As part of a U.S. Army program aimed at reducing the weight and improving fuel economy of heavy vehicles, Volvo Trucks North America is working to develop lightweight prototype sleepers made with new composite materials that are lighter yet stronger than traditional composites and designed to better resist corrosion, improve insulation, and provide a quieter sleeping environment for drivers at rest.
The project, part of the Army’s Military and Commercial Truck Weight Reduction Program, calls for Volvo and program partner TPI Composites to design, build and test three prototype sleeper cabs, with the first to be delivered in late 2009. The project is slated to run for 21 months, with Volvo and TPI sharing the $2.5 million funding, Volvo said.
“This project allows Volvo to explore the benefits of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques for military vehicles and commercial freight operations,” said Scott Kress, Volvo senior vp-sales& marketing, at a news conference held at TPI’s Warren, R.I., facility.
Kress noted that the composite sleeper cabs will consist of three pieces: a one-piece composite sleeper, a composite roof and Volvo’s steel cab, modified to attach to the sleeper. Testing will include the “cab shaker,” in which a full-size cab and sleeper – complete with all interior fittings – is attached to a large hydraulic device and subjected to prolonged violent shaking so as to measure durability and integrity. One of the three cabs will also be subjected to the Swedish Impact Test, Volvo said.