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How Volvo is helping the City of Gothenburg go climate-neutral by 2030

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Volvo Gothenburg

We hear a lot about how cities plan to go net zero, but the truth is megapolises like London have their sights set on emitting carbon zero by 2050. The City of Gothenburg in Sweden, however, wants to be carbon neutral much sooner – as soon as 2030 in fact. 

The City of Gothenburg is teaming up with Volvo Cars to make its vision of new urban zones that are completely emission-free a reality. It wants to use these zones as a testbed for future sustainable technologies, whether it’s electric vehicles or renewable energy generation. 

The initiative, called Gothenburg Green City Zone, aims to establish an area inside Scandinavia’s largest port city that is completely emission-free, with a variety of climate-neutral transportation modes and a connected infrastructure.

Volvo is especially excited to be a part of the project, noting that using a real city as a testing ground will enable it to accelerate development of technologies and services in the areas of electrification, shared mobility, autonomous driving, connectivity and safety. As part of the testbed, Volvo plans to run robotaxis operated by its fully owned mobility provider, M, within the zone.

“Essentially, we are initiating a project that intends to limit the number of cars in the city – which is fully in line with our company’s purpose,” said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo Cars. 

“This is already proven by our investment in the shared mobility service M, who have developed proprietary AI technology to improve efficiency and utilisation. We want to be involved in creating the cities of the future and keep them liveable. This initiative gives us an opportunity to do that and take on responsibility in our own hometown at the same time.”

Examples of technologies to be tested include geo-enabling solutions and services ensuring that cars in the zone operate in electric-only mode and remain within speed limits, as well as traffic infrastructure that can connect to active safety features in cars and share information between road users.

“We want to use our knowledge and technology to help create a future city that is electrified, connected, shared and climate-neutral,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. 

“This is an opportunity to lead by example: by testing new technologies and services in a live large-scale environment, we can show that if it is possible here, it is possible anywhere.”

Other potential examples include fully electric mobility hubs; a complete, easy-to-use charging network for electric cars; and autonomous taxis.

The main obstacle to climate transition is not a lack of climate-friendly and smart technologies, but the capacity to implement them. The transformation requires a holistic approach to foster innovation and a deep and continuous collaboration between all stakeholders.

Since Volvo Cars also has an active role in the planning process of this initiative, it can ensure that, from the start, the zone integrates its electrified mobility services and develops them in a live environment, increasing the impact on sustainability goals.

During 2020, M has, through its proprietary AI technology, proven to reduce congestion and lower emissions in Gothenburg, with one car from M now replacing eight privately owned cars in the city. Similar to the City of Gothenburg’s aim, Volvo Cars is continuously reducing its carbon footprint, with the ambition to be a climate-neutral company by 2040. To realise this goal, the company has devised a number of objectives to be completed by 2025.

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