Volvo has developed a hybrid power train for long-haul vehicles that reduces fuel consumption and emissions

Volvo introduces first hybrid powertrain for trucks to clean up long-haul transport

Image credit: Volvo Trucks

Volvo has developed a new version of its hybrid Concept Truck featuring an innovative powertrain that can cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 30 per cent compared to the earlier prototype.

Volvo’s Concept Truck, originally unveiled in May 2016, is one of the first examples of hybrid technology in long-haul vehicles. The hybrid powertrain is the key innovation in the new Concept Truck, which also features improved aerodynamics and rolling resistance, as well as reduced weight.

The powertrain enables the truck to recover kinetic energy while braking and also when driving downhill on slopes steeper than one per cent. 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. The truck can drive for up to 10km in full electric mode, producing zero emissions and much less noise. 

“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,” said Volvo Trucks CEO Claes Nilsson.

“The powertrain in our concept truck has been developed to improve transport efficiency and thereby help the industry towards sustainable transport.”

The powertrain uses data from a driver support system, which analysis the topography ahead to calculate how to use energy most efficiently by switching between the vehicle’s diesel engine and electric motor. The system also suggests 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, leading to a five to 10 per cent reduction in fuel consumption.

“Today, long-haul transport accounts for a significant share of the total energy consumption in the transportation sector,” explained Lars Martensson, director of environment and innovation at Volvo Trucks. “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.”

Volvo developed the Concept Truck in cooperation with the Swedish part of a bilateral research project involving both the Swedish energy authority Energimyndigheten and the US Department of Energy.

Volvo hopes to increase the energy efficiency of the technology through further research.

“This is a platform for verifying several new technologies for increasing transport efficiency,” said 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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