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Volvo Hybrid Refuse Truck

Just to prove that green trucks exist as well as green cars, after more than a year of testing, Volvo’s hybrid refuse truck is achieving up to 30 per cent lower fuel consumption.

Volvo says that its truck, which is being tested by Veolia Environmental Services in central London, is the world’s first hybrid refuse truck. And it’s now being upgraded with new components and software.

The new truck is an upgraded version of the trucks field-tested in Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden over the past eighteen months. Like these trucks, the new refuse truck is a parallel hybrid. It has two separate energy sources, one for diesel and one for electricity, which can be used either separately or together. Each energy source can be used where it is most fuel-efficient: the electric motor at low revs, and the diesel engine at high revs.

The new refuse truck has electric power steering, completely new control systems and refined battery management strategies to optimise the battery performance. Loading and refuse compaction are completely electrically powered by means of a plug-in compactor that is charged via the mains electricity grid. The battery is also new, with improved reliability and a longer lifespan.

The initial results from all Volvo hybrid test vehicles show that predictions of up to 30 per cent less fuel and carbon dioxide emissions has been validated. Renova, a waste management company in Gothenburg, is among the customers that have been testing Volvo’s hybrid refuse truck since spring 2008, and they can report an even greater reduction.

“The hybrid has met our expectations and our drivers are highly satisfied,” says Lars Thulin, technical director at Renova. “The electrical power system provides high torque from start-up, low noise level, emission-free loading and refuse compaction. In terms of fuel consumption and climate impact, our measured results are even better than expected. We’ve achieved reductions of a staggering 35 per cent. On an annual basis, the hybrid saves us 5,250 litres of fuel compared to a traditional diesel engine…and we only drive single shifts.”

The refuse truck now being delivered to Veolia is not the first Volvo hybrid in London. Six Volvo hybrid buses have been operating on the streets of London since summer 2009.

Small-scale series production of the hybrids is planned, but not before 2012.