As part of the Volvo Group’s focus on hybrid vehicles, Volvo Trucks is now commencing sales of heavy hybrid trucks, under the name Volvo FE Hybrid, to customers in selected European markets. The hybrid trucks permit fuel savings of up to 30 percent and will be used primarily in distribution and refuse operations in an urban environment.
“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,” says Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks’ Europe Division. The application of hybrid technology is best suited to densely populated areas, which involve the highest incidence of vehicle starts and stops.
Volvo FE Hybrid is referred to as a parallel hybrid, which is a technology entailing that energy from the diesel engine and electric motor is used either simultaneously or independently of each other. The technology switches automatically between the two power sources. Volvo’s hybrid technology has also been developed to maximize recycling of energy generated from braking. No extra charging from external sources is required.
“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,” says Claes Nilsson.
Depending on the driving cycle, the Volvo FE Hybrid can cut fuel and carbon dioxide emissions by between 15 and 20 per cent. In addition, using the electric compactor on the hybrid refuse trucks, up to 30 per cent can be saved.
“Our ability to initiate hybrid production is tremendously inspiring and important for our continuing product development, since some form of hybrid technology will be used for most trucks in the future. Hybrid operation is definitely a key piece in the puzzle when endeavoring to achieve energy-efficient transport,” says Claes Nilsson.
The trucks will initially be produced in a limited series of about 100 vehicles, starting in June. These trucks will be delivered during the period 2011 to 2013 to customers in 13 selected European markets. Sales may be extended to additional markets in the longer term.
The trucks will be manufactured in limited series production since the advanced hybrid technology requires customised production solutions. Battery technology is also constantly evolving. This means that the company’s after sales organisation is being trained in parallel to provide the right service to customers. To ensure the right level of quality and service, field tests have been held with a number of Volvo customers since spring 2008.
The Volvo Group has invested in the development of hybrid vehicles for several years. Volvo Buses launched serial production of hybrid buses at its plant in Poland in 2010.