Volvo Trucks highlights lineup of fuel efficient XE powertrain packages

Volvo Trucks highlights lineup of fuel efficient XE powertrain packages

MATS presentation also highlights uptime initiatives, liftable axle system

LOUISVILLE, KY. Volvo Trucks on Thursday showcased its latest fuel efficiency improvements, including a new XE – eXceptional Efficiency – powertrain package for linehaul applications, at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show here.

Like Volvo’s other XE packages, XE super direct drive improves fuel efficiency by lowering engine rpms at a given vehicle speed – a concept Volvo calls “downspeeding.” By using a direct drive Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission, the new package offers additional fuel efficiency benefits compared with conventional direct drive transmissions. 

“Volvo Trucks is intensely focused on continual improvement in the key areas that drive our customers’ success, and nothing affects the bottom line more than fuel efficiency,” said Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “However, we understand that all customers are not the same. In addition to improvements like aerodynamic upgrades that help a wide segment of the industry, we have worked closely with our customers to develop powertrain options and other solutions that benefit specific applications.”

Additionally, model year 2016 aerodynamic and underhood improvements increase fuel efficiency by up to 3.5 percent, depending on model, the company said.

XE super direct drive, which will be available for order mid-year, is designed for linehaul applications that operate in top gear at a gross combination weight rating of 80,000 pounds or less with maximum engine torque of 1,850 lb.-ft.

XE super direct drive incorporates Meritor’s new super-fast 2.28 ratio for its 14X tandem drive axle and RPL35 driveline. While Meritor’s existing 14X tandem is designed to handle higher torques, Meritor has fortified the design by enlarging the pinion system to accommodate extreme torque levels associated with downspeeding. The 2.28 axle ratio and driveline engineered for downspeeding ensure that torque is transmitted evenly throughout the drivetrain.

A 2.47 rear axle ratio with a direct drive transmission amounts to 1,370 rpm at 65 miles per hour. A 2.28 rear axle ratio equals 1,265 rpm at the same speed. The 105 less rpm between the two equates to an approximate 1.5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. 

XE super direct drive is the latest option in Volvo’s evolution of XE powertrains optimized for efficiency and performance. Earlier this year, Volvo launched an online tool at www.volvotrucks.us.com/torque to help customers select the best torque package by answering just a few questions about their operation.

Focus on uptime

In other news from MATS, Volvo announced that beginning in April its Volvo Remote Diagnostics service will be expanded to monitor critical fault codes on the Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission. Other developments related to uptime that Volvo is highlighting include dealer investments in parts and service and the recent opening of the Uptime Center in Greensboro, NC.

“Vehicle uptime is arguably the highest priority for our customers because trucks benefit their owners only if they are moving,” Nyberg said. ”While technology such as Remote Diagnostics is a key element of our uptime services, we believe that a strong dealer network and knowledgeable, diligent Volvo aftermarket support personnel are critical as well.”

Given the success of Remote Diagnostics in proactively monitoring fault codes on Volvo engines and aftertreatment systems, beginning in April the service will expand to monitor internal I-Shift transmission components on model year 2016 trucks. Remote Diagnostics will monitor both the standard I-Shift transmission and the I-Shift for severe-duty applications.

Nyberg also emphasized that Volvo has more than 360 Class 8 dealer locations throughout North America, and they continue to upgrade their capabilities to maximize customer uptime.

Since 2010, Volvo dealers have invested $435 million, and many new facilities are planned or under construction.

Adaptive Loading

Volvo also introduced Adaptive Loading, a new 6x2 liftable forward axle that automatically adjusts to load weight changes and offers 4x2 operation under certain conditions.

Key benefits of Adaptive Loading include greater fuel efficiency, improved traction, lower maintenance costs and increased driver productivity, the company said. Adaptive Loading is aimed at bulk haul or general freight operations where the truck goes out loaded and returns empty and for diminishing-load applications.

To further enhance fuel efficiency gains, customers selecting Adaptive Loading can choose one of Volvo’s XE powertrain packages, including XE Adaptive Gearing and XE Economy. XE powertrain packages improve fuel efficiency by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed, a concept Volvo calls “downspeeding.”

“Many customers selecting Adaptive Loading will find XE Adaptive Gearing a great choice as well because it is designed to benefit applications that go out loaded and return empty,” said Wade Long, Volvo Trucks product marketing director. “Customers can magnify their fuel savings by optimizing both suspension and powertrain specs.”

XE Adaptive Gearing, available as an option since the beginning of the year, operates in direct drive when loaded and in overdrive when empty.

Adaptive Loading also can improve productivity for drivers, Volvo said. By operating the ECS in manual mode on a parked truck, drivers can raise the tractor’s suspension system up to two inches above normal ride height, which can speed trailer drop-and-hook operations and make lifting the trailer’s landing gear easier and safer. This enables drivers to spend more time on the road and less time at shipper and receiver facilities.

“Trucking applications that go out fully loaded and return empty traditionally have had to spec equipment to accommodate maximum loads even though they don’t need those specs for half the miles they run,” Long said. “With Adaptive Loading, those customers can reduce fuel and maintenance costs by operating a different configuration when empty or lightly loaded.”

A gallery of images from Volvo’s exhibit at MATS is here.

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