Increased Fuel Efficiency for Volvo Trucks

By: Glady Reign

With the prices of fuel steadily rising, car owners are looking for ways to ease the pressure on their wallets. An answer provided by car manufactures, most notably Toyota and Honda, are hybrid vehicles which use an electric motor to drive their car along with whatever engine they are equipped with. These cars have been making great progress in terms of sales, focusing on the budget-conscious public. Fuel economy is significantly increased while still delivering great performance. Cars such as the Toyota Prius, which is the first mass produced hybrid automobile, are also environment friendly due to its lower emission levels.

Not only individuals are looking for ways to decrease their fuel consumption but also large companies which need trucks to transport their goods. On of these is Wal-Mart which recently announced that they are making a research on the possible use of hybrid technology in their truck fleet. Companies can increase their profits significantly if they can cut down their fuel consumption considerably. This is especially true for companies with a large fleet of trucks or buses. The answer, of course, is a hybrid truck that will use an electric motor to help its diesel engine - and that is just what Volvo has developed recently.

Joining forces with the US Air Force, Volvo has developed a hybrid truck technology using their I-SAM or the Integrated Starter Alternator Motor technology. The technology uses the starter alternator which doubles as an electric motor that will help a truck's diesel engine drive the car thus increasing fuel economy as much as 35 per cent. The fuel efficiency is, of course, just like that of hybrid cars. It actually depends on the application and the driving conditions. But nonetheless, the hybrid truck has reduced fuel consumption compared to natural diesel engine-only trucks. The Volvo Group will start production of four of these hybrid-powered trucks this year for the US Air Force.

The actual mass production of the said trucks for civilian use will follow after field testing to assess their real capability under varying road and weather conditions. Scheduled for 2008 through 2009, the company aims to produce 300,000 units for the waiting market. Much anticipation can be expected from potential buyers for the release of the technology which will greatly help in the protection of the environment. Not only will these trucks have lower emissions than the natural trucks but their fuel efficiency will take lesser toll on the decreasing fossil fuel reserves available.

The technology employed by Volvo's heavy-duty hybrid trucks, which is the use of the alternator as an electric motor, is currently employed by the Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid car. With this technology, the alternator/electric motor takes over the operation of the car during idling and other circumstances where less power is needed. This not only decreases the fuel consumption but also adds power to the truck. Volvo's hybrid truck's electric motor can give out a maximum of 160 horsepower and works through an electronic box, an energy storage box, and a powertrain control unit.

The truck will also have high performance parts on all its systems from steering to suspension, with high quality , down to the exhaust system which will further decrease the emission from the truck's engine. The comfort of the driver will also be given attention aside from the safety features that Volvo is known for.

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