Environment

A Volvo is for life

The environment is something all car manufacturers now think about. In 1983, however, it was a different story. So, when we released the LCP 2000, a concept car designed with the good of the planet in mind, it raised a few eyebrows. Now, more than thirty years later, our commitment to the environment is stronger than ever.

“A remanufactured part requires up to 85% less raw material and 80% less energy compared with a newly made part.”

        

Reduce, reuse, recycle

By the time we unveiled the Light Component Project concept car in 1983, Volvo Cars was already known as a car manufacturer interested in innovative, environmentally friendly solutions. This was mainly due to the invention of the Lambda Sond catalytic convertor seven years earlier. The Lambda Sond was an environmental breakthrough. By converting hot, harmful exhaust gases into harmless substances already found in the air, it reduced the emission of harmful pollutants by a staggering 90% compared with standard engines. But our efforts to build environmentally friendly cars in a more sustainable way had actually begun decades earlier.
 

In 1945, we established an exchange system for remanufactured spare parts. Today, this exchange system is bigger than ever and now includes everything from gearboxes to injectors to electronic components – all carefully restored to our original specifications. But why spend time and effort remanufacturing used parts when modern production methods mean we could make a brand new part in no time at all? Well, a remanufactured part requires up to 85% less raw material and 80% less energy compared with a newly made part. It can save around 300 tonnes of aluminium and 800 tonnes of steel per year, which is equivalent to reducing approximately 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Well worth the effort, we think.

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A vision for the future

So, with an effective exchange system for remanufactured parts already in place, and a groundbreaking catalytic convertor under our belts, a car designed to be kinder to the environment should have been viewed as a natural progression, rather than a bizarre curiosity. The aim of the LCP project was to use the latest materials and technology to design a forward-thinking, environmentally friendly car that was extremely fuel efficient, very safe and would ready for use by the year 2000 – hence the name. By today’s standards, these goals probably seem reasonable and realistic, but in 1979 it was an almost unreal combination.

         

Built for life

When developing the car, different types of plastic, magnesium and aluminium were used extensively in the design. These materials were chosen not only because they were light, but because they were readily available and, most importantly, recyclable. This was a car built to last – at least in one form or another. One other forward-thinking feature of the LCP 2000 was its ability to run on any oil fuel, e.g. rape seed oil. But a car that smelled faintly of fish and chips as it drove past was not to everyone’s taste.
 

The LCP 2000 is now proudly on display in the Volvo Museum. But the project continues to inspire the way we build our cars with sustainability and the environment in mind. Today, metals, oils, fluids, rubber and certain plastics corresponding to at least 95% of the weight of a Volvo car can be recovered, while 85% can be recycled. Volvo Cars’ Environmental Strategy now encompasses the car’s environmental impact throughout its entire lifecycle – from development, use and service to recycling when the car is scrapped and the cycle begins again.