In the Climate-Smart City Distribution project, which ended in spring 2013, Volvo worked with several partners to improve the efficiency of distribution operations in central Gothenburg, Sweden. Over the project’s duration, emissions from the vehicles involved dropped by an average of 30 percent, in some cases by up to 80 percent, Volvo says.
The study achieved the emissions reductions by replacing conventional diesel distribution trucks with vehicles using three different technologies: renewable fuels such as biodiesel, biogas and dimethyl ether; hybrid technology; and methane-diesel fuel.
Volvo Trucks environmental director Lars Mårtensson says the most difficult challenge wasn’t developing new fuels or vehicle technology, but rather improving the efficiency of transport operations. Volvo says other companies in cities across the globe can learn from its experience.
In downtown Gothenburg, there are about 6,500 companies that need daily goods distribution services. Better coordination and more efficient utilization of existing vehicles can reduce emissions and congestion even further, Volvo says. It’s not enough for transportation companies to improve their logistics systems, Mårtensson says. Equally important is for transport purchasers to become better at coordinating their purchases — and Volvo says it sees significant room for improvement in this area.
Opening up bus lanes to distribution traffic and undertaking more transportation operations when there is less traffic on the roads are other examples of relatively simple measures that can deliver significant environmental benefits, the company says.
Climate-Smart City Distribution project participants include GMV (Chalmers/University of Gothenburg), FordonsGas, Posten Logistik, Preem, Renova, DB Schenker, the Swedish Transport Administration, Business Region Göteborg, DHL, Fraktkedjan Väst and Göteborgs Lastbilscentral. The project was co-financed by Region Västra Götaland.
Volvo says it’s now working on developing and testing efficiency strategies and technologies for next-generation cargo traffic both on intercity highways and city streets. The company’s looking for local and global partners in this effort.
Earlier this year Volvo unveiled plug-in hybrid buses — which the company says reduce fuel consumption by at least 75 percent compared with diesel buses — in Gothenburg as part of a field test. Volvo says the plug-in technology will also reduce CO2 by 75 to 80 percent, compared with current diesel buses, and reduce total energy consumption by about 60 percent.