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Volvo centered on fuel economy, driver productivity, safety, officials say

Among its many other revelations at MATS, Volvo showcased its prototype D13-LNG engine, the first integrated natural gas solution for the North American market.

The Trucker Staff

3/22/2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Customers value good drivers behind the wheel, Volvo Trucks officials said here Thursday during the Mid-America Trucking Show, and towards that end their products are geared toward fuel efficiency, driver productivity, safety and uptime.

Noting that Volvo Trucks North America had a good year in 2012 with sales of 249,000 units — besting 2011 sales of 133,000 — Goran Nyberg, president of Volvo North America Sales and Marketing, said the age of tractors bodes well for new truck sales.

Volvo is looking to “build on its strengths,” he said, with the Volvo powertrain having achieved a 79 percent penetration into the market and its I-Shift having achieved a 46 percent penetration.

Having said, that, Nyberg said Volvo is making the I-Shift standard on all its models.

“Introducing I-Shift as standard across our product lineup is an exciting development that reflects our confidence in its performance and the value it provides to our customers and their operations,” Nyberg said. “The Volvo I-Shift is a tremendous tool to help combat rising fuel costs and improve driver productivity and safety. I-Shift is also proven to help attract, train and retain drivers.”

Since its introduction in 2001, Volvo has sold more than 330,000 I-Shifts globally, and the OEM is currently building more than 80 percent of its trucks with the I-Shift around the world.

In 2012, Nyberg noted, nearly 60 percent of Volvo-powered vehicles built also featured an I-Shift. Volvo was the first to offer multiple premium packages with the I-Shift, and the first to introduce innovative technologies like load and grade sensors, skip shifting and Eco-Roll.

The 12-speed Volvo I-Shift is able to downshift and upshift in smaller, optimum steps – averages 28 percent – between gears compared with competitive transmissions, which average 37 percent steps between gears, Volvo officials said, adding that this improves drivability and skip shifting. Integrated sensors identify truck load and road grade to place the truck in the right gear for the conditions for smooth, optimum shifts, extending clutch life and service intervals.

I-Shift also reduces wasted revs and boosts fuel efficiency by up to 1.56 percent when compared to an unproductive driver.

I-Shift is a central component to Volvo’s XE – exceptional efficiency – powertrain package, which further reduces fuel consumption by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed, a concept Volvo calls “downspeeding,” Nyberg said. XE packages downspeed the engine at cruising speeds by 200 rpm or more than traditional spec’s, so trucks spec’d with XE13 cruise at just 1,150 rpm at 65 mph, while the XE16 powertrain package can cruise as low as 1,100 rpm at 65 mph.

Volvo also announced here at the Mid-America Trucking Show that it’s boosting peak torque in the 13-liter D13 engine with the introduction of a 500 horsepower, 1,850 lb.-ft. torque engine rating, well suited for linehaul, heavyhaul and on- and off-highway vocational applications.  “Added torque provides even better gradability in demanding mountainous terrains and improves startability in heavy-haul and off-road vocational applications,” said John Moore, Volvo Trucks powertrain product manager. “Introduction of this new peak torque rating is truly a testament to the robust design of the D13 engine. Today’s 13-liter engines equal the horsepower and torque of larger displacement engines, while providing improved fuel efficiency and significant weight savings.”

Among its many other revelations at MATS, Volvo showcased its prototype D13-LNG engine, the first integrated natural gas solution for the North American market. The Volvo D13-LNG compression-ignition engine utilizes liquefied natural gas (LNG) to deliver increased range and significant fuel efficiency improvements compared with other natural gas-powered offerings.

Customers will also be able to specify a Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission. Volvo showed the prototype LNG solution in a Volvo VNL day cab.

Volvo’s D13-LNG engine is a continuation of its comprehensive Blue Power natural gas strategy for North America, joining previously announced spark-ignited natural gas engine options for the Volvo VNM and VNL model day cabs.

“Volvo remains focused on developing new technologies to meet our customers’ needs,” said Nyberg. “The Volvo D13-LNG offers outstanding power and performance for the long haul while improving fuel efficiency. The D13-LNG will enable our customers to increase their driving range through an integrated Volvo powertrain system that offers seamless communication among components.”

The Volvo 13-liter compression-ignition engine, utilizing a small amount of diesel fuel to ignite the LNG, delivers diesel-like durability and performance in terms of horsepower and torque. The D13-LNG also provides about a 20 percent fuel efficiency improvement compared with spark-ignition natural gas engines and an even greater fuel cost reduction when compared with diesel-powered engines, officials said.

Volvo VNL daycabs powered by the Volvo D13-LNG engine will be available for order during the second half of 2014.

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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JB Hunt