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Volvo Trucks’ new concept truck cuts fuel consumption by more than 30%

With support from the Swedish Energy Agency, Volvo Trucks has developed a new concept vehicle, the Volvo Concept Truck. The result of a five-year long research project aimed at creating more energy-efficient vehicles, the new concept truck cuts fuel consumption by more than 30%. The aim of the project is to improve the efficiency for long-haul truck transportation by 50%.

One of the key factors behind the low fuel consumption is the massive 40% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency that has benefited both the tractor and trailer. Aerodynamically optimized chassis side-skirts cover the rear wheels on the tractor and all the trailer wheels; aerodynamic spoilers extend the trailer and cut air resistance.

We’ve modified the entire rig and optimized it for improved aerodynamics as much as possible. For instance, we use cameras instead of rear-view mirrors. This cuts air resistance, so less energy is needed to propel the truck.

— Åke Othzen, Chief Project Manager at Volvo Trucks

In addition to the aerodynamic improvements, the concept vehicle is fitted with newly developed tires with lower rolling resistance. The trailer weighs two tonnes less than the reference trailer, which translates into either lower fuel consumption or the possibility of higher payload. The project also includes an improved driveline. The rig was test driven on Swedish roads in autumn 2015.

Since the concept vehicle is part of a research project it will not be available on the market. However, some of its aerodynamic features have already been implemented on Volvo Trucks' series-produced vehicles, and more of its solutions may be fitted in the future.

The research project is a bilateral joint venture between Sweden and the US involving support from the Swedish Energy Agency and the US Department of Energy. The US SuperTruck project aims to increase transport efficiency for long-haul operations on the North American market.



This has been known for many years that improving the aerodynamic of large highway trucks and buses could reduce energy consumption by 30% to 40%.

Improving train trains, tires and going hybrid and/or with FCs or batteries could supply another 30% to 50%.

Too bad that those heavies have been left out of CAFE for too long.


Are we talking about saving 30% compared to a current state-of-the-art tractor trailer, or compared to something we haven't seen in 10 years?

Volvo says that "some of its aerodynamic features have already been implemented," which tells me that the 30% improvement is compared to a rig with no side skirts, no radial tires, etc. In other words, it's 30% better than something no major operator uses on the highway anymore.


Recent surveys have established that the current heavy trucks and large buses fleets, with brick like noses, are very high fuel consumers.

1) Heavy trucks average = 39.5L/100 Km (about 6 mpg)
2) Intercity large buses average = 5 to 6.5 mpg

With their very poor aerodynamics, their fuel consumption go up rapidly as speed is increased.

A reduction of 30+% in fuel consumption is a strong possibility with improved aerodynamics and drive trains.

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