You might not think of Volvo as a green car company. But their vehicles' ability to run (however poorly) for hundreds of thousands of miles with only basic maintenance has always kept me fond of the company. After all, a tremendous amount of energy goes into creation of a car...in some cases, nearly as much as is used driving the car around.
Now Volvo is, once again, pulling its green cred from unexpected sources:. This time, it's a hybrid garbage truck. They've been working on the project for a while now...we first wrote about it last August, but now they've got them functioning in the real world...and with 20% of real-world fuel savings.
There are two versions of the truck lurching around Sweden at the moment. They both use lithium-ion batteries that are charged when the vehicle makes its frequent stops. They both can operate without ever turning the diesel engine on, as long as the batteries stay charged and the trucks don't go faster than 12 mph. And they both turn their diesel engines off as soon as they stop.
But one of them has to turn its engine on to power the trash compactor. The other contains another grid-charged lithium-ion battery that powers the compactor, saving an additional 10% of fuel.
Hybrid technology is perfect for garbage trucks. Massive amounts of energy is needed to get them up to speed, only to be completely wasted as the trucks come to their frequent stops. Additionally, air quality is of particular concern in the urban environments where these dirty diesels spend most of their days.
But the question remains...will municipalities and waste management companies make the switch even if $4/gallon diesel remains cheaper than hybrid efficiency?
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