Photo: Sven-Erik Lindstrand

Photo: Sven-Erik Lindstrand

Volvo Trucks introduced the Adaptive Loading 6x2 liftable forward axle at the Mid-America Trucking Show, in Louisville, Ky. The axle automatically adjusts to load weight changes and offers 4x2 operation in certain conditions.

Adaptive loading is designed for bulk haul or general freight operations where a truck goes out loaded and returns empty or for diminishing load applications. The axle can provide better fuel efficiency, improved traction, and reduced maintenance costs.

A 6x2 setup can reduce weight by up to 300 pounds compared with a 6x4, and it has several benefits including increased payload capacity and improved fuel economy. The liftable forward axle combined with Volvo’s electronically controlled suspension transfers weight among the two axles. Adaptive Loading can adjust the ECS based on pre-programmed weight thresholds to automatically lift the axle in empty or light-load situations, creating a 4x2 configuration. The 4x2 configuration has the effect of reducing rolling resistance.

Company officials explained that traction is actually better than a standard 6x4 configuration. The dynamic weight transfer, as truck is running down the road, will automatically transfer weight to the driven axle. It monitors the ABS, and if the truck starts slipping it loads the driven axle more. During high slip situations the driver can flip a switch to enhanced traction control that will put more weight on the driven axle, for instance as they're entering a grade that's slippery.

Volvo Trucks is also offering powertrain packages with the feature to further improve efficiency. Both the XE Adaptive Gearing and XE economy packages add a downspeed powertrain with Adaptive Loading.

“For many operations that run empty or lightly loaded much of the time, Adaptive Loading is an innovative way to change the truck’s configuration on the fly for maximum efficiency,” said Goran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America.

Available on the VNL and the VMN up to 90,000 pounds GCW, this option is expected to be most applicable to bulk haulers, regional distribution and diminishing-load carriers. There may also be some use for some dry van fleets that return with empty backhauls.