With the Volvo Concept Truck, Volvo Trucks has developed its first hybrid vehicle designed for long haul applications. In combination with the vehicle’s other improvements, the total reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 is around 30 per cent.
Volvo Trucks first unveiled the Volvo Concept Truck in May 2016, and has now developed and enhanced the vehicle even further. In addition to the improvements in aerodynamics, rolling resistance and reduced weight, the new version also features a hybrid powertrain – one of the first of its kind for heavy-duty trucks in long haul applications.
The hybrid powertrain works by recovering energy when driving downhill on slopes steeper than one per cent, or when braking. The recovered energy is stored in the vehicle’s batteries and used to power the truck in electric mode on flat roads or low gradients. An enhanced version of Volvo Trucks’ driver support system I-See has been developed specially for the hybrid powertrain, which analyses upcoming topography to calculate the most economical and efficient choice between the diesel engine and the electric motor, as well as the optimal time to use the recovered energy.
In long haul transportation, it is estimated that the hybrid powertrain will allow the combustion engine to be shut off for up to 30 per cent of the driving time. This will save between 5-10 per cent in fuel, depending on the vehicle type or specification, and its drive cycle. It also offers the ability to drive in full electric mode for up to 10 kilometres, enabling the vehicle to operate with zero emissions and low noise.
The Volvo Concept Truck also builds on many of the gains achieved by its predecessor, namely improved aerodynamics, rolling resistance and reduced vehicle weight.
“This is a platform for verifying several new technologies for increasing transport efficiency,” says Åke Othzén, Chief Project Manager, Volvo Trucks. “Some of these developments have already been introduced to our trucks, and some will be introduced in the near future. The hybrid powertrain is partly based on knowledge and experience from Volvo Buses’ hybrid and electric buses.”
The Volvo Concept Truck is the result of the Swedish part of a bilateral research project involving both the Swedish energy authority Energimyndigheten and the US Department of Energy.
An American Concept Truck, the SuperTruck project, was developed as part of the US Department of Energy’s SuperTruck programme, which promotes research and development to improve transport efficiency for long-haul operations in North America.