Euro-spec Volvo Concept Truck boasts hybrid diesel-electric powertrain. Photo: Volvo Trucks

Euro-spec Volvo Concept Truck boasts hybrid diesel-electric powertrain. Photo: Volvo Trucks

Sweden’s Volvo Trucks has developed its first hybrid truck designed for long-haul applications— a concept vehicle based on its European-spec Volvo FH cabover tractor powered by Volvo’s own D13 Euro 6 emissions-compliant diesel engine.

The diesel-electric hybrid powertrain combined with the Volvo Concept Truck’s other efficiency improvements yields a total reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 production of around 30%, according to the OEM.

When first rolled out in May 2016, the Volvo Concept Truck featured extensive improvements in aerodynamics, rolling resistance and reduced weight. It was developed via a similar public-private initiative as the SuperTruck program that Volvo has participated in with the U.S. Department of Energy. The Volvo Concept Truck came about via the Swedish part of a bilateral research project involving the Swedish energy authority Energimyndigheten and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Volvo Trucks said the Swedish concept’s hybrid powertrain works by recovering energy when driving downhill on slopes steeper than 1% or when braking. The recovered energy is stored in the vehicle's batteries and used to power the truck in electric mode on flat roads or low gradients.

In addition, an enhanced version of Volvo Trucks' driver support system I-See has been developed specifically for the hybrid powertrain. It's used to analyze upcoming topography to calculate the most economical and efficient choice between the diesel engine and the electric motor-- as well as the optimal time to use the recovered energy.  

In long haul transportation, it is estimated that the hybrid powertrain will allow the combustion engine to be shut off for up to 30% of driving time, according to Volvo Trucks.

The OEM estimated that will save between 5-10% cent in fuel, depending on the vehicle type, specifications and drive cycle. It also offers the ability to drive in full electric mode for up to 10 kilometers (just over 6 miles), so the truck can run with zero emissions and low noise for short stretches.

"We strive to be at the forefront of electromobility and to constantly push the limits when it comes to reducing fuel consumption and emissions," said Volvo Trucks CEO. "Over the coming years, as society moves more and more towards renewable energy, we strongly believe that electromobility and hybrid technology will become increasingly important. The powertrain in our concept truck has been developed to improve transport efficiency and thereby help the industry towards sustainable transport. With the concept truck we will gain valuable knowledge and experience, which will help us develop the technology further."

The Volvo Concept Truck is “a platform for verifying several new technologies for increasing transport efficiency," said Åke Othzén, chief project manager, Volvo Trucks. "Some of these developments have already been introduced to our trucks, and some will be introduced in the near future. The hybrid powertrain is partly based on knowledge and experience from Volvo Buses' hybrid and electric buses."