Volvo's SuperTruck arrives


The concept truck features a range of advanced designs that went 38 per cent beyond its goal

Volvo's SuperTruck arrives
Volvo's SuperTruck concept.

 

Volvo Trucks North America has unveiled its SuperTruck concept truck overnight packed full of advanced vehicle and powertrain technology.

Designed as part of a US government department of energy (DOE) program, Volvo says its SuperTruck has achieved a freight efficiency boost of 88 per cent thanks to the integration of solar panels, a lightweight frame, and advanced powertrain.

"With the support of DOE’s SuperTruck program, Volvo Trucks has presented an exciting vision of trucking’s future," Volvo Trucks North America president Göran Nyberg says.

"Even more impressive is the fact that these tremendous gains were made against a base model Volvo that already in 2009 averaged 7 miles per gallon (2.98 kilometres per litre)."

Volvo says the SuperTrucks’ efficiency sits at 12 miles per gallon (5.10 kilometres per litre) – with some results besting that number – and the truck’s powertrain brake thermal efficiency reached 50 per cent.

A five-year research project, the SuperTruck program aimed to improve the freight efficiency numbers of a 2009 base model truck by 50 per cent – both in payload carried and fuel consumed.

To achieve the savings, Volvo says it shortened the front end of the vehicle, integrated a sharper downward sloping hood, used lightweight fairings, switched the rearview mirrors with cameras, and redesigned the chassis to be made almost entirely out of aluminium.

The improvements lightened the chassis weight by half and saved 3,200 pounds (1.45 tonnes) from the overall truck weight. 

Powering the lighter frame is an 11-litre Volvo engine, which the truck maker says has been "downsized" and features "advanced fuel injection, cooling, oil and turbo-charging systems, as well as new ‘wave’ pistons and other improvements."

The truck also utilises a Rankine waste-heat recovery system, which Volvo says "converts heat normally wasted in exhaust into torque, boosting fuel economy by helping to power the vehicle."

Fuel economy is further aided by a more knowledgeable powertrain, thanks to Volvo’s I-See solution.

The feature "memorises thousands of routes travelled and uses that knowledge to optimise cruise speed and keep the I-shift automated manual transmission in the most fuel-efficient gear possible," the company says.

It "was an integral part of the fuel efficiency gains seen during SuperTruck on-road testing."

 

 

Some of the technology created during the initiative has already made its way across to the commercial side of the business, with the wave piston, turbo compounding system and common rail fuel injection system being included in the 2017 engine line-up.

Aerodynamic improvements are also seen in the company’s VNL range.

"Our work through this program is paying dividends for today’s customers through the SuperTruck innovations we’ve already integrated into our products," Nyberg says.

Volvo will aim to improve the numbers further as part of the SuperTruck II program, which targets a 100 per cent improvement on a ton-mile-per-gallon basis, and a powertrain capable of 55 per cent brake thermal efficiency.

 

 

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