Hy­brid beast sets the pace

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels - JAMES STAN­FORD

BY the time the win­ter snow melts in Swe­den, this green beast could be­come the world’s fastest hy­brid truck.

It shouldn’t be too hard be­cause no other hy­brid truck has set a proper speed record, but Volvo wants to show just how fast a hy­brid truck can go when it sets out this year.

The truck is called Mean Green and is a fac­tory-backed mon­ster that will be driven by truck speed racer Boije Ove­brink.

Not only is it a hy­brid and runs on bio-diesel, but the Mean Green is also a good ex­am­ple of re­cy­cling be­cause it has sev­eral com­po­nents that were bound for the scrap heap.

That said, this is no soft ecofriendly mo­bile. It has a storm­ing twin-tur­bocharged 16-litre diesel un­der the bon­net and an elec­tric mo­tor that will kick in to give this Volvo a big boost off the line.

The stand­ing dam test means the driver must go from a stand­still to as fast as pos­si­ble for a kilo­me­tre in one direc­tion and then re­peat the run in the other direc­tion.

The re­sult is the av­er­age speed from both runs.

Ove­brink has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence with this kind of for­mat, break­ing his own speed record last June with a twin-turbo diesel NH16 Volvo that clocked an av­er­age of 166.7km/h.

In 2007, Ove­brink broke his 2001 record by notch­ing up an av­er­age of 158.829km/h over the 1km run.

Af­ter that, Volvo Trucks chief Staffan Ju­fors asked him about his next plan.

The driver replied he wanted to build the world’s fastest hy­brid truck.

Ove­brink says he was keen to build a su­per-fast hy­brid truck and only later found out Volvo Trucks was it­self work­ing on some pow­er­ful hy­brid tech­nol­ogy. Ju­fors was sup­port­ive of the hy­brid plan and Ove­brink and a small Volvo team headed by en­gi­neer Olof Jo­hans­son started work on the truck.

Not long af­ter work started, a Czech out­fit called Bug­gyra claimed to have beaten Ove­brink’s 2007 record.

With this, Volvo shelved plans for the hy­brid record and in­stead set out to help Ove­brink re­claim the out­right record for the stand­ing 1km run.

Even though the Czech team’s re- sult was later dis­al­lowed, he pressed on for the new record.

With that record more firmly in Volvo’s grasp, the team switched its at­ten­tion back to hy­brid speed pro­ject.

The Mean Green racer is a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the FH16 that now holds the 1km stand­ing start record, but runs a hy­brid pow­er­train.

Jo­hans­son de­scribes how he built the light­weight ma­chine with a rel­a­tively small bud­get: ‘‘I started build­ing the truck from two half frames that had been ear­marked for the scrap­yard,’’ he says. ‘‘ And the Amer­i­can VN cab came from a crasht­ested chas­sis whose cab was to­tally in­tact.’’

Jo­hans­son set out to try and cut as much weight out of the truck as pos­si­ble and it came from some sur­prise places.

‘‘I slit open the wiring har­nesses and re­moved un­nec­es­sary wiring. That slashed al­most 6kg,’’ he says. Volvo Trucks ex­perts also chipped in, turn­ing down the front axle and man­ag­ing to shave off 43kg. The com­pany also no­ticed Ove­brink was a bit on the chubby side.

‘‘They made me prom­ise to lose 20kg and so far I’m half-way to my tar­get,’’ he says.

Ready to go: (right) Driver Boije Ove­brink and (left) Volvo’s hy­brid truck, Mean Green.

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