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).