Volvo at your disposal
The Swedes believe hybrid trucks are the future, writes GRAHAMSMITH
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).