are on making small but continuous improvements in the efficiency of their petrol and diesel cars: the combination of the caring, leading edge brand image and the improvements in fuel economy mean that car buyers can happily purchase a modern petrol or diesel powered car believing they are making a socially responsible decision.
Vision B - “Tipping point achieved." EV share of new car sales by 2025 = 20 to 30%
A ‘tipping point’ is reached by 2025 in which electric vehicles switch from being a gimmick to a mainstream option. This tipping point is achieved by the confluence of three key factors: widespread availability of charging points; the availability of a range of standard and aspirational models; general acceptance that reducing CO2 is something that everyone needs to take seriously and act on, rather than simply talk about. By 2025, sales of new cars are spread fairly equally between petrol, diesel, electric and hybrid variants.
Vision C - “Part of the urban landscape.” EV share of new car sales by 2025 = 10-20%
There is an urban / rural divide in the adoption of electric vehicles. In cities and suburban areas electric and hybrid vehicles are adopted willingly, while outside of these areas there is stubborn reliance on petrol and diesel cars. This is largely driven by the availability of infrastructure: not just charging points, but effective public transport, local services and facilities, and car clubs. As well as making it easy to use an electric vehicle, these factors also mean there is not the same need to rely on car. The widespread provision of car clubs (which themselves would offer both electric and petrol/diesel vehicles) means that there is no need for a second car, and in many cases, no need to actually own a car at all.
The conclusion reached was that Vision B was achievable.