GREENSBORO, N.C. – With $4/gallon diesel the new reality for truckers, Volvo is offering some fuel conservation tips to help ease the pain at the pump.
“Volvo engines are extremely fuel efficient to begin with and their performance is integrated with the leading aerodynamic design of Volvo’s trucks,” says Ed Saxman, Volvo marketing product manager, drivetrain. “But once the truck is delivered to the customer, maximum fuel economy depends on making sure the engine parameters are correctly set for operating conditions, the truck is correctly maintained and it is driven in the most efficient manner.”
Volvo suggests activating the engine’s speed limiter to a lower speed to increase fuel mileage. Slowing from 73 mph to 68 mph, for instance, can save as much as a half mile per gallon, Saxman explains.
He also stressed the importance of driving in the optimum gear for instance, cruising in 10th gear instead of ninth. Volvo engines come with a Differential Road Speed Governor function which allows the fleet to ensure drivers are operating in the appropriate gear. Running in top gear lowers engine RPM and saves fuel, says Saxman.
Likewise, the engine brake should be set for optimum performance. The engine brake should not be set to engage with cruise control. By turning off this setting, the truck will roll further after a downgrade and the driver can stay off the throttle longer. Saxman also suggests disabling the fan-on setting with the engine brake.
Cruise control can be set about two miles per hour lower than the speed limiter, providing further incentive for a driver to slow down. You can also set “elastic” cruise and speed limiter limits, which allow speed to drop slightly on upgrades and also allow the truck to roll out faster on downgrades, further improving fuel economy.
Fleet managers are also urged to provide incentives for fuel-efficient drivers. Volvo engines come with a Performance Bonus Guide, which uses real-time information to provide a driver with feedback on how to maximize fuel mileage. Icons on the in-cab display show a driver when he or she is operating the engine in the “sweet spot” and when to back off the throttle. Fleet managers can also program a bonus feature into the engine which rewards fuel-efficient drivers with some extra horsepower for passing.
Finally, Saxman urges all fleets to practice good maintenance. Little things such as wheel alignments and resetting injectors and valves regularly and maintaining tire pressure will further improve fuel economy, Saxman says.
“Tire pressure can significantly affect fuel mileage, and requires a closer inspection than a thump with a baseball bat,” he says. “The time it takes to periodically air up all eighteen tires to recommended pressure is well worth it.”
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