With the release of the SuperTruck 2, Volvo Trucks North America claims to have made significant progress. This tractor-trailer set out to beat the US Department of Energy’s efficiency challenge of 100% and ended up beating it by a factor of 134%.
SuperTruck 2’s efficiency comes from, you guessed it, its aerodynamic build. The cabin’s wraparound windshield gives it a sleek wedge profile. The SuperTruck 2’s boat-tailed trailer and carefully crafted fairings help it cut through the air with half the drag of its 2009 predecessors, thanks to this design.
Volvo also reduced the vehicle’s weight by employing a composite driveshaft and minimizing the number of axles. The cab is shorter and more lightweight than competitors.
The 48-volt mild hybrid system installed in the SuperTruck 2 is a thoughtful addition that allows drivers to make use of convenience features without having to keep the engine running for extended periods of time. Volvo’s dedication to efficiency is on full display in this seamless integration.
Peter Voorhoeve, President of Volvo Trucks North America, emphasizes that the SuperTruck 2 was rigorously tested under real-world conditions, not just in controlled environments. This method ensures that the truck’s efficiency gains can be put to use in real-world situations, which is essential for a concept vehicle that hopes to have an impact on production vehicles in the future.
Although the SuperTruck 2 is still just a concept at this point, it is already having an impact on Volvo’s actual commercial trucks. Future trucking will be more efficient and environmentally conscious thanks to the research conducted for this project.
Despite the SuperTruck 2’s hybrid nature, an all-electric variant exists in the form of the VNR Electric 62 Day Cab Tractor, which can travel 275 miles on a single charge thanks to its massive 565 kWh battery. With 455 horsepower (339 kW/461 PS) and 5,492 Newton-meters (Nm) of torque, this electric powerhouse is a major milestone in Volvo’s pursuit of environmentally friendly transportation.
Although the work is certainly admirable, it gives the impression that the Volvo engineers were isolated in the factory and never allowed to see the outside world. While 275 miles may seem like a lot for a tractor-trailer, it should be measured against the current market leader, and whether we like it or not, that leader is the Tesla Semi.
Similarly, it’s probably not worth shouting from the rooftops that the SuperTruck 2 is more fuel-efficient than a truck from 2009. Although advancements in the automotive industry have been long overdue (14 years), Volvo, of all the automakers, should aim a little higher.
About Volvo SuperTruck
The Volvo SuperTruck program is part of the DOE’s efforts to advance energy efficiency in the transportation sector. Volvo Group North America participated in the SuperTruck program, focusing on developing advanced technologies and design strategies to improve the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks.
The original SuperTruck program involved several truck manufacturers, including Volvo, and focused on achieving substantial gains in freight efficiency, reducing fuel consumption, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. These projects often resulted in the creation of prototype trucks with innovative features such as improved aerodynamics, lightweight materials, and advanced powertrain technologies.