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Volvo launches new fuel mileage program

DALLAS, Texas -- Volvo has launched a new fuel economy program, which takes a four-pronged approach to maximizing f...

DALLAS, Texas — Volvo has launched a new fuel economy program, which takes a four-pronged approach to maximizing fuel efficiency.

Fuelwatch focuses on: vehicle spec’ing; maintenance; performance monitoring; and driver training in an effort to help fleets optimize the fuel-efficiency of their equipment. While the company has always assisted customers in properly spec’ing and maintaining their trucks, the Fuelwatch program goes a step further and will also address driver behaviour. Beginning in early 2009, Volvo will have driver-trainers available to educate fleets and their drivers on how to maximize fuel mileage through fuel-fficient driving techniques.

The program is being targeted towards small- and mid-sized fleets, which may not have the resources to assign a staff member to driver training.

“Our customers are telling us ‘I want Volvo to give me the most fuel-efficient truck possible. We need every bit of help we can get’ to survive the escalation in diesel prices,” Scott Kress, senior vice-president of sales and marketing, said at the Great American Trucking Show. “But we realized we can give them far more than the truck. Fuelwatch is our way to bring Volvo’s deep knowledge of fuel economy to customers in a way that delivers these benefits throughout the entire life and operation of their trucks.”

The four elements of Fuelwatch include:

Proper spec’ing: Volvo dealers will work with customers using the company’s Predictor software tool to select the most fuel-efficient spec’s for the job. Factors such as terrain, desired cruise speed, loads and applications will all be taken into consideration, the company says.

Maintenance: Once the truck’s on the road, Fuelwatch will help customers keep up with scheduled preventive maintenance. The company says improper wheel alignment and neglected fuel and cooling systems can each reduce a truck’s fuel efficiency by up to 3%. Volvo also says air system losses can account for another 4% reduction in fuel mileage. Fuelwatch will also involve reprogramming the engine power ratings to match changes in application.

Monitoring performance: Volvo Link and Sentry will provide fleet managers with information that allows them to monitor and measure their results, according to the company. Eventually, logged vehicle data (LVD) will allow a fleet manager to compare the performance of his trucks against an industry-wide benchmark which draws on the data of the entire population of similarly-spec’d trucks.

Driver development: It’s been said that the driver can swing fuel economy up to 30% in either direction. Volvo says its driver-trainers will provide hands-on training sessions beginning next year. The company also offers tips through its in-dash display, which uses icons that advise a driver to adjust his behaviour when required.

“We think the days of inexpensive fuel are over, and the trucking industry must adapt to this new reality,” Kress said. “Fuelwatch is not a switch that fleets can throw or a part they can bolt on a truck. This is a partnership between Volvo, our customers and our dealers involving a comprehensive approach to improving fuel economy tailored to the individual customer.”

Volvo officials at the Great American Trucking Show said there’d be a charge for the driver training component of the program.

“It’s a nominal fee and one that will pay back many, many times,” said Kress.

Owner/operators can also take advantage of the training, however it will only be offered to groups, the company said.

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