Håkan Agnevall is president of Volvo Bus Corporation. When he looks into his crystal ball, he sees a world in which the conditions for urban planning and the design of airports are rapidly changing. Quiet, energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly buses could soon take their passengers straight to malls and airport terminals, places they previously couldn’t reach. The future is electric and it’s almost here.

“My home airport is actually Göteborg Landvetter, but I’m very often at Arlanda, as recently as yesterday, in fact. Many of our international customers arrive there. That means Arlanda is in many cases their first contact with Sweden. It’s an important airport for much of Sweden since it creates access, but it’s also important as a face to the world,” says Håkan Agnevall, president of Volvo Bus, one of the world’s leading makers of vehicle systems for mass transit.

“Arlanda not only has to make a good impression. Its traffic solutions, logistics and baggage handling also have to be in full working order – and then there need to be air links available so people can get elsewhere. These are the practical requirements that need to be met. I think that Arlanda today feels more like a major international airport than in the past, but further steps can be taken to make it more of a showcase for Swedish business. I think Arlanda and Sweden could be role models for energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly logistics – that is, for the movement of people and goods.

“Since I work at Volvo Bus, it’s clear that the transport of people is something very dear to me, and electric buses are the future. It would create a good image of Sweden if we switched to these kinds of systems. After all, we know energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly transport is needed, not just to and from airports or between terminals and car parks, but also out on the apron for transport between aircraft and terminals.

“Volvo is focused on transport systems based on different kinds of electric buses. What’s nice about them is that they are energy-efficient, emission-free and also quiet. That solves several problems. Step one is that the cities of the future, and airports for that matter, have to focus on air quality. We know that roughly three million people die each year due to air pollution. Electrically-powered transport is environmentally-friendly and efficient, and a switch to this would entail a considerable reduction in air pollution.

“Step two is that this creates a brand-new tool for urban planning and airport design, among other things, when mass transit can operate literally anywhere, even indoors. At the airport, it could mean that buses run right up to the terminal so that people can avoid freezing in the rain and foul weather. This is entirely possible with the systems we have today. Step three is when we use battery systems to interact with the electrical grid. Electric buses will then be a component in a comprehensive system that creates new opportunities for even more efficient, smart power systems.

“The change will come earlier than we think. I recently read an analysis that said in 2022 half of the city buses sold in Europe will have some form of electric drivetrain. For a company like Volvo Bus, it’s incredibly interesting, of course, to play a part in driving this development.

“We’ve worked with different prototypes, but when we begin a series production, it’s always a matter of products that will work 24/7, regardless of the weather, for many years. We’re conducting a dialogue with Swedavia about the ways of getting to the airport in the future. At Arlanda, there are already hybrid fuel buses for transporting people between the car parks and terminals. The next step will be plug-ins and electric hybrids. And if we fly to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, we take an electric bus from the plane to the terminal – granted, not a Volvo bus, but still. So it’s a question of technology. It’s available and ready for commercial use. It’s a matter of creating the right economic conditions and making the necessary decisions,” says Håkan Agnevall.

“For people like us who work with commercial vehicles, these are exciting times. In just a few years, there will be more happening in technology and systems development than there has been in the past thirty years. New alternative drivetrains are just part of this – and electric power will be the main approach going forward for the transport of both people and goods. There’s no reason, for instance, why goods at Arlanda should not be transported in electric-powered vehicles.

“We’ll also see more automated, self-driven vehicles soon. They’ll come in different phases and in different areas, but they will come. In the beginning, we’ll see them in fenced-off areas, such as mines, gravel pits and depot driving. The next step will be buses with their own dedicated lanes, in which they can follow one another, more or less autonomously, and there will be special docking stations where they can pick up people waiting for transport on their own.

“Mass transit, when many people travel together, gives us much more efficient flows. All traffic will be more efficient using modern communication technology. We’ll connect different sensors with 5G and extract data for flow analyses, which will be used to prevent queues and thus create value for passengers, who will get to the airport quickly and easily. Technology will also help build vehicles that work in all situations and that signal on their own if something isn’t as it should be. That gives us more reliability in systems.”

Håkan Agnevall

BORN: 1957 in Helsingborg, Sweden

OCCUPATION: President of Volvo Bus

CURRENTLY: Volvo Bus, which has received to date what is its largest order of comprehensive solutions for electrified bus traffic. The order is a milestone and confirmation that more and more of the world’s cities are choosing electric-powered city bus traffic in order to deal with poor air quality and noise.


When I travel on my own

“For understandable reasons, I fly a lot in my job. Otherwise, I like to take the bus, or even better, drive a bus. I have a bus driving licence, so I like to test-drive our tourist coaches to get a sense of how they perform on the road. Otherwise, I’m like most people, I drive my car a lot and I like to cycle.”


“There are no doubt lots of nice places I’ve never been, but I spend so many days travelling that I would say that home is my favourite destination, or maybe Båstad, Sweden, where I grew up. The summers there are pleasant, and I have many contacts there, so I like to travel there.”

Electric buses

Electric power allows traffic in places and at times where it has not been possible to travel to until now – indoors, in sensitive environments and at night. To reduce fossil fuel emissions, Arlanda is planning a switch to electric-powered buses for transport between terminals and car parks and between the aircraft parking stands and terminals. In the first phase, nearly half of Swedavia’s own buses will be replaced with electric-powered vehicles, and the first ones are expected to be placed in service in 2018.

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