Volvo’s innovative concept truck cuts fuel consumption by 30%

Heavy commercial vehicle manufacturer Volvo Group has developed a new concept truck which can make 30% savings in fuel consumption, with the vehicle forming part of a five-year long research project aiming to improve the efficiency of long-haul transportation by 50%.

With support from the Swedish Energy Agency, the Volvo Concept Truck will benefit from low fuel consumption through a 40% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, optimised air flow for the engine’s cooling system and minimised air resistance in both the trailer and tractor. The research project is a bilateral joint venture between Sweden and the USA which aims to produce more energy-efficient vehicles on the North American market.

Volvo Trucks chief executive Claes Nilsson said: “We continuously work on developing more energy-efficient vehicles. This is a high-priority area both out of environmental concern and in order to reduce our customers’ costs. We’re proud to be able to drive this development. Our concept truck showcases the immense power of on-going technical advances.”

Rear-view cameras

The conventional rear-view mirrors on the truck have been replaced by cameras, which have the advantage of offering better visibility and increased safety. Additionally, the Volvo Trucks vehicle weighs two tonnes less than the reference trailer, and is fitted with newly developed tyres with lower rolling resistance.

“We’ve modified the entire rig and optimised it for improved aerodynamics as much as possible. For instance, we use cameras instead of rear-view mirrors. This cuts air resistance, so less energy is needed to propel the truck,” Volvo Trucks chief project manager Åke Othzen said.

Since the concept vehicle is part of a research project it will not be available on the market, but some of its aerodynamic features have already been implemented on Volvo Trucks’ series-produced vehicles, and more of its solutions may be fitted in the future.

Autonomous driving

Volvo Truck’s energy-efficiency commitment is the culmination of ongoing efforts from Volvo in the low-emission vehicle space over the past several years. In April, the Swedish firm made a pledge to sell a total of one million electric vehicles (EVs) by 2020 through the introduction of a new range of plug-in hybrids and its first all-electric model.

In the same week, the company revealed it will be trialling an ambitious autonomous driving (AD) system in the UK next year, representing the “largest and most extensive AD testing programme on Britain’s streets”.

George Ogleby

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