Continued progress in hybrid technology

Hybrid technology is one of the most promising and competitive technologies for commercial vehicles. The Volvo Group is a leading player in hybrid technology for heavy-duty vehicles, with a unique solution that offers considerable fuel savings while reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Environmental and cost benefits

The Volvo Group is well positioned with a unique solution for hybrid technology for heavy-duty vehicles. Hybrid technology is best suited to urban operations since the most appropriate vehicles for hybrid drivelines are those operating in continuous stop-go conditions, such as city buses and refuse or distribution trucks.

Fuel accounts for approximately one third of the costs of a truck in Europe. The potential for fuel savings means lower operating costs for our customers while also significantly reducing the environmental impact.

We have tested various types of hybrid solutions since the 1980s and unveiled the first commercially viable hybrid solution for heavy-duty vehicles in 2006. The solution is based on a unique Volvo Group concept known as I-SAM (Integrated Starter Alternator Motor).

Because of its fuel saving potential, hybrid technology means lower operating costs for customers while at the same time significantly reducing environmental impact.

Hybrid solution with proven track record

The Volvo Group's I-SAM concept consists of an electric motor and a diesel engine working in parallel, whereby each of them can be used where they are most effective. This increases the capacity compared with series hybrids, while simultaneously reducing fuel consumption and improving driving characteristics.

The solution can be used for different Volvo Group products and applications, thus reducing production costs and facilitating large-scale manufacturing. We have been demonstrating vehicles based on our hybrid solution, including:

  • city buses
  • refuse collection trucks and distribution trucks
  • wheel loaders.

World leader in hybrid buses

In recent years, the bus industry has moved towards more efficient transport solutions with lower energy consumption and a reduction of regulated emissions.

Serial production of the Volvo Hybrid city bus and the Volvo Hybrid double-decker started in 2010. Significant fuel savings of up to 37% make this bus a commercially viable option compared with many other hybrid technologies.

The technology functions equally well when there is greater distance between bus stops, not just in highly congested traffic situations. The diesel engine does not start until the bus reaches 15–20 km/hour, which ensures a quiet and exhaust-free environment at bus stops. In addition, passenger capacity has increased compared with the standard diesel bus.

Significant fuel savings of up to 37% make the Volvo Hybrid city bus a commercially viable option compared with many other hybrid technologies.

In 2011, Volvo Buses received its largest hybrid bus order to date, when the city of Curitiba in Brazil ordered 60 buses. A total of approximately 400 hybrid city buses have been sold to customers.

Next step in electrification

Volvo Buses has also taken the next step in electrification by commencing the development of a plug-in hybrid bus, based essentially on the same technology.

The plug-in hybrid, however, has a new type of battery and charging equipment that will make it possible to charge the battery via the electricity network. Simulations have showed a potential in decreasing energy consumption by up to 65% compared with today’s diesel buses. Field tests are expected to commence in 2012.

Commercial hybrid trucks

In 2011, Volvo Trucks commenced sales of heavy hybrid trucks, under the name Volvo FE Hybrid, to customers in selected European markets. The hybrid trucks permit fuel savings of up to 30%.

Joint company for new energy driveline systems

In China there is a huge interest for alternative drivelines and fuels. During World Expo in Shanghai 2010, Sunwin Bus delivered new energy-efficient buses including a number of electric buses.

In 2011, Volvo Buses and the Chinese company SAIC Motors agreed to form a new joint-venture company for the development of driveline systems for electric and hybrid drive. The company will conduct research and development, assemble new driveline systems and complete vehicle matching, prototype manufacturing and test new energy driveline systems. The new company will be based in Shanghai, China, and operated by Sunwin Bus.

Serial production of Renault’s hybrid

During the year, Renault Trucks delivered its first Renault Premium Hybrys-Tech truck assembled in serial production to important logistics companies. In 2007, Renault Trucks introduced the Hybris, an innovative urban concept vehicle powered by parallel hybrid technology (i.e. an internal combustion engine and an electric motor drive the wheels in different distribution configurations). The technology has the potential to cut fuel consumption and reduce CO2 emissions from the truck by up to 30%.

Renault Maxity Electric: a fully electric truck

Renault Trucks has developed a fully electric truck offering, in partnership with electric commercial vehicle manufacturer PVI. This vehicle emits no particulate matters, nitrogen oxides or carbon dioxides when operating on electricity. It emits very low noise levels. Renault Maxity Electric can therefore be operated at night and in restricted low-emission zones.

After successful tests under actual operating conditions, Renault Trucks made its Renault Maxity Electric available for long-term rental on the French market. A dozen of units are being operated since. In 2011, Swedavia, Sweden’s largest airport operator, also tried the Maxity Electric, using it to collect small, recyclable items of waste at the Gothenburg Landvetter Airport. The vehicle was also tested by Renova, a company specialized in waste collection, processing and recycling.

World’s largest electric truck tests for Carrefour

The fully electric Renault Midlum, a larger truck than Renault Maxity, was developed in close technological collaboration between Renault Trucks, PVI and IFP Energies Nouvelles. The truck is to be tested by logistics company STEF-TFE in 2012 supplying fresh products to Carrefour Group store chains in the Lyon metropolitan area.

The 16 ton vehicle is the largest electric-powered truck to be put on the road for delivering food products in an urban environment. This distribution truck can carry 5.5 tons of goods, has an operating range of 100 km and can be fully recharged in only eight hours. This truck does not emit any PM, NOx or CO2 and noise levels are low during operations using electric-power.

Low noise emissions

Noise is a growing problem in urban areas. Vehicles equipped with hybrid technology are almost silent when operating on the electric engine.

There are different regulations around the world for noise for the transport sector. The EU and South Korea have among the strictest noise level regulations: 80 decibels for heavy-duty vehicles. Other countries are gradually approaching the same level. The Volvo Group's products meet these regulations.

Noise emission requirements for heavy-duty vehicles

Did you know?

In 2011, Volvo Buses received its largest hybrid bus order to date, when the city of Curitiba in Brazil ordered 60 buses.