Volvo concept truck uses hybrid power to cut fuel use, emissions


Volvo Concept Truck

Volvo Concept Truck

Enlarge Photo

Because they cover significantly more mileage than the average passenger car, with much worse fuel economy, large commercial trucks are a major source of emissions.

Last year, Volvo Trucks aimed to address this issue with a concept truck that demonstrated ways to improve fuel efficiency through aerodynamics and weight reduction.

Volvo Trucks sells large commercial vehicles under the same name and logo as Volvo Cars, but is actually an entirely separate entity.

CHECK OUT: Lighter Volvo aero truck concept is 30 percent more fuel-efficient (Jul 2016)

Now, the Swedish firm has fitted the concept truck with a prototype hybrid powertrain.

The system recovers energy when the vehicle is driving downhill or braking, and uses it to enable all-electric driving on flat roads or low gradients, Volvo Trucks said in a press release.

It claims the concept is capable of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of all-electric driving.

Volvo Concept Truck

Volvo Concept Truck

Enlarge Photo
In regular use, a truck equipped with this powertrain could operate with its internal-combustion engine shut off 30 percent of the time, cutting fuel consumption by 5 to 10 percent, according to Volvo Trucks.

The company previously said the concept truck's aerodynamic improvements and weight reduction allowed for fuel savings of 30 percent over a conventional truck.

ALSO SEE: Road for electric trucks with trolley-like catenary opens in Sweden (Jul 2016)

The concept is also fitted with a hybrid-specific version of Volvo's I-See driver-assist system, which analyzes upcoming topography using GPS data and digital maps.

Software determines the most efficient use of both the diesel engine and electric motor based on the terrain, as well as the optimal times for energy recovery, Volvo says.

Volvo Concept Truck

Volvo Concept Truck

Enlarge Photo
The truck itself is based on Volvo's FH 420 model, which uses a 12.9-liter inline 6-cylinder diesel engine in stock form.

Aerodynamic modifications include chassis side skirts on the tractor, fairings covering all but the front set of wheels, and spoilers on the back of the trailer.

MORE: Plug-in hybrid utility truck keeps lights on during emergencies

Volvo also replaced the side-view mirrors with cameras, something Tesla and other automakers have unsuccessfully lobbied to make legal in the U.S.

Altogether, the changes improve aerodynamic efficiency by 40 percent over a conventional truck, Volvo previously said.

Volvo Concept Truck

Volvo Concept Truck

Enlarge Photo
The concept truck also rides on low-rolling resistance tires, and its trailer is 2.2 tons lighter than a conventional trailer, according to Volvo.

Work on the concept began in 2011, and the truck began testing in the fall of 2015.

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The truck itself won't go into production, but Volvo says some of its aerodynamic elements are being incorporated into the vehicles it actually sells.

Development work on the concept truck will continue, with the ultimate goal of reducing fuel consumption by 50 percent over a conventional truck.

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