Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Volvo Green Freight Trucks Go On Sale

Gas Diesel Hybrids Now Offered
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – Volvo trucks has announced it has just launched their new Volvo FM MethaneDiesel truck. The new vehicle is powered by a combination of diesel and methane gas which according to Volvo could potentially reduce CO2 emissions from heavy and long-distance freight and logistics operations by a considerable amount.

The new trucks have already undergone field-testing with a number of companies in Sweden and the positive reactions to this has encouraged Volvo to commit to the new fuel, the first major European truck manufacturer to do so.

“The sales start of our methane-diesel model creates new conditions for the gas truck market. By using liquefied gas in an efficient diesel engine, we make it possible to use gas-powered trucks in heavier and longer-distance transport operations, making us the first manufacturer in Europe to do so,” says Claes Nilsson, President Europe Division at Volvo Trucks.

According to Volvo, the use of natural gas fuel results in a 10 percent reduction on CO2 emissions over a conventional diesel engine. However, compared with conventional gas-powered spark-plug engines, Volvo’s gas technology offers 30 to 40 percent higher efficiency, and this in turn cuts fuel consumption by 25 percent. This means that if a Volvo gas-powered truck is run on biogas, emissions of carbon dioxide would be able to be cut by up to 70 percent compared with a conventional diesel engine.

Powered by up to 75% natural gas or biogas the new Volvo’s engine is based on a conventional diesel equipped with a special fuel tank that keeps the gas liquefied and chilled to -140 degrees Celsius, and a catalytic converter. By using liquefied gas, more fuel can be stored in the tanks compared to if the fuel is compressed. This gives the methane-diesel truck a far greater range than that of traditional gas-powered trucks that utilise spark-plug technology. In a truck with a gross weight of 40 tonnes, the fuel tank holds enough gas for a range of up to 500 kilometres in normal driving.

The new Volvo FM MethaneDiesel is offered with a 13-litre engine producing 460 horsepower and 2300 Nm of torque. The fuel consists of up to 75 percent liquefied gas and the rest diesel, but the proportions can vary depending on how the vehicle is used.

In addition, should one fuel run out then the engine simply switches to the alternative, the driver only being made aware of this by lights on his instrument panel.

Though the initial sales of the new truck will be limited to Sweden, the UK and the Netherlands due to those countries more extensive network of natural gas refuelling stations, Volvo firmly believe that the potential savings for hauliers through greater fuel economy and the significantly lower prices of natural gas will soon the new technology much more widely accepted.

“Natural gas is attracting considerable interest in many countries and regions the world over. This interest is being largely driven by environmental considerations as well as by concerns over the secure supply of energy. In the USA and parts of Asia, Europe and South America, gas power is either already in use or decisions have been taken to invest in this power source. Thailand, for instance, is well to the fore with an established infrastructure and good availability,” says Lars Mårtensson, Director Environmental Affairs at Volvo Trucks.

Volvo state that they initially plan for one hundred trucks to be built in 2011, with series production to commence in August.

“If things go as planned, we expect sales to take off in six-to-eight European countries within the next two years, with about 400 Volvo FM MethaneDiesel trucks sold a year. Future sales will naturally depend largely on expansion of liquefied gas filling stations for commercial vehicles,” said Nilsson.