Volvo Offers Advice on Managing $4 Diesel. Reduced fuel consumption also cuts CO2 emissions.

Volvo trucks and engines have many features to help truck operators reduce fuel consumption. It’s more important than ever to make full use of these features now that the U.S. average price for diesel is over $4 a gallon and rising. And less diesel consumed means less CO2 emitted to the atmosphere.
“Volvo engines are extremely fuel efficient to begin with and their performance is integrated with the leading aerodynamic design of Volvo’s trucks,” according to Ed Saxman, Volvo marketing product manager – drivetrain.  “But once the truck is delivered to the customer, maximum fuel economy depends on making sure the engine parameters are correctly set for operating conditions, the truck is correctly maintained and it is driven in the most efficient manner.”

Saxman listed areas where Volvo operators could turn to for improved fuel economy,  starting with resetting the engine electronic parameters.

Slow Down
Reset the road speed limiter to a lower speed.  The rule of thumb is you gain one tenth of a mile per gallon for every one mile per hour reduction in speed.  Slowing from 73 mph to 68 mph can save as much as a half-mile per gallon.  In an older fleet of company trucks, many trucks may no longer be set at the same RSL as when they were new.  Lower speeds may be more acceptable to drivers today as they see fillups hit $1200 or more.

Use the Right Gear
Make sure drivers aren’t spending too much time in lower gears, such as cruising in 9th instead of 10th gear.  This can be eliminated by enabling the Volvo Differential Road Speed Governor function.  Set the maximum speed for one gear down (“RSL-X”) to a speed that will encourage the driver to use the top gear, thereby lowering engine rpm and saving fuel (and avoiding unnecessary wear on the engine).

Engine Brake Settings
If the engine brake is set to engage with the cruise control, consider disabling this feature.   This will allow the truck to roll out farther after a downgrade, so the driver doesn’t have to go back on the accelerator as quickly.  Another tip with the same effect for highway applications is to disable the fan-on setting with engine brake.

Cruise Control Setting
The cruise control and road speed limiter algorithms on today’s Volvo engines are the same, so there is no performance difference on hills if drivers use cruise control or keep the accelerator floored.  Setting the Maximum Cruise Control Set Speed to two mph less than RSL can be an incentive for the driver to slow down an additional two mph.

Another cruise control tip is to set “elastic” cruise and RSL limits, so they allow speed to drop very slightly on upgrades and allow the truck to roll out a little faster on downgrades. This improves fuel economy.

Performance Bonus Guide
No matter how fuel efficient the truck, the biggest single impact on fuel economy is the driver.  That’s why recent Volvo engines have a unique feature called the Performance Bonus Guide.  The Performance Bonus Guide uses real-time feedback to coach drivers to be more fuel efficient and to keep the engine in the “sweet spot” of its performance range.  It also makes it worth a driver’s effort to save fuel.

Performance Bonus Guide is available on many Volvo engines starting with Model Year 2006 Volvo D12D and D16D engines.  It has icons on Volvo’s Driver Information Display to tell the driver to ease up on the throttle or to shift to a higher gear to keep engine rpm low, both of which help keep the engine in the sweet spot.  It also has a “bonus” feature that can be programmed to reward drivers with a brief period of higher speed for passing or which can be tied into the company’s incentive program.

Maintain Good Maintenance
There are no surprises here, according to Saxman. A well-maintained truck runs more efficiently than a poorly maintained one.  For instance, wheel alignment, as signaled by tire wear patterns, can affect fuel economy.  And resetting the injectors and valves is a scheduled maintenance procedure that should not be deferred, since it will definitely improve fuel economy.
Saxman also recommends some very basic maintenance – making sure tires have the correct air pressure.  “Tire pressure can significantly affect fuel mileage, and requires a closer inspection than a thump with a baseball bat,” he said.  “The time it takes to periodically air up all eighteen tires to recommended pressure is well worth it.”

Finally, pay attention to fuel quality and buy from a quality supplier.  Poor fuel filter life frequently has poor quality fuel as the root cause.

Volvo Trucks North America assembles its Volvo VT, VN and VHD trucks in the United States, at the ISO14001 and ISO9001 certified New River Valley Plant in Dublin, Virginia.  Volvo engines for North America are assembled in Hagerstown, Maryland.  Volvo sponsors the America’s Road Team national highway safety outreach program.

Volvo Trucks North America is part of the Volvo Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of trucks, buses and construction equipment, drive systems for marine and industrial applications, aerospace components and services, and is the world's leading producer of heavy-diesel engines (9-16 liter). The Group also provides complete solutions for financing and service. The Volvo Group, which employs about 100,000 people, has production facilities in 19 countries and sells their products in more than 180 markets. Annual sales of the Volvo Group amount to over $42 billion. The Volvo Group is a publicly-held company headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Shares are listed on OMX Nordic Exchange Stockholm and are traded OTC in the US.

April 28, 2008

For further information, please contact Jim McNamara, Volvo Trucks North America, phone 336-393-2143, email

Volvo trucks are designed to be extremely fuel efficient, but maximum fuel economy depends on making sure the engine parameters are correctly set for operating conditions, the truck is correctly maintained and it is driven in the most efficient manner.