Volvo at your dis­posal

The Swedes be­lieve hy­brid trucks are the fu­ture, writes GRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

HY­BRID trucks ap­pear closer than ever to be­com­ing an everyday re­al­ity if the num­ber dis­played at the re­cent Hanover Truck Show in Ger­many is an ac­cu­rate in­di­ca­tion.

Vir­tu­ally ev­ery Euro­pean truck maker rep­re­sented had medium-duty hy­brid mod­els on show, a huge jump from the last show two years ago, where hy­brids were few and far be­tween and the em­pha­sis was on the new Euro 4 and Euro 5 emis­sion en­gines. At this show they were a prom­i­nent fea­ture of ev­ery stand.

Volvo led the way with the release of two hy­brid garbage trucks that are about to go on a test run in Swe­den.

The Swedish truck­maker is so com­mit­ted to hy­brids as the fu­ture in a fuel-starved world it is ac­cel­er­at­ing its de­vel­op­ment of hy­brid drive sys­tems, and not just for ur­ban op­er­a­tions like garbage col­lec­tion.

‘‘Since we pre­sented our first con­cept ve­hi­cle in 2006, we have seen con­sid­er­ably height­ened mar­ket in­ter­est in this tech­nol­ogy,’’ Staffan Ju­fors, pres­i­dent and CEO of Volvo Truck Cor­po­ra­tion, says.

‘‘What makes our so­lu­tion unique is it’s pow­er­ful enough to drive heavy ve­hi­cles and is more cost­ef­fec­tive than all other cur­rent al­ter­na­tives.

‘‘It is th­ese char­ac­ter­is­tics that de­ter­mine whether a hy­brid can be com­mer­cially vi­able.’’

Ju­fors says Volvo will be­gin pro­duc­ing the hy­brid truck next year.

The Volvo FE Hy­brid garbage truck uses a 240kW, 7.0-litre en­gine with a 120kW elec­tric mo­tor that serves as a starter mo­tor, elec­tric drive mo­tor and al­ter­na­tor.

Volvo’s sys­tem uses the elec­tric mo­tor from stand­still and for ac­cel­er­a­tion up to 20km/h, when the diesel cuts in. When the truck stops the diesel en­gine au­to­mat­i­cally cuts out, sav­ing fuel and emis­sions.

The sys­tem’s bat­ter­ies are recharged dur­ing brak­ing, mak­ing the hy­brid suited to stop-start applications such as garbage col­lec­tion.

An ad­di­tional bat­tery is used to drive the garbage com­pactor in­stead of us­ing the truck’s bat­tery power.

The aux­il­iary power pack is charged overnight from the mains.

Volvo ex­pects the hy­brid garbage truck to save up to 20 per cent in fuel, with a sim­i­lar sav­ing in emis­sions, over a con­ven­tional diesel truck. The sav­ings from the truck with the ad­di­tional bat­tery pack is claimed to be up to 30 per cent.

Volvo is also work­ing hard on other applications. The com­pany be­lieves po­ten­tial sav­ings on even long-haul applications make the hy­brid sys­tem vi­able.

‘‘Hy­brid tech­nol­ogy will play a big role in the fu­ture as the cli­mate is­sue and oil de­pen­dency come into ever sharper fo­cus,’’ Mats Franzen, en­gine man­ager at the com­pany’s prod­uct strat­egy and plan­ning depart­ment, says.

‘‘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.’’

Bright yel­low and very green: Volvo’s hy­brid garbage truck lets the driver mon­i­tor the ex­te­rior with a dash­board screen (be­low).

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