Volvo truck, ECT and FL6 Hybrid - 1990

ECT and FL6 Hybrid

For more than a quarter of a century, Volvo trucks have been built with care of the environment in mind. In the design process this has meant that the engine has not only fulfilled legal requirements, but also the ambitions of the Volvo designers when it comes to engine emissions, noise, fuel efficiency, net weight (contributing to the large payload and thereby to overall transport efficiency) and several other factors.

ECT - Environmental Concept Truck
Superior environmental characteristics are vital for the future, if welfare and good health for the population is to be achieved. For this reason, it was decided in the early 1990s that an 'Environmental Concept Truck' ('ECT') should be designed, serving as a test platform for ideas to be incorporated in future series-produced Volvo trucks in various weight classes.

The work took place in a special project organization, which had full freedom to create the most environmentally efficient goods-carrying vehicle ever designed. It was soon decided to concentrate the primary efforts upon a distribution vehicle intended for efficient use in congested city areas.

Specially designed for efficiency
It was also decided that a major part of the design should concentrate not only upon zero emissions and low noise etc., but also upon the need for more efficient use of the vehicle, thereby reducing the number of trucks needed in the future and their transport distance and maximizing the carrying capacity in every part of the transport task.

To achieve a combination of both zero-emissions in sensitive environments and the possibility of driving any distance, a Hybrid propulsion system was chosen. In order to minimize the weight and dimensions of the driveline, and to make it possible to use any fuel, a gas turbine (developed within the Volvo organization) was chosen in combination with an electric motor. The electric engine with its superior torque characteristics made the transmission of power very simple (=efficient) to the drive wheels.

Safety and ergonomics
A major ambition was to facilitate driving in small streets and around narrow corners. For this reason, a solution with steering on all wheels was chosen which contributed to extremely good handling characteristics.
As always in a Volvo vehicle, the driver's area was both ergonomic and safe, with a low level cab (made even lower thanks to the lack of a conventional engine tunnel), wide doors and extremely good vision (both to the front and to the sides and rear, thanks to a TV camera system).

Maximum recycling
An ever-increasing proportion of today's transport goods are ready-made sensitive products which were well cushioned in the ECT thanks to optimised air suspension, with the ability to lower and raise the vehicle. The volume of raw materials needed to make a vehicle and the energy needed to transform the raw materials is huge.

For this reason it was decided to design the vehicle so that nearly all of the components needed to make the ECT could be used again (and again and again) in new trucks.

The road to more efficient vehicles
The ECT was presented in 1995 and created great interest. It is being used within the Volvo organization in the work aimed at creating even more efficient (series-produced) vehicles for the future. In order to study the options for using solutions derived from the ECT, various tests are performed in vehicles other than the ECT. One such example is a number of hybrid-driven distribution FL6 vehicles, which are used for daily distribution services in Gothenburg, Sweden. Today, hybrid FM trucks are being tested in the same way, to gain practical knowledge and as a test bed for future series-produced trucks.

This test is a practical test of the possibility of creating ecological and economic solutions in the short-term, which can contribute to a better environment in the sensitive big-city areas of the world. Tests are now carried out in secret in laboratories and in selected test vehicles.