A switch by Volvo from trucks to train transport is bad news for truckies but a breath of fresh air for the environment.

Volvo has found that by switching to rail for the transport of its cars to the dealership network, it has been able to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in its logistics operations.

For example, it cut CO2 emissions by almost 75 per cent on the route between its Ghent, Belgium-based manufacturing plant and a purpose-built depot in northern Italy.

On another route, from Ghent to a second depot in Austria, emissions were cut by almost half since switching to rail transport.

Both initiatives are part of a climate action plan that Volvo Cars revealed this year.

Under the plan, the company aims to reduce its life cycle carbon footprint per car by 40 per cent between 2018 and 2025.

This will require a 25 per cent reduction in operational emissions, including logistics.

The 2025 plan is one tangible step towards Volvo Cars’ ambition of becoming a climate neutral company by 2040.

“When we said we planned to significantly reduce emissions across all our operations, we meant it,” Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Logistics, Javier Varela, said.

“Our logistics network is just one piece of that puzzle, but an important one nevertheless.

“This is one example of our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment through meaningful, concrete steps.”

Way of the future . . . Volvo’s cars are now headed to dealers aboard trains.

Volvo is also looking to expand the use of rail transport to China and the United States.

Cars are already transported by train from its China-based manufacturing plants to the Ghent port in Belgium twice a week.

Other train connections deliver new cars to regional depots within China and Russia.

In the US, the company’s Charleston, South Carolina-based manufacturing plant has tapped into a well-established rail cargo network, taking new cars to depots in cities across North America.

These trains replace the equivalent of dozens of trucks per week, a number Volvo says is likely to increase once the next generation XC90 goes into production.

Volvo’s climate action plan is in line with the 2015 Paris climate agreement which seeks to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

But the company recognises that electrification is not enough to reduce its impact on the environment.

It is also looking to tackle carbon emissions across the board: in its manufacturing network, its wider operations, its supply chain and through recycling and reuse of materials.

The company’s electrification ambitions are reflected in the recently launched, brand new Recharge car line.

Recharge will be the overarching name for all chargeable Volvo cars with a fully electric and plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Recharge car line aims to further boost sales of Volvo Cars’ electrified cars and encourage plug-in hybrid drivers via incentives to use Pure mode as much as possible.


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Volvo makes switch from trucks to trains


Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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