Fuelwatch maximizes fuel economy for Volvo customers

Volvo Trucks North America today unveiled its Fuelwatch initiative to help fleet managers and truck operators achieve maximum fuel economy. Fuelwatch is a comprehensive approach to get the most out of each gallon of fuel, encompassing vehicle spec’ing, maintenance, performance monitoring and driver behavior. Volvo introduced Fuelwatch at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

A major element of Fuelwatch will be driver training.  Beginning in early 2009, Volvo will have driver trainers in each of its five sales regions to work directly with fleets and their drivers to teach how to increase fuel economy.

The tremendous rise in the price of diesel is the most significant challenge facing the trucking industry today.  Volvo long ago recognized the importance of exceptional fuel economy and has worked for decades to squeeze as many miles as possible out of every gallon of fuel.  These efforts have included the first aerodynamic truck design for conventional trucks (introduced 25 years ago in June 1983), as well as numerous engine and drivetrain innovations to improve fuel economy.  In addition, Volvo has developed other less obvious but very effective methods to improve fuel economy, involving hardware, software and information technology.  The end result of this intensive research is a wide-ranging body of knowledge that has been organized into Fuelwatch.

“Our customers are telling us ‘I want Volvo to give me the most fuel efficient truck possible.  We need every bit of help we can get’ to survive the escalation in diesel prices,” said Scott Kress, Volvo senior vice president – sales & marketing.  “But we realized we can give them far more than the truck.  Fuelwatch is our way to bring Volvo’s deep knowledge of fuel economy to customers in a way that delivers these benefits throughout the entire life and operation of their trucks.  Today we roll out the basic platform for this initiative.  We plan to introduce additional aspects of Fuelwatch moving forward.  Using less fuel is good for customers and it’s also good for the environment.

“Based on Volvo’s experience, customers who fully utilize the Fuelwatch tools and techniques can significantly lower their operating costs, by addressing the critical areas that affect fuel economy,” said Kress.  “Fuelwatch allows customers to take the best specifications and use them most efficiently and most productively to drive success.

“We know from our experience, however, that even the best best-spec’d and maintained truck can deliver poor fuel economy if the driver lacks the knowledge and training to use it efficiently,” Kress said.  “The driver has the biggest impact – good or bad – on fuel economy.”

The Fuelwatch initiative has four major elements:
• Correct specifications.  Before the truck is even built, its components and design are precisely matched to its intended application.  Customers work with their Volvo Truck dealer and Volvo’s Predictor software tool to select the most fuel-efficient spec for the job, taking into consideration terrain, desired cruising speed, vehicle loading, application and other factors.  The goal is to ensure the right combination of all drivetrain components, including gear and axle ratios, transmission, and engine ratings to ensure optimal fuel economy, performance and productivity.  Volvo’s truck ordering system also helps select the most aerodynamic configuration for the truck.
• Maintaining for fuel savings.  Without proper maintenance, wear and tear on the truck, over time, drags down fuel economy and raises costs.  Fuelwatch helps Volvo customers keep up with scheduled preventive maintenance, which is critical.  Lack of proper attention to wheel alignment as well as fuel and cooling systems can each reduce fuel efficiency up to 3%, while air system losses can result in a 4% hit.  Tire pressure sensors and the ability to reprogram engine power ratings to match a change in application also contribute to better fuel economy. 
• Monitoring performance.   Volvo Link and Sentry allow fleet managers to monitor critical functions of the truck so they can identify and make adjustments to enhance fuel economy.  Volvo Link also provides access to services for optimizing operations, such as fuel tax reporting, vehicle location tracking and route planning.  And all customers gain uptime support through Sentry’s access to Volvo Action Service, a 24/7 roadside assistance program.  Volvo Link, with two years of Sentry service, is standard on all new Volvo trucks.
• Driver development.  Nothing has a greater impact on fuel economy than the driver.  In addition to the forthcoming driver training, Volvo offers drivers many aids.   As an integrated manufacturer of powertrains and trucks, Volvo is able to provide very sophisticated assistance to drivers in a straightforward way.  In fact, Volvo’s Performance Guide is a ride-along “coach” that tells the driver how to operate the engine for maximum fuel economy.  Performance Guide is visible in the Driver Instrument Display and uses icons to guide the driver on correct RPM, acceleration and staying in the engine’s “sweet spot”.  This can be combined with Volvo’s Performance Bonus to provide the driver with incentives for maximizing time in the sweet spot.

“We think the days of inexpensive fuel are over, and the trucking industry must adapt to this new reality,” said Kress.  “Fuelwatch is not a switch that fleets can throw or a part they can bolt on a truck.  This is a partnership between Volvo, our customers and our dealers involving a comprehensive approach to improving fuel economy tailored to the individual customer.  We’re confident the Fuelwatch process will play an important role in their success.”

Fuelwatch also builds upon Volvo’s experience with programs such as the SmartWay certification program for fuel-efficient trucks.  Given Volvo’s long tradition of aerodynamics, it’s not surprising that 78% of all Volvo VNL sleepers sold in 2007 met the SmartWay requirements for aerodynamics.  Kress stressed this is only the initial phase of Fuelwatch.

“Volvo’s development of the Fuelwatch initiative, along with our decision to use Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to meet the 2010 emissions regulations due to SCR’s superior fuel economy, demonstrates that our customers should look to Volvo for leadership when it comes to maximizing fuel economy,” Kress said.  “Our driver training program will take them further on each gallon, using the best driving techniques.  We also plan to introduce fuel management programs for customers, so they can use our extended services to more efficiently manage how they use their trucks.  In the end, it’s about standing side-by-side with our customers in squeezing every possible mile out of every gallon of fuel.”  

Volvo Trucks North America’s operations and products are guided by the company’s three core values:  Safety, Quality and Environmental Care.  The Volvo VT, VN and VHD trucks are assembled in the United States at the New River Valley Plant in Dublin, Virginia, while Volvo engines for North America are assembled in Hagerstown, Maryland.  Both plants are certified to ISO14001 environmental and ISO9001 quality standards.  Volvo also sponsors America’s Road Team, a 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 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 U.S.

August 21, 2008

Volvo Trucks North America today (Aug. 21, 2008) unveiled its Fuelwatch process to help fleet managers and truck operators achieve maximum fuel efficiency.  Fuelwatch is a comprehensive approach to fuel efficiency, encompassing vehicle spec’ing, maintenance, operations and driver behavior.

For further information, please contact Jim McNamara, Volvo Trucks North America, phone 336-393-2143, email james.mcnamara@volvo.com