Volvo set to build truck of future for U. S. Army

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Volvo Trucks North America will team with Lockheed Martin Control Systems and Radian Inc. to build a truck of the future for the U.S. Army.

The Class 8 tractor will be powered by a hybrid electric propulsion system and delivered by December to the Army’s Tank- automotive and Armaments Command.

Two 250-hp electric motors will move the trucks at slow speeds, while 460 hp of diesel power takes over at higher speeds. (The electric motors will be powered by lead acid batteries that are charged by an on-board generator.)

Lockheed Martin’s HybriDrive propulsion system will be married to the driveline and electrical systems of a Volvo VNL tractor.

The system actually combines the diesel power with an electric motor for shift-free acceleration.

“Drivetrain technology is advancing so quickly that we must change the way we think of ‘electric’ power,” said Keith Brandis, vice-president, business. “We expect this truck to demonstrate unprecedented acceleration.

“The theory behind the system suggests that the combination of diesel and electric propulsion could give drivers more power than today’s high-torque, high-horsepower engines,” Brandis continued. “We also expect that the system will reduce operational costs due to the greater fuel efficiency and reduced engine maintenance requirements.”

An additional goal of the project is to investigate methods to make battery technology more practical for use in commercial applications. In the near future, it should be possible to reduce the weight and number of batteries by 50 percent.

But the truck will also incorporate advanced safety systems, such as Eaton Vorad collision warning systems and a lane tracking system.

“Traffic safety is a critical issue for the Army, just as it is for commercial motor carriers,” Brandis said. “Historically, 42 percent of peacetime fatalities suffered by the Army have occurred in convoy accidents. This truck will be a dramatic test to see how we can apply our well-known safety expertise to improve peacetime truck safety.”

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