Volvo CE Previews Electric Hybrid, Autonomous Technologies

September 16, 2016

After teasing a hybrid wheel loader at Conexpo 2008 and watching a number of competitors' hybrid machines reach the market in the interim, Volvo Construction Equipment finally lifted the lid on its hybrid efforts at an international customer and press event in Eskilstuna, Sweden.

It unveiled a prototype loader, dubbed the LX1, which is billed as an electric hybrid machine that can deliver up to a 50 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. The electric hybrid also offers a reduction in emissions and noise pollution compared to its conventional counterparts.

The LX1 incorporates a driveline that consists of electric drive motors mounted at the wheels, electric hydraulics, an energy storage system, a significantly smaller diesel engine (3.6L), and new machine architecture. Volvo says the prototype, which features 98 percent new parts and a fundamentally new machine design, is capable of doing the work of a wheel loader that is one size larger. At this stage, the LX1 is part of a research project in "electromobility" and is not commercially available. Volvo officials gave no timetable for a market launch.

As different OEMs have differing definitions of exactly what constitutes a hybrid, note that the Volvo Group defines electromobility as ‘commercial vehicles and machines that can utilize an electrical motor to propel or to perform the main purpose of the machine’. A hybrid is classified as a machine that uses more than one power source and captures and reuses energy that would otherwise be wasted. It is a prerequisite that the machine has the capability for energy storage to count as a true hybrid, the company says.

Volvo also showed autonomous machine demonstration models: an L120 wheel loader, an A25F ADT, and a completely cab-less dump truck (called an autonomous, battery-electric load carrier) that seemingly can be loaded from every angle. Again, there was no market timetable revealed, but Volvo readily admitted the technology could be expanded to other machine categories, such as excavators.