POWERTRAIN enhancements and advanced aerodynamics are helping deliver an 8% fuel efficiency improvement for Volvo's VN highway-series tractors. Additional gains are possible through the use of new fleet management and driver development tools.

The company also introduced new interior features designed to increase comfort and productivity, giving customers additional tools for reducing costs and attracting and retaining drivers. The announcements were made at the 2011 Mid-America Trucking Show March 31 to April 2 in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Volvo Trucks continues to aggressively target areas to help lower our customers' operating costs,” said Ron Huibers, Volvo Trucks senior vice-president, sales and marketing. “Labor and fuel are the top expenses across the industry, and the situation doesn't appear to be changing. Analysts predict a large driver shortage and diesel prices could rise above $4 a gallon, but we're confident our product enhancements will help fleets attract and retain drivers and further our position as fuel-efficiency leaders.”

Building on the already strong fuel efficiency delivered by Volvo Trucks' EPA 2010 solution with selective catalytic reduction technology, Volvo introduced a new 455 horsepower and 1,550/1,750 lb-ft torque rating for the Volvo D13 engine. The new rating complements Volvo Trucks' existing Eco-Torque and Dual-Torque ratings of 405, 425, 475, and 500 horsepower, designed to maximize fuel economy by providing a driver-intuitive, easy-to-use algorithm that rewards fuel-efficient driving and encourages low-rpm engine operation.

“Eco-Torque and Dual Torque ratings take advantage of high-torque-rise engine curves and take effect in the top two gears, where drivers in line-haul operations spend as much as 95% of their driving time,” said Ed Saxman, Volvo Trucks' drivetrain product manager. “On-demand engine torque will increase by 200 lb-ft - even 300 lb-ft in the case of the 425 hp engine to allow the vehicle to remain in top gear on most grades. Eco-Torque ratings allow full performance and fuel economy in the remaining gears, while Dual-Torque ratings are available to allow lower-rated transmissions to be used.”

Volvo Trucks also offers the Eco-Torque ratings on both its D11 and D16 engines.

Customers also can achieve fuel savings through Volvo's new Mass Based Variable Torque software that senses the gross combination weight of the truck and adjusts engine torque when the truck is lightly loaded. The software's adjustments improve overall fuel efficiency while still delivering excellent performance under all conditions.

New exterior components in the Fuel Enhancement package offered on 2011 Volvo VN model trucks include redesigned mirror heads with aerodynamic shrouds and arms, redesigned hood mirrors that also increase visibility, new bumper and side fairings, and a newly designed bug deflector that reduces fuel efficiency degradation compared to aftermarket devices. Volvo Trucks' VN daycab models offer a more aerodynamic roof fairing and sun visor.

“The Fuel Enhancement package allows customers to optimize airflow around the cab, eliminating turbulence during the transfer of air to the trailer and improving fuel efficiency,” said Frank Bio, Volvo Trucks product manager.

Driver performance is a significant component of the fuel efficiency equation, so Volvo Trucks is also offering a new fuel management tool through Volvo Link that provides weekly reports with driver and vehicle data. The fuel management tool also allows fleets to compare their results against similar fleets so they can benchmark their performance. Volvo rolled out an online driver development program — www.edrivertraining.com — focused on equipping drivers with technical knowledge about their Volvo truck, information about Volvo's active safety features, and techniques for maximizing fuel efficiency performance.

Also new for 2011 are three redesigned interior options and ten new seat coverings, aimed at increasing comfort and productivity — and attracting and retaining drivers.  ♦

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