A hybrid refuse truck that combines a seven litre diesel engine with an electric motor is expected to use up to 20 per cent less fuel than a conventional diesel truck and cut carbon dioxide emissions by a corresponding amount.
Two of the trucks have already been produced by Volvo Trucks, who plan to start producing them in volume in 2009 after an evaluation programme in which they will be tested in regular daily operations by Swedish refuse collection firms Renova and Ragn-Sells.
'This test phase is the last stage in the evaluation of our hybrid solution ahead of production launch,' revealed Staffan Jufors, president and CEO of the Volvo Truck Corporation.
The electric motors in the trucks are used when the trucks move off from standstill, and to accelerate them up to 20km/h. At higher speeds, the diesel engine is fired up. When the truck stops, the diesel engine automatically switches off, thus avoiding unnecessary idling. The truck's lithium-ion batteries are recharged using the power that is generated during braking.
One of the trucks also is equipped with an extra battery pack that drives the refuse compactor, and this is charged via the mains electrical system when the truck is parked overnight.