Volvo introduces new 16-litre engine

by James Menzies

HOGA KUSTEN, Sweden – Volvo Truck Corporation has introduced its most powerful truck engine ever – the 16.1-litre D16C, available in either a 550- or 610-horsepower rating in the company’s latest European truck – the FH16.

But North American customers will have to wait to see when the new engine will be available on this side of the pond. Volvo officials have confirmed the engine will be introduced in North America, but have not yet specified when. Lennart Langervik, program manager, says the D16C is capable of fitting into a VN in its current form but in order to meet EPA emission standards, the engine would first have to be equipped with EGR or another form of emission-reducing technology. Even so, he says EGR can be added to the engine to make it EPA-compliant.

“We have prepared this engine for the future,” says Langervik.

The introduction of the D16C is the result of more than 50,000 engineering hours and 20,000 hours of test-driving. During development, the company drew from the successes of its past engines, the D9 and D12 while “making improvements wherever we could find them,” says Langervik.

Because of its high horsepower and torque output (2,500 Nm or 1,844 ft.lbs. in the 550 and 2,800 Nm or 2,065 ft.lbs. in the 610), Volvo dedicated much attention to considerations such as heat dissipation and noise and vibration reductions.

The result is a completely new engine that shares only one component with Volvo’s previous 16-litre engine, the D16B.

“The only component that the new engine shares with its predecessor is its main bearing screws, while in terms of design concept, all that these two engine generations have in common is their cylinder bore and stroke. Everything else is new,” says Langervik.

The D16C also weighs in at 100kg less than its predecessor, thanks in part to a weight-optimized camshaft. The lower weight comes despite the fact the new engine produces 90 hp more than the D16B. The total dry weight of the D16C is 1,270 kg, making it among the lightest 16-litre heavy-duty truck engines on the market.

In addition to its lighter weight, there are other advantages as well, says Langervik, most notably a smooth, quiet ride in the cab.

“We have worked with a lot of areas to get the noise down,” he says.

Drivers will also notice steady power, even on long uphill grades which are common in Europe – and Canada too, for that matter.

“The driver should feel that the power is always there. When the engine operates within its maximum torque band and the accelerator is floored, 90 per cent of the engine’s torque is delivered within two seconds,” explains Langervik.

“This engine not only has the power to haul heavy loads uphill. It also has the power to brake a heavily loaded rig on downhill gradients – a vital consideration in order to be able to maintain a high average speed without compromising on safety.”

Volvo’s patented engine brake – offering 380 kW (510 hp) of stopping power – is available on the D16C.

Like Volvo’s previous 16-litre engine, the transmission and timing gears are located at the rear of the engine, another way to reduce in-cab noise.

But servicing the transmission doesn’t take longer despite its location at the back of the engine, says Langervik.

“Today, we almost never have to go into the transmission,” he says. “But time to service is pretty much the same…when working (on a transmission) in the front you have to take away the whole cooling package.”

Locating the transmission, timing gears and power take-off (PTO) at the rear of the engine also allows for a more efficient cooling system at the front.

“The larger the engine, the more important this cooling ability. The new D16C can handle truly demanding operations in extremely warm climates without getting hot,” Langervik says, adding it can operate at temperatures of up to 48 C without suffering a loss of horsepower.

Service intervals on the D16C have been extended to 90,000 km, which has resulted in a lower operating cost for the inline, six cylinder engine, Langervik says. It’s also more fuel-efficient than Volvo’s previous 16-litre engine, thanks to an improved combustion process, he adds.

Other features of the new engine include a robust cylinder block with a re-inforcement frame bolted to the block bottom, and a one-piece cylinder head with four valves per cylinder. There’s also a vibration damper on the camshaft to further reduce noise and vibrations.

And a new oil system has been adopted which provides better heat dissipation to the engine oil, according to Langervik.

When the D16C hits the European market in the fall, Langervik is confident it will be the engine of choice.

“I’m totally convinced that this engine is a leader in this segment,” he says.

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