Trucks, Volvo

Zero Carbon Emissions Alternative to the Current Diesel

Zero Carbon Emissions Alternative to the Current Diesel

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.

The first trucks to arrive are aimed at single semitrailer work available to run up to 44 tonnes, with the three electric motors providing 666 hp. Volvo will be making these trucks in the Wacol production plant in Brisbane by 2027. The reality of electric trucks, by that time, will have arrived.

The space reserved for the SCR unit and fuel tanks is where the designers have situated as many batteries as practical. The eternal issue with electric vehicles is range, and the more battery capacity the better.

This FH model has an overall battery capacity of between 450 and 540kWh, depending on whether five or six batteries are fitted. Although plenty of batteries provide range they also also provide a lot of extra mass when compared to the original diesel design. This does create issues for some operations and the option of only five batteries may limit range to a certain extent, but should enable the operator to get better payload capacity

This model is the first cab off the rank, and should be replaced over the next five to nine years with a more mature, layout and design to take Volvo forward into the brave view world of zero carbon emissions trucking. By that time, Volvo will have developed and finalised the e-axle design which the company displayed at the IAA in Hanover Germany in 2022, but which clearly needs further development before being released onto the market

The e-axle will replace the current differential and rear axle with a larger unit, which will include the differential, electric motor and the transmission all in one piece, at the rear end of the truck. This development will free up space further forward in the vehicle for the electric power system, but it will also free up the space between the chassis members which is currently taken by the driveshaft, where it runs from the rear of the transmission to the differential

Freeing up this space gives Volvo a lot more flexibility, in terms of both the amount of batteries and the distribution of weight across the entire prime mover. This may have the effect of reducing some of the mass on the front axle.

Out on the Road

Approaching the truck for this test drive, the vehicle looks very familiar, no different when compared to its diesel predecessor. The giveaway of course is the word electric displayed above the windscreen and a smaller electric badge at the top of grille, on the driver’s side. This message is further amplified by the fact that the registration number for the truck on test is ELEC FH.

Climbing into the driver’s seat feels familiar. We’ve seen all of these all of these controls before in the diesel version, the information screens are also familiar to anybody who has driven the current Volvo models.

The unfamiliarity comes into play when it comes to starting the truck.Turning the key in the ignition activates the display on the dashboard and the truck is ready to go. This can be quite disconcerting to someone brought up with a diesel heritage

Then the process becomes familiar again, select auto on the shift control to the driver’s left, release the electronic handbrake and then press the accelerator. It is at this point that it all becomes very unfamiliar, as there is no discernible noise as the truck takes off, but the landscape starts to move past either side of the truck.

With the vehicle up to cruising speed, the discernible noise depends on the tyres, but also the road surface at higher speeds. The air-con fan can be heard and there can be a little wind noise which you would normally never notice in a diesel engine vehicle, but because of the virtual silence inside the cabin, it is all discernible.

Something else which is very discernible is the amount of torque available to the driver, from the second they press their foot onto the accelerator. The driver can feel the substantial torque, which is available immediately, under their right foot.

 

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