Nearly every week we are hearing about another business or public sector group introducing hybrid commercial vehicles into their fleets in order to save money and protect the environment. Many people at first thought that hybrid commercial vehicles would be difficult to manufacturer, especially as larger vehicles need a considerable amount of power in order to run effectively. However, manufacturers have proved that it can be done, and recently we have heard how Volvo’s FE diesel hybrid trucks are actually better than their diesel counterparts.
Since 2011 Volvo’s hybrid commercial vehicles have been used by a number of companies, most of which have said that they are finding the trucks extremely beneficial, especially as they provide excellent fuel consumption and 30 per cent less CO2 emissions than the traditional diesel models. Discussing their success, Volvo’s business manager for alternative drivelines, Christina Eriksson, said: “Our hybrid technology has performed exactly as we hoped, as regards both carbon dioxide emission reductions and reliability.”
Before releasing the vehicles into the commercial vehicle market Volvo also made sure that they trained two hybrid technology experts so that if any of the drivers had a problem they could come and help. However, according to Ms Eriksson: “The fact is they [the experts] have had very little to do. They’ve spent most of their time training drivers and mechanics.” Even though the experts have not been used as much as Volvo first expected, the fact that the company provides such an excellent after-care service shows that they are keen for groups to start getting the most out of their hybrid trucks.
At the moment, around half of the Volvo trucks used by groups are for distribution, while the other half are for refuse duties, which Volvo says suits the trucks due to the start-stop nature of the work. Ton van der Horst, a refuse driver from Rotterdam has praised the trucks, especially due to the fact that they are quieter than diesel versions. He added: “We get a lot of compliments and thumbs-up from people out on our rounds, they really appreciate that such a large truck can be so quiet and clean. They’re reliable, offer really good visibility and great driveability. What’s more, they’re very quiet.”
Even though there has been much praise for Volvo, and other manufacturer’s, hybrid commercial vehicles, there is still the problem that they are much more expensive than their diesel counterparts and also cost more in commercial vehicle insurance. However, manufacturers have claimed that they are working on ways to reduce the costs, so hopefully we will be able to see more companies investing in such vehicles in the near future.