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Aerodynamics are nothing new to us: Volvo

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Volvo Trucks North America has dug into the archives to revive a white paper the company (then ...

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Volvo Trucks North America has dug into the archives to revive a white paper the company (then Volvo White Truck Corp.) published on the importance of aerodynamics some 25 years ago.

Volvo says its aerodynamic conventional truck was the first of its kind, integrating a number of fuel-saving features that are now commonplace. Diesel cost about $1/gallon back in 1983, however, even then the truck maker was discussing the potential fuel savings provided by roof fairings, cab side extenders, fairing extenders and trim tabs.

At the time, Volvo said its aerodynamic improvements would reduce fuel consumption by 2,200 gallons per 100,000 miles. Since those first aero trucks were introduced, Volvo estimates its highway tractors have saved customers about 5.6 billion gallons of diesel, reducing about 62 million tonnes of CO2.

“Our leadership and technical experience over the last 25 years make clear Volvo’s commitment to delivering the highest fuel economy for our customers,” said Scott Kress, senior vice-president, sales and marketing. “Improved fuel economy is a key reason why Volvo will use selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to meet the 2010 emissions regulations, since we expect that SCR will improve fuel economy by up to 3%. We know that better fuel economy delivers success for our customers, reduces US dependence on imported oil and has very significant benefits for the environment.”

Design enhancements on Volvo’s first aero trucks in 1983 included an integrated sleeper and a narrower and lower hood for improved wind resistance. The ‘wedge-shaped’ hood was controversial at the time, but helped displace wind over and around the hood for smoother airflow, the company says. Volvo claims its attention to aerodynamics a quarter century ago helped it more than double its market share in its early years as a player in the North American trucking industry.

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