Volvo to develop prototype lightweight composite sleepers

Volvo Trucks North America will develop lightweight prototype sleepers made with advanced composite material technology as part of a U.S. Army program to reduce the weight and improve fuel economy of trucks.
The project, part of the Army’s Military and Commercial Truck Weight Reduction Program, calls for Volvo and program partner TPI Composites, Inc., Scottsdale, Arizona, to design, build and test prototype truck sleepers.  Funding for the program was secured by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (RI).  The project was announced today, June 17, during a news conference at TPI’s Warren, Rhode Island facility.

Because of their generally lighter weight, the use of composite components can improve truck fuel economy and thus reduce CO2 emissions.  TPI’s advanced processes yield components that are even lighter and stronger than composite components formed using traditional methods.  In addition, composite materials resist corrosion, insulate better and may provide a quieter sleeping environment for resting drivers. 

“This project allows Volvo to explore the benefits of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques for military vehicles and commercial freight operations,” said Scott Kress, Volvo senior vice president – sales and marketing.  “Volvo is an innovative and technologically adept company, with global resources, which makes us a great partner for this project.  We also have a history of working with federal agencies on cutting-edge technologies, such as our work with the U.S. Department of Energy on alternative drivelines and fuels, and vehicle aerodynamics.”

Three sleeper cabs will be produced as part of the project, with the first to be delivered in late 2009.  The project is slated to run for 21 months, with Volvo and TPI sharing the $2.5 million funding.  Volvo Technology Corp., an advanced research and development unit of the Volvo Group, will coordinate the research for Volvo.

The sleeper cabs will consist of three pieces:  a one-piece composite sleeper, a composite roof and Volvo’s highly engineered steel cab, modified to attach to the composite sleeper.  Testing will include the “cab shaker,” in which a full-size cab and sleeper, complete with all interior fittings, is attached to a large hydraulic device.  The cab shaker subjects the cab and sleeper to prolonged violent shaking, to test their durability and integrity.  The shaker is a standard part of Volvo’s product development and testing.

One of the three cabs will also be subjected to the Swedish Impact Test, the most severe truck cab crash test in the world.  This procedure has three components, and tests the ability of the cab and sleeper to protect occupants in the event of a rollover and other severe accidents.  Every Volvo truck around the world must pass this test.  This test is one of the reasons why Volvo trucks are world-famous for their safety.

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 US.

June 17, 2008

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

Volvo Trucks North America will develop three-piece lightweight prototype sleeper cabs made with advanced composite material technology from TPI Composites, Inc. as part of a U.S. Army program to reduce weight and improve fuel economy of trucks.