With improvements in aerodynamics, rolling resistance and reduced weight, Volvo Trucks has developed and enhanced the Volvo Concept Truck. First unveiled in 2016, the new version of the truck features a hybrid powertrain that the company claims is one of the first of its kind for heavy-duty trucks in long-haul applications. In combination with the vehicle’s other improvements, the total reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 is reported to be around 30%.
“We strive to be at the forefront of electromobility and to constantly push the limits when it comes to reducing fuel consumption and emissions," said Volvo Trucks' CEO Claes Nilsson, in a release statement. “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. 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.”
According to Volvo Trucks, the hybrid powertrain works by recovering energy when driving downhill on slopes steeper than 1%, 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 been developed specifically for the hybrid powertrain. It analyzes upcoming topography to calculate the most economical and efficient choice between the diesel engine and the electric motor, as well as 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% of the driving time. This will save between 5-10% in fuel, depending on the vehicle type or specification, and its drive cycle. Additionally, it offers the ability to drive in full electric mode for up to 10 km (6.2 mi), enabling the vehicle to operate with zero emissions and low noise.
“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.”
The Volvo Concept Truck is the result of the Swedish part of a bilateral research project involving both the Swedish energy authority Energimyndigheten and the U.S. Department of Energy.