Gaining hands-on experience of one of the biggest heavy-duty truck manufacturers in the world – the Members of the Transport Category visited Volvo Trucks in Ghent on 27 June.
After their normal meeting at EESC headquarters, where the highlight of the day was the election of the spokesperson of the Category, Stefan Back, the Members of the Transport Category left the office to head to the Volvo Trucks plant in Ghent. Volvo's Director for EU Public Affairs, Karl Pihl, and Product Manager for Trucks, Philippe Jacquemyns, warmly welcomed the Transport Category Members.
Together they discussed Volvo's organisation and business areas, as well as its main core values, namely safety, environmental care and quality. Members learned more about the company's vision of zero emissions from trucks and engaged in a discussion on alternative fuels as a vital factor for the future. Volvo's representatives also stressed the company's steps towards renewable energy – in 2007, the Ghent factory became the first CO2-neutral vehicle assembly plant in the world, which was the first milestone towards the company's ambitious plan to make the entirety of its global operations climate-neutral by 2025.
On the topic of mobility within cities, Members discussed the path towards electro-mobility and full electrification and looked at different types of vehicles that are gradually lowering CO2 emissions: hybrid buses (30%-40% energy reduction), electric hybrid buses (60% energy reduction), and full electric buses (80% energy reduction).
Volvo's representatives made the case for automation and encouraged everyone to believe in technology. The company's progress towards automation was presented using the following five-step scale: no feet, no hands, no eyes, no head, no driver. Members then took a guided tour of the plant where they could see in real time how trucks are put together on the assembly line.
Volvo's plant in Ghent is the biggest Volvo truck production site in the world. It produces more than 43000 trucks per year – the equivalent of one truck rolling off the assembly line every five minutes.