It started with the noble aspiration to be a pioneer in green transport initiatives that would help to preserve the environment and the ozone layer. Knowing that automobiles are the primary cause for most carbon-dioxide emissions, major role-players are placing great importance on taking the necessary steps in reducing their carbon footprint. Clarissa van der Merwe follows the search for green solutions in the transport industry.
In South Africa, transport fuels make up to 30% of energy consumption (by energy content) and 70% by value, according to the Biofuels Industrial Strategy of the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME). There are various ways to cut fuel consumption and pollution. The pressing issue is, however, to find a more permanent, long-term solution that benefits drivers, manufacturers and, of course, the environment.
A world of possibilities
Enabling vehicles to communicate with each other, and with the traffic environment, opens up fantastic possibilities. Volvo Car Corporation recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the members of the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium regarding the implementation of standardised technology for communication between cars by 2016.
“In the future we will have advanced exchange of vital information between vehicles such as their position, speed and direction,” says Erik Israelsson, project leader of Cooperative ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) at Volvo Car Corporation.
The aim is for inter-car communication to function between all cars, irrespective of make. Communication takes place via a wireless network (similar to WLAN) and utilises existing systems such as the GPS navigation system. CAR 2 CAR has been granted a separate frequency so that cars within a given radius are automatically linked together and can exchange information about parameters such as their position, speed and direction. The installation of transmitters in the road infrastructure, such as road signs and traffic lights, further extends the communication network.
The application areas range from green-light optimum speed advisory, emergency vehicle warnings and traffic violation warnings to motorcycle-approaching indication lights and road-block warnings.
Apart from this future initiative, Volvo has also implemented a significant amount of innovative features in the V40, which was recently launched in South Africa. These features include park-assist pilot for parallel parking, lane-keeping aid, an enhanced blind-spot information system and a world first, pedestrian airbag technology to reduce the severity of pedestrian injuries in the event of a collision. Volvo makes great efforts to ensure all their vehicles are designed around you.
Turning over a new leaf
Like all other global automobile manufacturers, Nissan has quickly realised the importance of environmental stewardship and environmental sustainability. The Nissan Green Programme 2016 was created to help the company to achieve its environmental philosophy of “Symbiosis of people, vehicles and nature”.
The programme is Nissan Motors’ way of creating a more sustainable mobile society by addressing environmental challenges and finding routes around them, mainly being a reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions, minimising emissions to preserve the water, soil and atmosphere, and resource recycling to promote reducing, reusing and recycling. The overall objective is to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions wherever Nissan Motors has corporate endeavours, including offices, shops and factories. This is also complemented by Nissan Green Shop Activities, which include a large variety of environmental efforts that take place at Nissan Motors’ dealerships, including reducing waste, recycling and energy saving.
The programme was introduced in April 2000 as an environmental management system for all car dealerships.
Regarding Nissan’s further expansion into the green commercial transport sector, Veralda Schmidt, media liaison manager for Nissan South Africa, noted: “Nissan is working closely with certain role-players to bring Nissan LEAF to the local market. The government and other related organisations are currently undertaking programmes to ensure infrastructure support for electric vehicles. Nissan has a strategy of zero-emissions mobility in both passenger and commercial markets.”
In 2011 the innovative Nissan LEAF already won the JAHFA Car of the Year Award. Additionally, Nissan Motors also won the 2011-2012 Japan Automotive Hall of Fall (JAHFA) Car of the Year and Car Design of the Year Awards for LEAF, which has a lot to say about their aims to produce a beautiful energy-efficient, affordable car.
Full acknowledgement and thanks are given to Nissan and Volvo, for the information given to write this article.