Volvo Trucks’ latest concept vehicle tests a hybrid powertrain

Volvo Concept Truck 03The 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. (Image source: Volvo Trucks)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.

Claes Nilsson, CEO at Volvo Trucks, said, “Over the coming years, as society moves more and more towards renewable energy, we strongly believe that electromobility and hybrid technology will become increasingly important. The powertrain in our concept truck has been developed to improve transport efficiency and thereby help the industry towards sustainable transport. With the concept truck we will gain valuable knowledge and experience, which will help us develop the technology further.”

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.

By combining a hybrid powertrain with improvements in aerodynamics, rolling resistance and reduced weight, the Volvo Concept Vehicle can reduce fuel and emissions by around 30 per cent.

The Volvo Concept Truck can drive up to ten kilometres in full electric mode, operating with zero emissions and low noise.

In a typical long haul transportation assignment, 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, saving between five to 10 per cent in fuel.

The Volvo Concept Truck is designed to minimise air resistance without sacrificing other features. Examples of improvements are cameras instead of rear view mirrors, chassis skirts covering the wheels and a boat tail, which increases the length of the rear of the trailer.

“Today, long haul transport accounts for a significant share of the total energy consumption in the transportation sector. Using hybrid technology, the potential reduction in fuel and emissions is considerable and an important step towards reaching both our and society’s environmental goals for the future,” says Lars Mårtensson, director environment and innovation, Volvo Trucks.

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.”

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