Volvo to sell hybrid heavy trucks in Europe

Göteborg, Sweden: Volvo Trucks is to sell heavy hybrid trucks from June when limited series production of approximately 100 hybrid trucks starts. Deliveries to customers in key European markets Europe begin this year.

The quieter and cleaner hybrid trucks that can save as much as 30% on fuel will be used primarily in distribution and refuse operations in urban environments. Claes Nilsson, president of Volvo Trucks Europe Division said: “Our new Volvo FE Hybrid is a fantastic high-tech truck, which has already created a large amount of interest. It’s clear that there is a great demand for heavy hybrids.”

The Volvo FE Hybrid will be available initially in 13 European countries but sales may be extended to additional markets in the longer term. The trucks will be manufactured in limited series production because the advanced hybrid technology requires customised production solutions, says Volvo in a statement today. “Battery technology is also constantly evolving. This means that the company’s after sales organisation must be trained in parallel to provide the right service to customers,” it says.

“The fact that we are starting production of hybrids now is tremendously inspiring and important for future product development since some form of hybrid technology will exist in most trucks in the future. Hybridization is definitely an important piece of the puzzle for more fuel efficient transport,” says Nilsson. Hybrid technology is best suited to dense urban traffic where the number of stop-start cycles is high. To ensure the right level of quality and service, field tests have been held with a number of Volvo customers since spring 2008. Depending on the driving cycle, the Volvo FE Hybrid can cut fuel and carbon dioxide emissions by between 15 and 20%. In addition, using the electric compactor on the hybrid refuse trucks, up to 30% can be saved.

The Volvo FE Hybrid is a parallel hybrid, which means that energy from the diesel engine and electric motor can be utilised either together or independently of one another. The system switches automatically between the two power sources. When the hybrid is driven in first gear, the vehicle is powered solely by its electric motor, giving the driver alert throttle response and thus excellent driveability. Then, when the hybrid mode kicks in, the diesel engine and the electric motor will work in parallel to optimise fuel savings.

“What is more, Volvo’s hybrid technology is designed to recover as much as energy as possible during braking. No extra recharging from external sources is required. Electric power also cuts the overall noise level,” Volvo says. “The hybrid truck whispers its way around the streets, which improves the environment for the residents and, of course, for the people who operate the vehicle every day. During acceleration, the noise level is half that of a conventional diesel truck,” Nilsson says.

Volvo’s hybrid truck is powered by a 7-litre diesel engine producing 340hp and 1300Nm of torque in refuse operations and 300hp/1160Nm of torque in distribution operations. The diesel operates in parallel with a 120kilowatt electric motor. The electric motor gets its power from the very latest type of lithium ion batteries. The hybrid trucks, which are designed for applications up to 26-tonne gross weight, are available with a leasing agreement that includes a full maintenance and repair contract.

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