With fuel prices on the rise, car owners are looking for ways to ease the pressure on their wallets. One answer provided by automakers, notably Toyota and Honda, is hybrid vehicles that use an electric motor to drive their car along with whatever engine they are equipped with. These cars have made great progress in terms of sales, focusing on the budget conscious public. Fuel economy is significantly increased while still delivering great performance. Cars like the Toyota Prius, which is the first series-produced hybrid car, are also environmentally friendly due to their lower emission levels.
Not only people are looking for ways to reduce their fuel consumption, but also large companies that need trucks to transport their goods. One of them is Wal-Mart, which recently announced that they are doing an investigation into the possible use of hybrid technology in their fleet of trucks. Companies can significantly increase their profits if they can significantly reduce their fuel consumption. 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 support its diesel engine, and that is precisely what Volvo has recently developed.
Joining forces with the US Air Force, Volvo has developed a hybrid truck technology using its I-SAM or integrated starter alternator motor technology. The technology uses the starter alternator that works like an electric motor that will help a truck’s diesel engine power the car, increasing fuel economy by up to 35 percent. Fuel efficiency is, of course, the same as that of hybrid cars. It actually depends on the application and driving conditions. However, the hybrid truck has reduced fuel consumption compared to natural diesel engine trucks. The Volvo Group will begin production of four of these hybrid-powered trucks this year for the US Air Force.
Actual mass production of such trucks for civil use will follow after field tests to assess their actual capacity under different road and weather conditions. Scheduled for 2008 to 2009, the company aims to produce 300,000 units for the standby market. Much anticipation can be expected from potential buyers for the launch of technology that will greatly help protect the environment. Not only will these trucks have lower emissions than natural trucks, but their fuel efficiency will cost less in depleting available fossil fuel reserves.
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. Not only does this decrease fuel consumption, it also adds power to the truck. The Volvo hybrid truck’s electric motor can produce a maximum of 160 horsepower and is powered by an electronic box, an energy storage box and a powertrain control unit.
The truck will also have high-performance parts in all of its systems, from the steering to the suspension, with high-quality Volvo shock absorbers, to the exhaust system that will further lower emissions from the truck’s engine. Attention will also be paid to driver comfort, in addition to the safety features for which Volvo is known.