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Volvo Hybrid Truck

Despite accusations about hybrid cars not being as green as they are
perceived to be, more manufacturers are now developing hybrids, and now
Volvo is trialling a hybrid truck.

The company has launched two hybrid refuse trucks that will be tested
in regular daily operations in Sweden by refuse collection firms.

“This
test phase is the last stage in the evaluation of our hybrid solution
ahead of production launch,” says Staffan Jufors, president and CEO of
the Volvo Truck Corporation. “Since we presented our first concept
vehicle in 2006, we have seen considerably heightened market interest
in this technology. What makes our solution unique is that it is
sufficiently powerful to drive heavy vehicles and more cost-effective
than all other current alternatives. It is these characteristics that
determine whether a hybrid can be commercially viable. We will start
producing hybrid trucks in 2009.”

Volvo’s
hybrid solution combines a diesel engine with an electric motor, with
the electric motor being used for moving off from standstill and for
acceleration up to 20 km/h (12 mph). At higher speeds, the diesel
engine is activated, but when the truck stops the diesel engine
automatically switches off, thus avoiding unnecessary idling.

The
batteries are recharged using the power that is generated during
braking, making this system highly suitable for operating cycles
involving repeated stops and starts, such as refuse collection duties.

The
truck has a 7-litre diesel engine producing 320 hp with lithium-ion
batteries that are recharged via the energy generated from braking, or
via I-SAM (Integrated Starter Alternator Motor), which serves as a 120
kW starter motor, electric drive motor and alternator.

The
hybrid refuse trucks are expected to use up to 20 percent less fuel and
thus cut carbon dioxide emissions by a corresponding amount. One of the
trucks is equipped with an extra battery pack that drives the refuse
compactor and this is charged via the mains electrical system when the
truck is parked overnight. Its total reduction in carbon dioxide
emissions is expected to be as much as 30 percent, Volvo claims that
this approach is more eco-friendly than a truck powered by natural gas.

Electric
power has the added advantage of being entirely exhaust-free and
emitting low noise; important considerations for refuse collection
vehicles that often operate in urban areas early in the morning.

Volvo
sees hybrid technology as the future in all transport segments.
Initially, the company sees that hybrid technology will be utilised by
vehicles in urban operations, but in the longer term, Volvo aims to
offer hybrid trucks within long-haul and construction too.

“Hybrid
technology will play a major role in the future as the climate issue
and oil dependency come into ever-sharper focus,” says Mats Franzén,
engine manager at Product Strategy and Planning at Volvo Trucks. “No
matter which fuels dominate in the future, their supply will be
limited. Technology that leads to lower fuel consumption will be of
immense interest to our customers, irrespective of the type of haulage
operation with which they work. For distribution trucks, fuel
consumption may be able to be cut by 20 to 30 percent. In long-haul
operations, the percentage reduction will not be as great, but since
these trucks cover long distances, the total fuel saving will
nonetheless be considerable.”