Volvo Technology of America, Inc., is set to receive $19m (£11.5m) in federal funding under a SuperTruck contract established with the U.S. Department of Energy to be used by the Volvo Group’s North American truck-related operations in order to improve the freight-moving efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and reduce greenhouse gases.
A team of highly skilled engineers and researchers in Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as Hagerstown, Maryland, will spend the next five years developing high-efficiency heavy-duty truck technologies with a goal of moving more freight with less fuel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Improved energy conversion efficiency and truck aerodynamics are two areas that hold great promise for Class 8 efficiency gains. In order to achieve the SuperTruck program goals, Volvo will draw on extensive experience and established leadership as well as in energy efficiency and reducing heavy-duty truck and engine diesel use.
The company’s North American truck and powertrain operations have also been engaging in other DOE-funded heavy vehicle fuel efficiency efforts. Being an integrated manufacturer enhances the efficacy of product development and enables Volvo to optimize solutions throughout its product platforms.
In North America, the operations and the products of Volvo Trucks are guided by the three principal values of Environmental Care, Safety, and most of all, Quality. While its VN and VHD trucks are all assembled at its New River Valley Plant located in Dublin, Virginia, all the engines are manufactured at its plant in Hagerstown, Maryland. These two plants though carry the ISO14001 environmental certification, and even the ISO9001 certification for quality.
According to Volvo Powertrain president, and Volvo Group senior vice president of technology Peter Karlsten shared that the company is thankful for being recognized by the Department of Energy as the leader in global technology. The partnership between Powertrain and Volvo Trucks has made the development of these technologies possible, he added. These technologies have managed to maximize the energy efficiency as the company continues to address the fact that when it comes to petroleum-based resources, there is a finite supply.
Both Trucks and Powertrain, Karlsten continued, remain dedicated to getting the needed internal resources in order to lead the Class 8 market in fuel efficiency. The company, he continued, is now able to look into improving technologies aimed at fuel efficiency earlier than expected at its product development cycle. The company has even started looking into innovative technologies that would typically not be feasible economically, Karlsten said.
Volvo Trucks senior vice president of sales and marketing Ron Huibers on the other hand related that they are happy to be given the SuperTruck awards which encourages their strong relationship in relation to the U.S. Department of Energy. Freight transportation is not only important in the daily lives of people but in the strength as a country, he continued. It is therefore important to increase efforts in order to make the best, if not the most efficient, solutions possible for heavy-duty trucks, Huibers added.
As the company expands on its lead in technology, entering into this public-private partnership is but the first step, he said further. Volvo has long valued quality with safety plus environmental care, as mentioned earlier. In addition, its facility in New River Valley is where Volvo trucks are first assembled and then sold in the North American market. As a result of a determined energy program started in 2008, electricity consumption at the plant was lowered by 28%, water use reduced by as much as 70%, and consumption of natural gas decreased by 25%.
Operations at Volvo Powertrain and Volvo Trucks have the EPA 2010 solution which utilizes Diesel Particulate Filter and the Selective Catalytic Reduction technology. With these, Volvo is able to reduce both particulate matter, like soot, and nitrogen oxides to almost zero levels. This method also ensures that fuel efficiency is enhanced while greenhouse gas emissions are lowered. Improvements done for the SuperTruck in terms of fuel efficiency and transport will be made by partnering with suppliers and university partners.