Volvo Trucks are famous for their crazy publicity stunts. One of the most memorable involved a Hollywood actor Jean-Claude Van Damme doing splits on two trucks driving backwards. This video went viral. However, the latest trick of a truck towing a paraglider through some mountainous landscape and on twisty roads was equally impressive. How it was possible?
The key to the success here was maintaining stable speed, regardless of the road conditions. It means that truck could not slow down while driving up a steep hill. It is quite normal for trucks to bog down while climbing steep inclines – we all have been stuck behind one of them. But Volvo believes that maintaining a constant speed is the key to efficient delivery of goods and it also helps saving substantial amounts of fuel – this is exactly what businesses are looking for in their trucks. This trick would be impossible with an old generation of trucks – they could not hold a constant high speed, required to keep the paraglider up in the Croatian skies.
Volvo FH 540 became the star of the video. It was able to maintain the needed high speed thanks to its updated D13 engine, producing 540 HP (hence the name), and I-Shift Dual Clutch gearbox. It is, by the way, world’s first dual clutch gearbox for heavy trucks – before we saw this technology in supercars only. It is actually a quite impressive unit. It allows for very smooth gear changes and maintains torque delivery during gear changes – this was crucial for this kind of trick. Furthermore, it features sophisticated software, which adapts the gear changes to the prevailing conditions. In normal conditions it means that stress for the driver is reduced and truck is consuming less fuel.
Of course, engine was very important too. Volvo engineers have been working hard on this updated D13 unit and managed to reduce internal frictions and weight, improve software and turbochargers. A new common rail injection system has been introduced as well. It all results in a powertrain, which is very rich in torque. And so Volvo FH 540 can accelerate going out of the corners or even driving uphill, which was the key to the success of this trick.
What does this test mean for Volvo Truck customers? It shows how smooth the powertrain is and how capable the truck really is. Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks, said: “Meeting deadlines and keeping fuel consumption low, even when driving uphill and on winding roads, are key elements to success for many of our customers. This test is the perfect way to challenge our recently updated powertrain”.
Volvo Trucks are still surprising people with their stunts. One cannot help, but wonder – what is their next idea going to be?