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Volvo Trucks’ XE13 named top industry innovation in 2011

Ed Saxman, Volvo Trucks product manager, powertrain, with the 2011 TWNA Technical Achievement Award. (Courtesy: VOLVO)

The Trucker News Services

2/23/2012

TAMPA, Fla. — Ballots have been cast and the verdict is in: Volvo Trucks’ XE13 powertrain package was the North American trucking industry’s most significant technical innovation of 2011. The Truck Writers of North America (TWNA) presented Volvo Trucks with the 21st annual TWNA Technical Achievement Award today during an award ceremony at the Technology Maintenance Council’s spring meeting here.

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by the Truck Writers of North America,” said Ron Huibers, president, Volvo Trucks North American sales and marketing. “We truly appreciate their thorough evaluations of our XE13 package, a proprietary solution that provides just a glimpse at the future potential of Volvo Trucks’ integrated powertrain.”

The Technical Achievement Award winner was selected by TWNA committee members Paul Abelson, John Baxter, Tom Berg, Peter Carter, Paul Hartley, James Menzies and Jim Park.

To be eligible for the Technical Achievement Award, a product or service has to clearly exhibit technical innovation, have a wide applicability in the trucking industry, offer significant benefits, and be widely available. While complete vehicles are not eligible, components and systems are.

The review process begins with candidates nominated by the press members of TWNA. Using a point system based on each committee member’s ranking of the candidates, the highest-scoring products are selected as finalists.

The six finalists for 2011 are: The Bendix EverSure spring brake; the Fontaine/Volvo integrated fifth wheel; Goodyear’s G392 SSD/SST DuraSeal wide-base tires; RigDig’s Truck History Reports; Spectra’s Hub Alert; and the Volvo XE13 powertrain package.

First introduced in September 2011, Volvo Trucks’ XE13 powertrain package boosts fuel efficiency by about three percent by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed, a concept Volvo calls “downspeeding.”

“The benefits of “downspeeding” an engine are intuitive – lower engine rpm results in less fuel consumed – but virtually impossible to achieve without a perfectly harmonized powertrain.” said Ed Saxman, Volvo Trucks product manager – powertrain. “The intelligence of the Volvo I-Shift and proprietary software used in the XE13 package has created an incredible paradigm shift, so we now see the transmission controlling the engine.”

Available on Volvo VN series tractors, the XE13 powertrain package includes the following components:

Volvo D13 engine with 425 or 455 horsepower rating and 1750 lb-ft of torque

Volvo I-Shift overdrive transmission with a 0.78:1 ratio

Axle ratios of 2.64 to 2.69

Proprietary software that facilitates seamless communication between Volvo’s integrated powertrain components.

“Volvo’s XE13 powertrain package brings the concept of running slow to a new level,” said James Menzies, TWNA Technical Achievement Award committee chair. “Several members of the committee have had the chance to drive a Volvo VN equipped with the new powertrain package and we were all very impressed with how it performed on the road.”

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The XE13 package consistently operates in the engine’s “sweet spot” – 1050 rpm to 1500 rpm – with customer data indicating up to 70 percent of operation in the most efficient range of 1100 rpm to 1200 rpm. Operating in this range yields about a 1.5 percent fuel efficiency improvement for every 100 rpm of “downspeeding,” so the XE13 package provides about a three percent fuel efficiency gain.

TWNA award committee member John Baxter said the XE13 concept “represents a sea-change in thinking as far as how the drivetrain is to be put together and could also drive a serious shift to automated transmissions in the future. It will certainly help to squeeze more energy out of each gallon of fuel.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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