Coordinated policies for electrification of heavy vehicles: a technological innovation systems analysis

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Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2015)


Less than 10 years ago, Volvo Cars was known for spacious family cars with high levels of safety but fuel consumption well above the EU average. When in 2007, customers started to demand more efficient cars, the company had little to offer and few projects in the pipeline, whereas competitors rapidly launched less-emitting models. Without waiting for formal executive decisions, a team of experienced engineers took the initiative and organized a broad reengineering campaign labeled “DRIVe” (“Drive towards zero”). The basic idea was to build on existing models and platforms and in a very focused process introduce modifications and fuel-saving modules and so launch a low emitting model within less than 12 months. Incentives on various national markets, for example Belgium or the Netherlands were important factors to convince the market organization and get internal acceptance. In 2008, production started of the first DRIVe versions of Volvo’s compact cars with emissions at 119 gram CO2/km, a reduction by 10+ grams. Six months later more advanced versions with start/stop functionality reduced emissions to 104 g/km. DRIVe versions of the larger models followed, and in 2010, production started of a new version of the large V70 DRIVe with fuel consumption reduced to 0.45 l/100 km and emissions to 119 g CO2/km, a 25% improvement. Later in 2010, improved versions S40 and V50 reported emissions at 99 g/km. The flow of rapid reengineering projects continued and in 2014, the team could present the compact V40 model with a new powerful engine, boasting emissions as low as 85gra/km – without the help of any hybrid systems. An important driver of this flow constantly improved models has been the purchasing incentives in the Netherlands which are tightened annually, 88 gram/km in 2013, 85gram/km in 2014, 82gram/km in 2015, etc. Compliance with these levels is critical for success in the Dutch company car segment and has been very effective in setting a target for the DRIVe projects in recent years, and has contributed to Volvo Cars repositioning from fuel consumption well above the EU average to the lowest fuel consumer within its segment. In total, the DRIVe program has delivered 25 improved models from 2008 to 2014. In this paper we analyze its success factors, management particularities and lessons and limitations for other development projects.

Copyright© Gerpisa
Concéption Tommaso Pardi
Administration Géry Deffontaines

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