Traditional “luxury” materials, such as leather, are being phased out of Volvo Cars‘ car interiors. The company recently invested in Bcomp, an innovative company that is developing high-performance, lightweight materials based on natural flax fibres to replace conventional, petroleum-based plastics.
Biodegradable flax offers significant weight, energy use, and emissions savings over conventional plastic parts, as well as a wide range of new design possibilities in terms of surface aesthetics. Flax-based “plastics” are expected to be used by both Volvo and its spinoff performance BEV brand, Polestar, in their next-generation “vegan” interiors.
“This investment is yet another example of our commitment to sustainability and strategic focus on reducing our carbon footprint,” Alexander Petrofski, Head of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, said in an interview. With Bcomp and other leading technology companies, we have a long history of working together to help them grow and develop new products in global markets.
It has already been used in Volvo’s Concept Recharge and Polestar’s O2 roadster, with flax composites appearing in the lower storage areas, the back of the headrest and the driver and passenger footwells. In addition to the front and rear bumpers and door sills, flax is also used on the vehicles’ exterior.
As part of Volvo’s climate action plan, the automaker is committed to reducing its carbon emissions as much as possible until they reach net zero by the year 2040. In one of the industry’s most ambitious plans, the company aims to reduce current lifetime carbon emissions by 40% (compared to 2018) for each of its cars by model year 2025.
For its part, Polestar plans to keep its promise to build a carbon-neutral vehicle by 2030–and they intend to do so without the kind of “offset” credits that have sparked so much controversy at Tesla. Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar, says “offsetting is a cop-out.” A completely carbon-neutral car requires us to go beyond the boundaries of what is currently possible. As we design towards zero, we will need to question everything, innovate, and look to exponential technologies. “
What are your thoughts, guys? The investment in renewable plastic materials by Volvo and Polestar could be seen as either a sign of genuine concern and progressive thinking, or as a way for Volvo and Polestar to better greenwash their products. While we’re at it, how did you feel about Tesla’s jab? Let us know what you think in the comments section.