The world’s most powerful truck. Here’s how it came about.

Raise engine power, lower emissions and maintain fuel consumption at the same level as before. That was the brief that Volvo Trucks’ engineers were given in spring 2006. They had three years to develop the world’s most powerful truck without compromising on either emission requirements or fuel economy.

With its 700 hp and 3150 Nm, the Volvo FH16 is the most powerful commercially produced truck in the world. Its D16G engine builds further on Volvo’s previous 660 hp 16-litre engine. It has been given another 40 horsepower to ensure that Volvo Trucks is the first truck manufacturer to break the 700 hp barrier.

Power and torque are all very well, but the really big achievement is that Volvo’s engine designers have succeeded in combining this increased engine power with lower emissions and unchanged fuel economy.

“Simply increasing engine power output is one thing, but doing so without raising emissions or fuel consumption is a far more difficult task,” says Henrik Lindeberg, Chief Project Manager for the new D16G engine.

A classic dilemma
One absolute requirement was that the new truck should meet Euro 5, the European emission regulation that come into force on October 1, 2009. This meant that nitrogen oxide emissions had to be cut by just over 40 percent.

Volvo’s engine experts thus faced a classic dilemma: in order to reduce fuel consumption, it is important to make the combustion process as efficient as possible. However, this has the downside of increasing the engine’s emissions of nitrogen oxides. And in order to deal with that, it was necessary to expand the capacity of the exhaust after-treatment system. Developing and improving an engine is largely about creating an optimised solution, from fuel injection all the way to exhaust pipe, in which each and every measure must be considered very carefully to ensure that the finished product is as good as possible.

Extreme tests
The project group behind the new engine worked for three years to develop, test and evaluate various solutions. From concept to prototypes, lab analyses and field tests. Since the Volvo FH16 is built for the very heaviest and most demanding of haulage tasks, the field tests were conducted in operating environments that offer tough, some would say extreme, conditions.

“The new Volvo FH16 has hauled heavy road trains through Australia’s deserts, carried timber in northern Sweden and operated in severe cold and was tested at altitudes of up to 3600 metres in the Rocky Mountains,” relates Henrik Lindeberg.

Project reaches its goal
So how did it all go? The results speak for themselves. The project group handled the task brilliantly. The Volvo FH16 has not only become the world’s most powerful truck, it also meets the Euro 5 requirements. And, not least, it offers highly competitive fuel economy.