If the answer to the question, ‘do you really want to save fuel?’ is yes, then this is what you need to do. Volvo has thrown all of the methods of saving fuel into one truck and this is what the engineers came up with. Diesel News takes the futuristic looking B-double for a drive.
Everyone running trucks in Australia will tell you they regard saving fuel as very important to them. However, the question needs to be asked, how far are you willing to go to save fuel? Often the answer is all about compromises, about other priorities, like safety and ease of use, protecting the truck from animals on the road, driver acceptance, and the list goes on.
Volvo have put together a truck which does not compromise. The team developing this evaluation truck have refused to compromise on any aspect of the design if it will save fuel. The result is a strange looking, but very slippery B-double set-up, which goes as far down the fuel saving route as anything on the road before it.
Diesel took the truck for a spin, running at 62.5 tonnes GCM from Sydeny to Brisbane, to see how it drives and assess how much fuel it can save. Even with minimal coaching and plenty of mistakes the results proved to be surprising.
The basic design of many trucks is not particularly conducive to saving fuel. The large flat front of the cabover prime mover is hardly ideal, but it is non-negotiable. Length regulations and cargo space dictate the 3.5 metre high front face of the cabover. Rearview mirrors are required by law. Bullbars are a necessity in country areas or at night.
The Volvo answer is to develop the Fuel Super Truck, adapt it with all of the fuel saving designs it can. All of these elements are available today and the truck could be sold as is to a customer to start running on the highway tomorrow. This test truck is designed to see how much fuel can be saved and how many of the adaptations are actually practical in the long term.
“It initially began as a project where our engineers could play with concepts around fuel economy,” says Matt Wood, Volvo Fuel Efficiency Manager. “It gave us a chance to see how far we could push the envelope. This was an idea on paper in November last year. We are not a trailer maker, but we wanted to build a combination, not just a concept. This is an opportunity to build something with some functionality about it.
“If you look at the Supertruck project which has been going on in the United States, we have no idea about what is going on under the bonnet. There’s lots of secret squirrel stuff going on. That stuff will push development around alternative fuels and propulsion in the future, but for us this Australian truck is a way of demonstrating what we can do with what we already have.”
It seems that Australian trucking operators are becoming more aware of the importance of fuel economy and not just paying lip service to the idea. They are looking for genuine fuel saving solutions.
When it comes to improving fuel-efficiency, every small adjustment is capable of saving some fuel, no matter how small the amount is. Looking at the fundamentals, individual component by individual component can create a whole vehicle which is capable of saving a considerable amount of fuel.