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Volvo Trucks in North America today introduced Adaptive Loading, a new 6×2 liftable forward axle that automatically adjusts to load weight changes and offers 4×2 operation under certain conditions. Volvo demonstrated Adaptive Loading at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show.

Key benefits of Adaptive Loading include greater fuel efficiency, improved traction, lower maintenance costs and increased driver productivity. Adaptive Loading is ideal for bulk haul or general freight operations where the truck goes out loaded and returns empty and for diminishing-load applications.

“As our customers continually strive to reduce operating costs and increase productivity, we must deliver solutions tailored to their specific applications,” said Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “For many operations that run empty or lightly loaded much of the time, Adaptive Loading is an innovative way to change the truck’s configuration on the fly for maximum efficiency.”

To further enhance fuel efficiency gains, customers selecting Adaptive Loading can choose one of Volvo’s XE – eXceptional Efficiency – powertrain packages, including XE Adaptive Gearing and XE Economy. XE powertrain packages improve fuel efficiency by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed, a concept Volvo calls “downspeeding.”

“Many customers selecting Adaptive Loading will find XE Adaptive Gearing a great choice as well because it is designed to benefit applications that go out loaded and return empty,” said Wade Long, Volvo Trucks product marketing director. “Customers can magnify their fuel savings by optimizing both suspension and powertrain specs.”

XE Adaptive Gearing, available as an option since the beginning of the year, operates in direct drive when loaded and in overdrive when empty.

Greater fuel efficiency

Like other 6×2 setups, Adaptive Loading improves fuel efficiency compared with traditional 6×4 configurations, which have two drive axles. The non-drive axle, which is in the forward position of the tandem axles, helps distribute load weight without the internal gearing of a drive axle, lowering weight and reducing internal friction. The reduced weight – more than 300 pounds compared with a 6×4 – enables a greater payload.

The liftable forward axle and Volvo’s Electronically Controlled Suspension (ECS) technology offer additional fuel efficiency benefits. Adaptive Loading and Volvo’s current 6×2 option both use ECS to dynamically transfer weight among the two axles. In Adaptive Loading, ECS – based on pre-programmed weight thresholds – automatically lifts the axle in empty or light-load situations to create a 4×2 configuration, which reduces rolling resistance from tires.

Lower maintenance costs

Another advantage of operating in a 4×2 configuration is reduced wear and longer life for tires and brakes installed on the lift axle. More consistent loading also offers increased tire life on the steer axle and drive axle.

Improved driver productivity

Adaptive Loading also can improve productivity for drivers. By operating the ECS in manual mode on a parked truck, drivers can raise the tractor’s suspension system up to two inches above normal ride height, which can speed trailer drop-and-hook operations and make lifting the trailer’s landing gear easier and safer. This enables drivers to spend more time on the road and less time at shipper and receiver facilities.

Better traction

Volvo’s technology alleviates any concerns over traction in a 6×2 operation versus a 6×4. ECS preserves traction under lighter loads by transferring more weight to the drive axle. In adverse weather or other special situations, drivers can achieve enhanced traction through special ECS settings and traction support integrated into the chassis. Enhanced traction supports the truck during high-slip situations – better than 6×4 without inter-axle differential lock.

“Trucking applications that go out fully loaded and return empty traditionally have had to spec equipment to accommodate maximum loads even though they don’t need those specs for half the miles they run,” Long said. “With Adaptive Loading, those customers can reduce fuel and maintenance costs by operating a different configuration when empty or lightly loaded.”



Advancing its commitment to maximizing customer uptime, Volvo Trucks today announced that beginning in April its Volvo Remote Diagnostics service will be expanded to monitor critical fault codes on the Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission. Other developments related to uptime that Volvo is highlighting at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, include dealer investments in parts and service and the recent opening of the Uptime Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“Vehicle uptime is arguably the highest priority for our customers because trucks benefit their owners only if they are moving,” said Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “While technology such as Remote Diagnostics is a key element of our uptime services, we believe that a strong dealer network and knowledgeable, diligent Volvo aftermarket support personnel are critical as well.”

Remote Diagnostics, which Volvo launched in 2012 and made standard on all Volvo-powered vehicles in 2013, is a proactive diagnostic and repair planning system that monitors critical fault codes, identifies the necessary parts and supplies straightforward repair instructions to technicians, even before the truck arrives for service.

Given the success of Remote Diagnostics in proactively monitoring fault codes on Volvo engines and aftertreatment systems, beginning in April, the service will expand to monitor internal I-Shift transmission components on model year 2016 trucks. Remote Diagnostics will monitor both the standard I-Shift transmission and the I-Shift for severe-duty applications.

Uptime Center

Along with upgrading its technology, Volvo is investing in services related to uptime. The company last year opened its Uptime Center, a 123,000 square-foot facility in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Uptime Center consolidates under one roof the people and systems needed to monitor and respond to vehicle issues in real time.

Volvo Action Service agents make up the front lines of the Uptime Center, working directly with customers, dealers and Volvo representatives to resolve problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. All interaction among customers, dealers and Volvo is documented in ASIST, Volvo’s web-based service management platform, to ensure that everyone knows exactly where a case stands at any moment.

Other key members of the Uptime Center team include reliability engineers, who are responsible for diagnostics, developing service information and dealer tools and ensuring issues are addressed, and personnel focused on assisting dealers in helping the customer. Dealer support personnel troubleshoot challenging cases, manage warranty claims and resolve information technology issues. Parts specialists help dealers source parts and work with suppliers and production plants to fulfill orders.



Volvo Trucks today showcased its latest fuel efficiency improvements, including a new XE – eXceptional Efficiency – powertrain package for linehaul applications, at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

Like Volvo’s other XE packages, XE super direct drive improves fuel efficiency by lowering engine rpms at a given vehicle speed – a concept Volvo calls “downspeeding.” By using a direct drive Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission, the new package offers additional fuel efficiency benefits compared with conventional direct drive transmissions.

“Volvo Trucks is intensely focused on continual improvement in the key areas that drive our customers’ success, and nothing affects the bottom line more than fuel efficiency,” said Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “However, we understand that all customers are not the same. In addition to improvements like aerodynamic upgrades that help a wide segment of the industry, we have worked closely with our customers to develop powertrain options and other solutions that benefit specific applications.”

XE super direct drive, which will be available for order mid-year, is designed for linehaul applications that operate in top gear at a gross combination weight rating of 80,000 pounds or less with maximum engine torque of 1,850 lb.-ft.

XE super direct drive incorporates Meritor’s new super-fast 2.28 ratio for its 14X tandem drive axle and RPL35 driveline. While Meritor’s existing 14X tandem is designed to handle higher torques, Meritor has fortified the design by enlarging the pinion system to accommodate extreme torque levels associated with downspeeding. The 2.28 axle ratio and driveline engineered for downspeeding ensure that torque is transmitted evenly throughout the drivetrain.

A 2.47 rear axle ratio with a direct drive transmission amounts to 1,370 rpm at 65 miles per hour. A 2.28 rear axle ratio equals 1,265 rpm at the same speed. The 105 less rpm between the two equates to an approximate 1.5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.

Fine-tuning power

XE super direct drive is the latest option in Volvo’s evolution of XE powertrains optimized for efficiency and performance. Beginning with model year 2016, XE packages feature specific torque profiles based on a variety of factors, such as load profile, cruise speed, terrain, type of roads used and the customer’s priorities for fuel efficiency versus performance. XE currently is available in High Torque, Economy and Adaptive Gearing packages, depending on application.

Earlier this year, Volvo launched an online tool at to help customers select the best torque package by answering just a few questions about their operation.

Reducing drag and increasing powertrain efficiency

Volvo also has delivered significant fuel efficiency gains in model year 2016 vehicles through aerodynamic enhancements and changes under the hood. All new VNL models incorporate a new bumper design that flows air below chassis components. The VNL 630 and VNL 670 models also feature flared chassis fairings that provide better airflow around tires to trailer skirts. The VNL 670 also has an updated roof profile that further improves aerodynamics.

Under the hood, an improved cooling fan pulls air through the radiator more efficiently, and an updated fan clutch improves cold startup. An upgraded I-Shift cooler, which has been relocated to the transmission itself, brings transmission oil up to optimal temperature faster for greater efficiency.

The model year 2016 aerodynamic and underhood improvements increase fuel efficiency by up to 3.5 percent, depending on model.



Tire Rack: Revolutionizing tire buying since 1979.

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