Top Stories

July 05, 2017

Technology & Innovation

Volvo to use electric motors in all cars from 2019

Volvo Cars announced that every model from 2019 onwards would have an electric motor, making it the first traditional carmaker to call time on vehicles powered solely by an internal combustion engine. Volvo said that it would put electrification at the core of its business. From 2019 it will only make three types of cars: pure-electric, plug-in hybrids, and so-called “mild” hybrids combining a small petrol engine with a large battery. “This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive. Alongside no new Volvo cars being sold without an electric motor, the company also aims to make its manufacturing operations “climate-neutral” by 2025. Volvo’s agenda is likely to raise questions about the position of Tesla, the US electric car start-up whose market valuation has soared during a time in which it has no serious rivals in pure-electric cars. (Financial Times*)


Microsoft teams up with EVEN Electric to develop electric car trading website

Technology start-up EVEN Electric has struck a deal with software giant Microsoft to build a global Electric Vehicle (EV) smart trading platform, which is earmarked for launch in 2018. EVEN Electric’s founder and CEO, Gisli Gislason, said the new trading platform is designed to provide an alternative means of purchasing electric cars that challenges the grip on the market held by car dealers more used to selling internal combustion engine cars. The co-operation agreement with Microsoft Sweden follows trials of the platform in Iceland, and will see the two firms first launch the platform in the Nordic region before expanding it globally “one country at a time”. The platform combines price comparison website services with AI technology to “effectively match the needs of access to products and services linked to electric cars”, EVEN Electric said. It will also support a physical distribution channel for EV manufacturers to showcase their products. (Business Green*)


More than half of US employees do not take paid leave

According to the annual ‘Project: Time Off’ report of 7,331 Americans, the average full-time employee took 16.8 days holiday in 2016. This means that more than half of U.S. workers are leaving paid leave on the table. As Project Time Off points out, not only does this hurt productivity overall, as breaks from work are necessary, it dings the economy. “If Americans were to use that vacation time, it would generate $128 billion in direct spending, and an overall economic impact of $236 billion for the U.S. economy,” the report’s authors write. There are marked differences between who feels comfortable taking vacation and who doesn’t. Gender and job title play a role in whether or not workers take vacation. Nearly half (48%) of men reported using all their vacation time in 2016, But the study’s authors note, “While women say that vacation is ‘extremely’ important to them, more so than men (58% to 49%), only 44% of women use all their time off.” Overall, the report’s authors write, “Fear of returning to a mountain of work remains the top challenge to taking time off (43%).” The workers surveyed who didn’t take vacation were not only more stressed on the job, but less likely to have received a promotion within the last year (23% to 27%). (Fast Company)


CEO Force for Good offers strategic roadmap for companies responding to new global challenges

The CECP: The CEO Force for Good has drawn together its current research base to develop a series of insights designed to help guide companies as they shape their social strategies. CECP is a CEO led coalition founded in 1999 by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman and other business leaders to create a better world through business. According to live polling conducted at the 2017 Board of Boards, 60% of CEOs feel equipped or well equipped to meet expectations in the current business and sociopolitical environment, and 66% recognize the role their companies play in long-term societal improvement. This new collection of data and insights, Investing in Society, highlights corporate best practice and innovation, drawn from CECP’s coalition of leading global companies. The report delves into what actions companies are taking to identify and effectively meet stakeholder needs, and how a unified approach across all business units supports the effort. (CSR Wire)

Responsible Investment

Asia Pacific investors take the lead on ESG integration

Asia Pacific investors have leapt ahead of their global counterparts in integrating Environment, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) strategies into their investment decisions, a new survey has revealed. The survey, published by leading global securities bank BNP Paribas Securities Services, reported that 84% of the 135 institutional asset owners and managers representing $5.4trillion in assets under management surveyed in Asia Pacific are currently integrating ESG factors into their investment decisions. European investors closely trailed behind, with 82 % of those surveyed having reported incorporating ESG. Only 70% of investors from North America said they are doing so. Asia Pacific’s high ESG integration rate bodes well for the region, which is the world’s fastest growing economy, but also home to the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries. According to the report, 46% of investors from Asia Pacific gave the highest importance on the environmental impacts of investments. (Eco-Business)

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Image Source: Electric car charging station by Håkan Dahlström at Flickr. CC 2.0