Europe’s biggest truck show - the IAA in Hanover, took place at the end of September. The sheer size of the show is enough to take your breath away, before you have trudged around the kilometres of 1,619 exhibitors. There were plenty of themes on show, but it was the proliferation of truck hybrids that made the biggest news.
In truth, we had seen most of the hybrid trucks before, as early prototypes – the difference now is that some of the manufacturers have the vehicles available for sale.
The formats all seem to be very similar – take an EEV engine, bolt on an automatic gearbox with an electric motor attached and add a hundred kilos of Lithium –Ion batteries and run them in parallel. This means that the trucks can run on diesel only, diesel and electric simultaneously or purely electrically driven, (although only for a handful of miles).
The company’s new Mercedes-Benz Atego has just been awarded the truck of the year 2011 – importantly the judges stressed that it was the progress with the 1222 L EEV BlueTec Hybrid version that impressed. The hybrid is currently under test and 50 of them are to be sold to German customers to prove the system in a working environment. It will be some while before UK Mercedes-Benz dealers can get their teeth into selling the Atego Hybrid.
The Japanese arm of the Daimler Trucks empire are further down the road with alternative drives than their European counterparts. There are already 1,000 Canter hybrids in operation including ten on test in London for the last two years. Expect to see more of them at UK dealerships in the not too distant future.
DAF are well on the way to actually producing their LF Hybrid – the first European manufacturer to do so. The company announced that the Leyland plant would start the hybrid production before this year is out. As with the Atego, the DAF LF is plated at 12 tonnes GVW, to ensure that there is an acceptable payload of about 7.5 tonnes – the LF Hybrid carrying a 300kg weight disadvantage over a standard diesel version. The DAF LF Hybrid will only be offered as standard via PACCAR Financial with a full operational lease contract. This means that the DAF dealer can implement any potential updates during the contract term.
The company has been working on hybrid drives since the 1970’s – despite this their TGL 12.220 Hybrid is still just a technical exercise for the company as it doesn’t believe that there is a business case for the technology as it stands today.
Volvo was demonstrating a hybrid driveline based on a 7-litre engine that will be launched in a hybrid version of the Volvo FE in 2011. Volvo is currently the only truck manufacturer (With the exception of subsidiary Renault Trucks offering hybrid technology for vehicles in the 26-tonne segment.
Renault Trucks are running trials higher up the weight range at 26 tonnes, with vehicles starting work with Coca Cola, Colas roads and SITA. The company’s first experiment as been completed and their ‘second generation’ hybrid trial means that the Premium Distribution Hybrys Tech truck won’t be appearing in dealerships any time soon.
Green’s the Theme
Continuing the show’s green theme, there was not a truck on display that wasn’t at least an EEV – DAF has announced that all of their engine ratings are now available in EEV, some of which without the use of a soot particle filter.
Scania have launched their ‘Ecolution’ brand which makes sure that best-practise operations are adhered to – from optimum vehicle specification to maintenance to driver training and ongoing coaching
MAN have launched their TGX ‘EfficientLine’ – speed limited to 85kmh and without the option of additional sun visors or compressed-air horns on its standard XLX cab, savings of 0.3 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres can be made plus aerodynamic side cladding, which reduces consumption by another 0.4 litres. Add the aluminium wheels, driver training, efficient alternators and air compressors makes
Iveco has adopted a similar approach with their EcoStralis model – essentially a bundling together of many small fuel-saving initiatives into one truck, where it is hoped a relatively large overall fuel saving will result. Changes include new 305/70R22.5 tyres that are matched with the 2.64:1 rear axle ratio to bring an ideal drive ratio optimised for economy and driveability, a tyre pressure monitoring system, Fiat’s Blue&Me telematics, a air deflector kit, Eurotronic automatic gearbox, and an ECO switch.
Not content with a production truck, Iveco put on show their new concept, the Glider. Iveco’s Glider uses high photovoltaic panels to generate renewable energy on board. The panels cover a surface area of approximately 2 m2 of the cab roof, and can produce up to 2 kWh of energy.
The Glider also uses a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) to power the auxiliary systems. In addition, the heat of the exhaust gases is instead turned into electricity thanks to a thermo-dynamic system based on a Rankine cycle, a sort of compact and efficient steam machine. A high efficiency heat exchanger is positioned in the exhaust line immediately after the emission control system. The heat recovery system helps reduce the vehicle's fuel requirements by up to 10% on motorway journeys.
Not to be left out, the MAN team have put together an impressive design concept that focuses on both the tractor unit and the trailer. With the attention-grabbing headline of a 25% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2, the streamlined tractor unit differs radically from today's typically cube-shaped trucks. The ‘Concept S’ was developed in the wind tunnel to reduce the wind resistance to levels comparable to some cars. To keep load volumes in line with current levels, the truck and trailer combination would have to be significantly longer than is legally permitted at present – up to 20 metres.
The big news came from the Nissan stand, with the first unveiling of the Nissan NV400, Nissan’s heavyweight van contender, which we cover in more detail in our new product news pages. Fiat had a new concept on show – a Doblo chassis cab dropside conversion – plus a whole range of ‘natural power’ range – all factory-fitted to run on methane, (plenty of that available in the press conferences).
Full electric vans were on show from Mitsubishi (Canter), Ford (Connect), Renault (Kangoo), Renault Trucks (Maxity), Mercedes (Vito E-Cell), Citroen (First Electrique), although dealers will struggle to get hold of them any time soon.
The Wow Factor
Visiting the show was a little like the first time in Las Vegas – everything is bigger, louder and more professional than you have ever encountered before. The Germans take their exhibitions very seriously – the show was open for ‘press only’ for two whole days before the general public were allowed to enter and there were huge press conferences seating hundreds with simultaneous translation into six languages.
Most impressive, however, was the size of the exhibition displays. If this is the German truck industry holding back and cutting down in these austere times, then one can only guess how excessive it would all be if they pushed the boat out. Daimler Trucks pulled together all of their brands under one roof – literally taking over a hall at least the size of two football pitches – containing no fewer than 65 vehicles.