The Volvo Group's engineers have created a method for constructing trucks that weigh less while carrying the same loads, which would result in a significant reduction in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
To date, lightweight technology has mainly been used in Volvo Aero's aircraft engine components, but engineers at AB Volvo's research company, Volvo Technology, foresee favorable opportunities in using similar technology to reduce the weight of the cab and chassis in heavy trucks by at least 20% within 10 years.
“We are creating the super-light vehicle in a computer program that simulates how hundreds of thousands of small construction alterations can reduce the vehicle's total weight without affecting other key characteristics in the vehicle, such as crashworthiness or the ability to bear loads,” said Carl Fredrik Hartung, project manager at Volvo Technology.
A lighter vehicle, regardless of whether it is a truck or a bus, can be powered by a smaller engine. If the lighter vehicle is equipped with an engine powered by renewable fuel, or hybrid systems in which the diesel engine is jointly powered with an electric motor, then fuel consumption and carbon emissions can be further reduced.
One of the challenges is that a super-light vehicle must be constructed partly with more expensive materials that are highly durable, which means the vehicle must be manufactured in volumes sufficiently large to keep the cost down.