Volvo Trucks has developed a concept hybrid vehicle designed for long-haul applications called the Volvo Concept Truck. In combination with the vehicle’s other improvements, Volvo claimed the total reduction in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emission is around 30 per cent.
It is the first time the manufacturer has looked at using a hybrid powertrain for heavy duty trucks in long haul applications. This reflects the increasing importance the company is placing on hybrid technology. The concept is the result of a bilateral research project involving both Energimyndigheten, the Swedish energy authority, and the US Department of Energy.
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 also been developed for the hybrid powertrain, said Volvo Trucks. This analyses upcoming topography to calculate the most economical and efficient choice between the diesel engine and the electric motor, in addition to the optimal time to use the recovered energy.
In long haul transportation, it is estimated that the hybrid powertrain will allow the internal combustion engine to be shut off for up to 30 per cent of the driving time, Volvo claimed. It said this will save between 5 and 10 % of 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.
“We strive to be at the forefront of electro-mobility and to constantly push the limits when it comes to reducing fuel consumption and emissions,” said Claes Nilsson, Volvo Trucks CEO. “Over the coming years, as society moves more and more towards renewable energy, we strongly believe that electro-mobility 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.”