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Volvo Group Preps e-Mack for Ports

August 26, 2014 in Electric Drive, Hybrids, Technology by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Pinnacle Truck with Smaller Engine for Catenary Trials

The Volvo Group is preparing a modified Mack Pinnacle tractor with a smaller diesel engine and a battery pack affording all-electric range of five to ten miles for the government-sponsored overhead catenary power truck project that’s gathering steam in Southern California.

A Mack Pinnacle tractor will be modified for the catenary power trials in Carson, Calif.

A Mack Pinnacle tractor will be modified for the catenary power trials in Carson, Calif.

The latest project award, from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to Siemens, will see testing of at least three truck types on a two-lane, two-mile stretch of road in Carson, Calif., near the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Two trucks are to be supplied by TransPower and at least one by the Volvo Group (F&F, August 13).

The Mack Pinnacle for the catenary project will be similar to a plug-in electric also being developed under contract to SCAQMD, but with electrical power drawn via device called a pantograph from overhead power lines.

11 Liters Instead of 13

The vehicle will have an 11-liter diesel engine instead of the vehicle’s usual 13-liter unit, and a battery pack with a capacity of between 10 and 20 kilowatt-hours, according to Volvo Group transport solutions and services VP Jan Hellaker.

Once off of the overhead power lines, the truck will operate as a conventional hybrid electric. Volvo is thus far keeping performance data under wraps, but early indications of fuel efficiency are “almost too good to be true,” Hellaker told F&F.

The Volvo Group is taking a long-range view of alternative fuels and vehicle electrification. In addition to offering natural gas trucks, it is mounting what is probably the industry’s most serious attempt to commercialize DME/dimethyl ether, which can be made from biomass (F&F, June 11, 2013). Volvo is at the same time pursuing zero emissions through electrification.

For Volvo in Sweden, the power's in the pavement.

For Volvo in Sweden, the power’s in the pavement.

Similar Work in Sweden

The Volvo Group recently publicized a plan, supported by the Swedish Transport Administration, to build electrified roadways that can power and/or charge vehicles as they move – a goal generally analogous with SCAQMD’s idea for the Port trucks.

“In order to get to zero emissions transportation, there has to be some kind of dynamic charging,” Hellaker says.

The company has been testing a truck system with the power supply built into the roadway at a new 400-meter track at its testing facility in Hällered outside Gothenburg since last autumn.

For the transit sector, Volvo says that a 300- to 500-meter electric road may be built for test operations in central Gothenburg next year.

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Source: Volvo-Mack with Fleets & Fuels interview follow-up

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