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Volvo offers sneak peek at Class 8 electric truck

Posted: September 13, 2019 by Jack Roberts

DUBLIN, Va. — Volvo is a company committed to safety, efficiency and the environment, according to Magnus Koeck, vice president, brand marketing for Volvo Trucks North America. And he followed up his claim with a host of new technologies, products and upgrades to existing vehicle systems that will begin appearing on Volvo Class 8 trucks beginning next year.
But the surprise of the day was the unveiling of a brand-new electric truck. And if you were expecting the medium-duty FE Electric model Volvo showcased last year (and is now undergoing evaluations on the West Coast) then you were in for a surprise: The company unveiled a new, Class 8 electric version of its VNR regional haul tractor that Koeck said will go into serial production some time in 2020.Details on the truck were sparse, however the truck has a conventional Volvo I-Shift automated transmission optimized for electric powertrains, large battery packs mounted on the frame rail ahead of the drive tires.
“The Volvo VNR is ideal for applications like heavy urban distribution, drayage and other regional applications where electric trucks will first have the greatest impact,” said Johan Agebrand, director of product marketing, Volvo Trucks North America. “The VNR series has received tremendous industry acceptance since its April 2017 introduction and the addition of an all-electric powertrain provides even greater opportunities to expand its footprint in the regional-haul market.”
Introduction of the Volvo VNR Electric models are part of another Volvo partnership announced today known as Lights, or Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions. This partnership between the Volvo Group, California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), and industry leaders in transportation and electrical charging infrastructure will begin next February.
“The Lights project is a truly unique opportunity to showcase a holistic approach to electrification of the freight transport industry as we handle ongoing challenges including electricity generation and battery optimization,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, Volvo Trucks North America. “We appreciate that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the SCAQMD have recognized our leadership and trusted us to oversee this project that will ultimately result in the commercialization of fully-electric heavy-duty trucks. In addition to introducing the VNR Electric, through Lights we will bring a complete sustainable freight solution with end-to-end electrification coordination with our many partners.”

Volvo Doubles Down on Turbo-Compounding

Volvo led off its list of new Class 8 technologies and products today with the second-generation of its turbo compound diesel engine system, which Koeck said provides up to an additional 3% improvement in fuel efficiency over the current 13-liter turbo compound engine, the D13TC.

The new engine delivers up to 11% fuel savings overall compared to model-year 2015 trucks. Other improvements include enhanced efficiency over a wider range of applications, more engine ratings and a new EE ​Extra Efficiency​ drive mode. The new D13TC will be available for order in the fourth quarter of 2019 and go into production at the end of the first quarter of 2020.

“We developed our first generation of the Turbo Compound engine in 2017, and since then almost 300 million miles have been logged, validating the up to 8% fuel-savings benefits,” said John Moore, product marketing manager at Volvo Trucks North America. “This new D13TC builds upon this game-changing engine technology, further increasing fuel efficiency by up to 3% over the current D13TC engine, saving approximately $1,200 per year per truck, based on the average fuel price and 125,000 miles per year.”

The new D13TC offers three individual drive modes, Dynamic Torque, an additional 405 horsepower rating, and the next evolution of the Volvo Trucks’ patented wave piston design. These updates enable further-increased fuel efficiency over a wider range of loads, vehicle speeds and engine RPMs. Volvo said this offers a broader use of applications compared to the first generation of the D13TC engine, which was designed specifically for over-the-road, long-haul applications for trucks loaded at 80,000 pounds.

The three individual drive modes available with the new D13TC engine are Extra Efficiency, Economy, and Performance. These modes will allow the driver to better optimize fuel efficiency for the vehicle with desired performance, depending on application, topography and driving conditions, Volvo engineers said. This new engine also features a wider RPM efficiency band, which enables top fuel efficiency for longer periods of time.

Dynamic Torque is an incremental torque system designed to provide the right torque at the right time. Rather than operating in silos of high-torque and low-torque modes, Dynamic Torque automatically sets a torque level dependent upon the weight of the truck, the grade and the road conditions at any given time. Dynamic Torque also features an automatic 12th gear lockout on heavy loads with Adaptive Gearing engine ratings. A kick-down switch along with performance drive mode allows access to full torque for customers requiring it on demand. This simpler, more effective system on the new D13TC engine will provide an even more consistent improvement in

fuel efficiency across different applications, enabling customers to cut costs on a wider range of operations.

The new engine also features a revised wave piston, designed and patented by Volvo Trucks. The improved design​ ​optimizes wave technology to evenly distribute the air/fuel mixture in the cylinder, burning the fuel more consistently than a traditional piston. Volvo’s design increases the compression ratio from 17:1 to 18:1 while maintaining up to a 90% reduction of soot in the cylinder, further improving fuel efficiency in the engine.

“The individual drive modes allow drivers new heights in fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance. We are also taking it to the next level with a simpler torque package that delivers the right torque at the right time,” said Moore. “Not only is it cutting edge when it comes to sustainable use of diesel in the transportation industry, but it is the most fuel efficient Volvo engine on the market for our customers, with trucks running cleaner at a reduced cost.”

Volvo Upgrades Advanced Driver Assist Safety System

Volvo also announced at its Technology Summit that its Active Driver Assist (VADA) 2.0 comprehensive collision mitigation system, will be made standard on new Volvo VNR and VNL models, and available on VNX models, beginning later this year.

The system enhances the original VADA platform by integrating radar and camera capabilities to help drivers maintain a safe following distance through alerts and improved traffic awareness, as well as emergency braking to reduce the risk of collisions.

“The ​Volvo Active Driver Assist​ technology we first introduced with Bendix Wingman Fusion in 2017 was a groundbreaking achievement for increased efficiency and safety through automation,” said Johan Agebrand, product marketing director, Volvo Trucks North America. “Continuing that partnership, we have improved the capabilities of this collision mitigation technology across the board and are confident that VADA 2.0 will further enhance safety for all motorists.”

VADA is a comprehensive collision mitigation system launched by Volvo Trucks North America in 2017 which uses camera and radar sensors to detect motorized vehicles within the vehicle’s proximity. The technology enables a series of features to activate driver alerts and foundation braking according to information detected by these advanced sensors.

Available in in the third quarter of 2019, with improvements scheduled to roll out through late 2020, VADA 2.0 offers enhancements to many features including:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) ​uses camera and radar sensors to determine how traffic is behaving around the truck. When a vehicle is detected, audible and visual warnings alert the driver to take action. If the driver does not respond, AEB engages to mitigate potential collisions. VADA 2.0 expands the capability of AEB beyond the current VADA, allowing it to operate across multiple lanes of traffic.
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) ​alerts the driver when an unintentional lane departure occurs. VADA 2.0 allows for adjustable volume and audio mute override options and enables drivers to turn off the system momentarily (10 minutes) for select functions.
  • Highway Departure Warning and Braking (HDB) ​automatically activates if the driver does not take corrective action after a Lane Departure Warning and the system detects that the vehicle may leave the drivable roadway, slowing the vehicle by a pre-defined MPH.
  •  Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Cruise Auto Resume ​enables the truck to revert back to cruising speed with Cruise Auto Resume (also known as “Slow & Go”) at speeds above 10 mph, an improved feature in VADA 2.0.
  •  Driver Awareness Support ​offers an in-cab windshield-mounted camera with data capture support to enhance driver coaching and data availability

“We are excited to introduce Volvo Active Driver Assist 2.0 as standard in our truck models, representing the next generation of active safety products,” said Ashraf Makki, product marketing manager – technology, Volvo Trucks North America. “Every feature included in this new technology enables our products to run more efficiently, and offers additional safety benefits for our customers and professional drivers.”

Future updates to VADA 2.0 will include Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Stop & Driver Go, Lane Change Support with audible alert adjustment, and standalone data capture options without the need for Lane Departure Warning.

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