You will see a lot of stories around the web this week indicating that Volvo’s "Mean Green" truck has established a new world speed record. Volvo neglected to mention in the press release that it was the world hybrid truck speed record it had attained and hundreds of sites regurgitated the release verbatim without thought. The world land speed record is 1227 km/h - the Volvo ran about 1000 km/h slower than that.
While the Mean Green's 2100 bhp D16 diesel/electric powertrain generated an impressive (for a truck with all that frontal area and the cD of a housebrick) 236.577 km/h (147.002 mph) flying kilometer, that's a long way short of the Thrust SSC's supersonic 1227.986 km/h absolute land speed record, the wheel-driven record of 737.794 km/h, the diesel-powered record of 563.995 km/h, the electric-powered record of 495.140 km/h and indeed, not much faster than the wind-powered land speed record of 202.9 km/h set by Ecotricity Greenbird in 2009.
What is impressive is that Mean Green runs the same Volvo hybrid drive system being used by hundreds of Volvo buses throughout the world, including London's double-decker buses.
The truck also took the Standing Kilometer record for trucks at an average 153.252 km/h (95.245 mph), an enormous feat of acceleration for the motor which produces 6,780 Nm (5,000 lb-ft.) torque, of which, 1,200 Nm (885 lb-ft.) of torque comes from the electric motor. The electric motor is responsible for 200 bhp of the 2100 bhp total.
The speed record attempts were sanctioned by the United States Auto Club, an extension of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), motoring’s international governing body. The new world records are subject to FIA recognition, which will occur in about 30 to 60 days.
Mean Green established its first records of 218.780 km/h (135.943 mph) in the flying kilometer in June 2011 at Hultsfred Airport in Sweden.
Though Mean Green’s aerodynamic body design bears little resemblance to a normal Volvo freight-carrying tractor unit, the truck is comprised almost entirely of production components from the Volvo vehicle family, including a Volvo VN cab and frame.