Volvo

A Viable Alternative Option

A Viable Alternative Option

With the launch of the Volvo heavy duty electric truck range late in 2023, the Australasian transport industry can see a viable alternative option on a model which is already one of the top selling trucks.

The Volvo heavy duty range has been effective and grown in Australasian markets, now the company is offering a zero carbon emissions alternative to the current diesel range.

Two members of the ToYA jury got a chance to test drive a Volvo FH Electric at the end of 2023. This is a fully electric truck and one which will effectively change the emissions effect of the freight task, but it is an interim technology. This is not going to be the final product which Volvo will be offering to the market in the long-term as a zero carbon emissions alternative.

Image: Prime Creative Media

This first iteration of the Volvo heavy duty electric truck is a relatively small change compared to those which may come along down the track. Simply put, the Volvo engineers have looked at the current diesel Volvo FH, and removed the engine and associated accessories, then replaced them with all of the equipment required to create an electric driveline.

Those designers were looking at the large space underneath the cabin where the current engine sits and the outside of the chassis between the front wheels and the rear wheels which is normally home for the diesel tanks and emission control systems.

The electric driveline system needed to be designed so that it fitted into the same cubic space. The resulting design is quite a simple solution. In the engine space is placed all of the control systems, electric power elements, a cooling system, plus three electric motors in a triangular pattern which provide the motive power to drive the transmission.

Image: Prime Creative Media

The designers decided to go with the I-Shift transmission which is currently coupled to the diesel engine. Most of the ratios in this 12-speed AMT will not be needed by this electric truck, but keeping the resilient box, gets the electric truck on the road and working effectively ASAP.

The designers are using a tried and true, trusted transmission, and the only development work needed to be done, was to reprogram the software to transmit the power coming from the electric motors to the rear wheels in a way which uses the performance parameters of the electric motor. The strength of the electric motor is the fact that it provides maximum torque all the way through the rev range.

The I-Shift transmission is imperceptible, it spends a lot of time skip shifting between a few of its 12 gears. It has been programmed to handle the electric driveline with ease. The default setting is for the truck to set off in seventh gear, most of the time.

This is a decision made by the I-Shift after gauging parameters like the data from the inclinometer in the transmission as to whether it is taking of on a slope or flat ground. It also knows how heavy the truck is with data from the air suspension. If it suspects there’s a lot of pudding on board it will drop down into bottom box to take off.

 

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