(April 5) A diesel-electric truck highlights a series of recent moves by one of the world’s largest truck manufacturers to invest in technologies that lower emissions and decrease reliance on oil.

In March, AB Volvo, Gothenburg, Sweden, announced plans to install hybrid engines in some of its Class 8 trucks and other large vehicles. According to a company news release, the hybrids could save users up to 35% in fuel costs.

“There is a growing interest in the market to reduce fuel consumption,” Volvo’s president and chief executive officer, Leif Johansson, said in the release. “Many customers are seriously reviewing how they can contribute to reduce the dependency on oil.”

The I-SAM technology that will power the hybrid converts energy generated when the vehicle brakes into usable engine energy, charging the unit’s electric generator. The technology generates enough battery energy to start and accelerate even heavy vehicles to an appropriate speed without assistance from the vehicle’s diesel engine.

I-SAM also creates less vehicle noise than a conventional engine.

Volvo’s other environmentally friendly initiatives include trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology and a new line of fuel-efficient engines.

The company showcased its idle-reduction technology at the Mid-America Trucking Show on March 23-25 in Louisville, Ken. Volvo has installed mobile idle-reduction technology units made by Cummins and Mechron Power Systems on two of the trucks made by its Volvo Trucks North America division.

Both units come equipped with an onboard 120 volt AC generator, eliminating the need for the truck’s engine to idle for power. The Mechron unit also features an AC-powered heating/ventilation/air conditioning system for use when the truck’s engine is stopped.

Volvo recently was awarded a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership to develop a factory-installed prep kit to make the mounting of anti-reduction systems easier and less expensive. Volvo is developing the technology with North Carolina State University’s North Carolina Solar Center.

Volvo’s new line of 2007 heavy-duty diesel truck engines are designed to deliver excellent fuel economy, reliability, durability and driving performance, according to a Volvo Trucks North America news release.

The three new engines —the 11-liter D11, the 13-liter D13 and the 16-liter D16 — also have been designed to meet new EPA emissions standards that go into effect in 2007.

To meet the new standards, the three 2007 engines feature high-performance cooled exhaust gas recirculation and diesel particulate filters.

The engines also come equipped with ultrahigh fuel injection pressure systems, which raise maximum fuel injection pressures to up to 20% higher rates than earlier Volvo engine models. High fuel injection pressures improve fuel atomization and dispersal in the cylinder, creating more efficient combustion and lower emissions.

The three 2007 engines also have higher peak cylinder pressures, which allow engines to squeeze more energy out of each drop of fuel, according to Volvo.