Volvo Penta become world leaders in sustainable power solutions

Reducing the climate footprint alone is no longer enough. Today, sustainability must be an integral part of everything we do. Meet Heléne Mellquist, President of Volvo Penta, to find out more about Volvo Penta’s environmental ambitions and how the company works to help shaping the world we all want to live in.

How to meet today’s needs without causing irreversible problems for future generations. It’s a problem we all have a stake in – and we all have a part to play in the solution. But to bring about real change will take ambition, commitment, and drive. Volvo Penta has all of this – and now is the time to turn words into action.

“The world is changing rapidly with growing population, increased urbanization with an increased need for transport at one hand, and climate change on the other. So, sustainability must be at the forefront of everything,” says Heléne Mellquist, President of Volvo Penta. “To help shape the kind of world we all want to live in, Volvo Penta has to be part of and drive the transformation of our industry.” 

Taking Responsibility

To be part of the solution, you have to understand the problem. Volvo Penta knows that its biggest sustainability challenge comes from the climate footprint of its own products over their full lifecycle and foremost when they are in use. But it’s this willingness to accept responsibility and embrace transparency that has made it possible to set clear sustainability targets and plan for a better way forward – both on land and at sea. 

“The choices we make today, will define the world we live in tomorrow,’ says Heléne Mellquist. “So, we have set clear goals to deliver fossil-free power solutions by 2050.” Signing up to the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) together with the Volvo Group has enabled us to work towards these targets in line with leading climate science.

Boat cruising through snowy climate
Volvo Penta are adopting a circular approach across the board

Working Together

To achieve these goals, Volvo Penta is fully focused on developing a complete range of sustainable power solutions. “We are working to engage our customers, supply chain partners, governments, societies and other stakeholders to join us on this journey. Together, we are moving quickly to develop and offer more sustainable, safer and more circular solutions,” Heléne Mellquist explains.

Historically, when a new solution is introduced and starts to make a real difference, the competition soon follow. 

By developing cleaner and more circular solutions, Volvo Penta’s ambition is to become a driving force that pushes the industry towards truly sustainable alternatives. But again, to succeed, collaboration and innovation are essential.

“If we are to deliver sustainable power solutions, we need to embrace that partnership is the new leadership. That means tight collaboration with our siblings in the Volvo Group, with customers and partners, maybe even with our competitors, to make use of all the knowledge and technology at our disposal including electric and hydrogen solutions,” says Heléne Mellquist.

Powering the Future

Electrification is key for Volvo Penta to develop a sustainable range of power solutions. Further down the line, fuel cells with hydrogen as fuel, which only emits water, are also likely to play an important part. In parallel, combustion engines will be further developed to improve the efficiency and emissions of existing technology and for use with more sustainable alternative fuels.

As well as reducing emissions, the drive towards more sustainable manufacturing is a key part of Volvo Penta’s sustainability efforts. In 2011, the Volvo Penta plant in Vara, Sweden became one of the first renewable energy facilities within the Volvo Group. And there is a strong continued focus on switching from fossil energy to renewable alternatives. Efforts are also ongoing to reduce the impact of both inbound and outbound transport.

To Volvo Penta, sustainability means much more than reducing emissions. It’s also about treating valuable resources responsibly and treating each other with respect.

“We are committed to delivering sustainable solutions that lower our climate footprint for the good of our customers, employees and the society at large. We now have the opportunity to make a difference, so let’s do it. And we are equally committed to using the world’s resources and conducting our business more responsibly in all our actions,” explains Heléne Mellquist.

With limited natural resources and economic activity expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050, the way the world handles valuable resources has to change radically. Increased circularity has a vital role in bringing about this change.

“Our ambition is to drive circularity from a supply chain perspective. We will develop a circular product range, increase our use of recycled raw materials and increase remanufacturing.”

But it’s not just valuable materials that have to be taken care of. Potentially hazardous materials must be removed, and alternatives found.

“Targets have been set to phase out potentially hazardous materials, chemicals and other substances where possible, and to secure their safe and responsible handling,” explains Heléne Mellquist. “In collaboration with our suppliers and Volvo Group, we proactively evaluate alternatives in the early design phase to minimize and eliminate materials, chemicals and substances of concern.”

Two workers in hi-vis on volvo penta site
“Targets have been set to phase out potentially hazardous materials, chemicals and other substances where possible”

People, People, People

Not surprisingly for a company known for its human-centric focus, Volvo Penta is just as committed to social sustainability as it is to the environment. As Helene Mellquist explains, an important part of Volvo Penta’s sustainability strategy is creating safe products and a safe, fair workplace that successfully promotes wellbeing through understanding.

“Safety comes first in everything,” says Heléne Mellquist. “At Volvo Penta, we have a vision for zero accidents – both for our customers with our products and services and for our employees at work.”

Volvo Penta’s focus on employee safety is part of an overall ambition to build a culture on a solid foundation of equality, diversity, respect for human rights and a genuine investment in people – both on a professional and personal level.

“An inclusive workplace culture based on equality that is free from harassment, discrimination and bias is expected here at Volvo Penta. We see diversity as a way to drive success. And by providing equal opportunities for development, we can all reach our full potential together.”

We’ve Only Just Begun…

Bringing about real, sustainable change takes time. And while targets set for 2050 may seem a long way off today, progress is being made every day – from reducing emissions and taking care of the world’s valuable resources, to taking care of each other and creating a culture where people thrive. For Volvo Penta, its sustainability activities prove that they are in this for the long haul.

“This is only the beginning,” says Heléne Mellquist. “Imagine what the world will look like ten years from now. We’ve got an exciting journey ahead and you are welcome to join us.”

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