Göteborg, Sweden – Engineers with Volvo Group are using aircraft engine technology to construct trucks that weigh less but carry the same payload as conventional trucks, for significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and they expect to see heavy trucks so equipped within 10 years.
The lightweight technology has been mainly used in Volvo Aero’s aircraft engine components, but engineers at Volvo Technology foresee favourable opportunities in using similar technology to reduce the weight of the cab and chassis in heavy trucks by at least 20 per cent. Lighter vehicles, including trucks and buses, can use smaller engines, or hybrid solutions using diesel engines jointly powered with electric motors.
“We are creating the super-light vehicle in a computer environment that simulates how hundreds of thousands of small design alterations can reduce the vehicle’s total weight without affecting other key characteristics in the vehicle, such as crashworthiness or the ability to carry loads,” said Carl Fredrik Hartung, project manager at Volvo Technology.
One of the challenges is that a super-light vehicle needs to be manufactured partly with more expensive high-strength materials, which means that the vehicle must be produced in sufficient volumes to keep the cost down. “It is important to conduct thorough computer simulations and standardize the manufacturing process so that it will be profitable to manufacture lighter vehicles for commercial use,” Hartung said. “We have come a long way, but a great deal of work remains before the first super-light vehicles hit the road.”