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Volvo claims World Hybrid Truck speed record


May 6, 2012

Volvo’s hybrid truck, ‘Mean Green’, established new world speed records on April 27th at Wendover Airfield in Utah, USA.Mean Green

Volvo’s hybrid truck, ‘Mean Green’, established new world speed records on April 27th at Wendover Airfield in Utah, USA.Mean Green

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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.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

You could put a flashlight battery and slot car motor coupled with a rubber band to the drivetrain and claim a hybrid record with the bigass (technical term, not profanity) diesel engine like this truck has.

I'd also note the author's dismissive "Cd like a brick" is showing significant amounts of ignorance. Aero drag is the major factor at those speeds, not rolling resistance. The lowering of the truck, the fairing of the gas tanks complete with low drag NACA air intake, and the longitudinal winglike shape all contribute to lowering drag SIGNIFICANTLY over a stock truck body - a real journalist would have asked Volvo what the Cd was, instead of falling for their PR BS with "like a brick".

One more thing...there's nothing green about this truck, fueling its 2100HP engine, other than its paint color


Well... The rear of the truck is actually quite brick-ish and when considering drag you should not ignore the backdraft (or whatever the techical term is) produced by that steep rear. The turbulence behind that thing at 230 Km/h would be significant and require a lot of power to overcome. Otherwise I agree. There is not much green about this. The only thing that can move that fast and still be environmentaly friendly is a glider (sailplane).

Conny Söre
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