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Volvo Puts Two Hybrid Refuse Trucks Into Final Trials; Production May Begin in 2009

The Volvo FE Hybrid refuse truck.

Volvo has launched two hybrid refuse trucks into trials in regular daily operations in Sweden with refuse collection firms Renova and Ragn-Sells. (Earlier post.) Although both trucks use a charge-sustaining hybrid system for motive power, one of the trucks is equipped with a second, grid-charged battery that powers the refuse compactor.

The hybrid system used in the refuse truck is a version of Volvo’s I-SAM (Integrated Starter, Alternator, Motor) parallel hybrid system. The I-SAM system comprises a starter motor, drive motor and alternator fit between the clutch and the I-Shift automatic transmission.

This test phase is the last stage in the evaluation of our hybrid solution ahead of production launch. Since we presented our first concept vehicle in 2006, we have seen considerably heightened market interest in this technology. What makes our solution unique is that it is sufficiently powerful to drive heavy vehicles and more cost-effective than all other current alternatives. It is these characteristics that determine whether a hybrid can be commercially viable. We will start producing hybrid trucks in 2009.

—Staffan Jufors, president and CEO of the Volvo Truck Corporation
The basic I-SAM hybrid system. Click to enlarge.

The Volvo FE hybrid refuse trucks combine a 7-liter (320 hp / 238 kW) diesel with a 120 kW motor. The trucks use Lithium-ion battery packs.

The hybrid system supports all-electric drive for moving off from standstill and for acceleration up to 20 kph (12 mph). At higher speeds, the diesel engine is activated. When the truck stops, the diesel engine automatically switches off, avoiding unnecessary idling. The batteries are recharged via regenerative braking.

The hybrid refuse trucks are expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20% and thus cut carbon dioxide emissions by a corresponding amount. The truck with the extra battery pack for the refuse compactor is expected to produce reductions of up to 30%.

Although Volvo is initially targeting its hybrid technology for vehicles in urban operations, it aims to eventually offer hybrid trucks for long-haul and construction applications.

Hybrid technology will play a major role in the future as the climate issue and oil dependency come into ever-sharper focus. No matter which fuels dominate in the future, their supply will be limited. Technology that leads to lower fuel consumption will be of immense interest to our customers, irrespective of the type of haulage operation with which they work. For distribution trucks, fuel consumption may be able to be cut by 20 to 30 percent. In long-haul operations, the percentage reduction will not be as great but since these trucks cover long distances, the total fuel saving will nonetheless be considerable.

—Mats Franzén, engine manager at Product Strategy and Planning at Volvo Trucks



Enova wins again!!!!!!!!!


Why did they not do it as a serial hybrid as in the EcoSaver IV series hybrid bus? The used configuration saves only up to 30% in fuel compared to a conventional diesel refuse truck and the series hybrid could possible save up to 50% as shown by the EcoSaver IV series hybrid bus. See I know, the driving cycle of a refuse truck may not be identical to that of a city bus so that the comparison is not perfect. However, they should be close enough for rough comparison and the saving of the city bus could have been even higher had they used a diesel ICE genset instead of the less efficient turbine see comments in thread.

I almost suspect some engineers choose inferior solutions so that they can keep working on large engines instead of the very much scaled down ICE genset needed for serial hybrids such as city buses and refuse trucks. Of cause, such opposition is fruitless and doomed to fail if it can’t compete. If Volvo does not go for serial hybrids in this case somebody else will and they will lose in the market. Plug-in serial hybrids can also be easily upgraded for even better fuel economy by adding more batteries as the price of these batteries drop in the coming years.

Rafael Seidl

Refuse trucks and city buses are the low hanging fruit for HDV hybridization, because of their frequent stops. In theory, ultracaps should be even more efficient in recuperative braking but this solution based on the Effpower bi-polar lead-acid batteries (made in Sweden) was probably cheaper.

Each of the 150V units can support up to 30kW peak power (for 30s). Taking into account the ability to briefly overtorque the electric motor and various losses, I'm guessing they're deploying 6 units at 37.5kg each. Figure ~20% weight overhead for the brackets that hold the batteries and you end up with a guesstimate of 270kg total.

If that is correct, rated capacity (100% DoD) would only be 5.4kWh because of the lead-acid chemistry. However, this specific application calls for a power-centric system layout, so that doesn't really matter.

Rafael Seidl

Sorry, correction. Unlike the hybrid HDV system Volvo presented some time ago, this one for refuse trucks apparently uses Li-ion batteries.


Now, if they would make fuel from the refuse we would really have something.

Dan A


"If Volvo does not go for serial hybrids in this case somebody else will and they will lose in the market."

--That's the beauty of the free market.


a garbage truck stops 10 times in one block, a bus stops once every 10 blocks.. big difference

I also hate to hear the diesel in the garbage trucks winding up in front of my house at 6:00AM.. with electric drive at up to 12mph I would never hear them. Hopefully they will quiet down the compactor as well.


Good point Herm I did not notice that one.

With even more stop and go per mile in a refuse truck than in a city bus my argument for using a serial hybrid instead of a parallel hybrid become even stronger. For instance, it will allow for even more aggressive downsizing of the needed diesel engine in the series hybrid making that configuration less expensive to produce. Another argument is that the series hybrid is more durable than the parallel hybrid and consequent savings in maintenance cost are therefore more important with increased stop and go frequency that increase the fatigue of the vehicle. Finally, it is precisely the inability to operate the diesel engine at peak efficiency all of the time in a stop and go cycle that makes the series hybrid more fuel efficient than the parallel hybrid and this is a third and very important reason that Volvo should really go for serial hybrid and not parallel hybrid in a refuse truck.


Meh, if I was in the market for a hybrid garbage truck (which I'm not) I'd be taking a look at the hydraulic hybrid system used by Peterbilt.


One of the reasons that it is not series hybrid may be the hydraulics. You would have to have a very large traction motor for the wheels and another huge motor for the hydraulics. The engine would be revving most of the time to provide the electricity for both.


This is not the first hybrid vehicle for gargage. They are several years late.. IVECO in Spain made it first.

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