Hybrid beast sets the pace
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.