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Volvo reveals secrets of emissions-slashing trucks

<p>A three-year trial slashed output from distribution fleets in Sweden by 30 percent.</p>

Volvo Group this week has revealed how a combination of cleaner fuels, more efficient engines and smarter logistics have helped cut emissions from a fleet of 400 trucks by almost a third as part of a three-year trial.

The auto giant published results from its Climate Smart City Distribution project earlier this week, detailing how a fleet of distribution trucks in the Swedish city of Gothenburg used new technologies and management techniques to cut emissions 30 percent.

Olof Persson, president and chief executive of Volvo, hailed the trial as evidence that "with more energy-efficient vehicles, fuels with a lower environmental impact and smarter logistics, it is possible to achieve significant improvements." The trial used a range of technologies to assess their viability and the level of emission reductions they would achieve.

It focused on replacing conventional diesel-fueled trucks with renewable fuels such as biodiesel, biogas and natural gas, hybrid technology and methane-diesel fuel. The research found that emissions savings varied significantly with a switch to diesel containing 30 percent biofuel delivering emissions savings of 14 percent, while gas-driven light vehicles cut emissions 83 percent and hybrid vehicles using rapeseed-based biofuel cut emissions 84 percent.

The emissions savings delivered by new technologies then were maximized by optimizing fleet management to reduce congestion and ensure efficient use of delivery vans by the 6,500 companies operating in central Gothenburg. The trial found that opening up bus lanes to distribution trucks and coordinating logistics activities for neighboring businesses helped to curb congestion and deliver deep cuts in emissions.

"The most difficult challenge was not to develop new fuels or new vehicle technology but to improve the efficiency of our transport operations," admitted Lars Mårtensson, environmental director for Volvo Trucks. "In order to fully exploit the available potential, it's not enough for haulage companies to improve their logistics systems; it's equally important that transport purchasers become better at coordinating their purchases, and here there is a whole lot of room for improvement."

Image of a Volvo truck by kenjonbro via Flickr

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