What’s really behind the wheel of Volvo’s drive toward sustainability


On July 5th, Volvo announced that every new model introduced from 2019 and beyond will have an electric motor and will be either a hybrid or fully electric.

The New York Times called it, “the boldest commitment by any major car company to [commit to using] technologies that currently represent a small share of the total vehicle market”, but are viewed as essential to fighting climate change and urban pollution.

“Our customers are asking more and more about electric cars,” Hakan Samuelsson, the CEO of Volvo, told The New York Times. And though Volvo’s move is risky, Samuelsson recognized, “a much bigger risk would be to stick with internal combustion engines.”

But with less than 1% of the overall market share (and the note that older, combustion-engine models will continue to be produced until phased out), Volvo’s big commitment will only have a relatively small impact on reducing the source of 27% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Which leads us to think of the shift in the car company’s portfolio is a successful PR campaign.

Why? Because people heard about it. While other car manufactures have been steadily introducing electric cars, Volvo is the one making the headlines. The announcement has received media attention in top tier outlets like The New York Times, NPR and Reuters, as well as auto trade publications, and consumer interest sparked on social media.

Had you heard about it?

If so, then Volvo’s announcement worked. The company was hailed in the media as the “first major company”, “a bold move” and “industry leader” in the shift toward a sustainable future—a big concern for the public.

This is why leveraging the power of the media (with good, ground-breaking news) cannot be overlooked. Volvo took a risk, stepped out of their comfort zone, and most importantly, they spoke up. Especially in an age when most consumers believe brands have the power to make the world better place, this type of media exposure will impact Volvo far more than maintaining the status quo quietly in the background.

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