Volvo hybrid truck breaks world speed record

Volvo hybrid truck Mean GreenBig rigs are not known for being fast, or fuel efficient, and the engineers at Volvo apparently viewed that as a challenge. The Swedish company built a one-off diesel hybrid truck, nicknamed “Mean Green,” that recently set a world speed record. At 236.5 kph (147 mph), this is the world’s fastest hybrid truck. The record was certified by the United States Auto Club, a division of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the international sanctioning body for auto racing.

Admittedly, there are not many other hybrid big rigs around; Mean Green was actually racing itself. The truck set the previous world record, 135.9 mph, in June 2011 at Hultsfred Airport, Sweden. Still, getting a big commercial truck to go 147 mph is a pretty impressive feat.

To get Mean Green to achieve those speeds, almost every aspect of the truck needed to be modified. A quick glance reveals that Mean Green is no ordinary truck; the bodywork was completely altered to make it lighter and more aerodynamic. Nonetheless, Volvo says the chassis underneath the slick body is from a stock VN tractor.

Mean Green’s powertrain is definitely not stock. It consists of a diesel inline-six engine and an electric motor. The system produces a combined 2,100 horsepower and 5,000 pound-feet of torque. The electric motor alone produces 200 hp and 885 lb-ft.

Taking a truck to insane speeds required more than a special vehicle, it also required a special location. Wendover Airfield in Utah gave Mean Green plenty of room to run. However, Utah’s high altitude was a problem in its own right. “We knew Wendover would present challenges because it’s more than 4,200 feet (1,280 meters) above sea level,” said Boije Ovebrink, Mean Green’s owner and driver. To compensate for the thinner air and help prevent overheating, we reduced the truck’s power by nearly 20 percent. Even with the reduction in total output potential, Mean Green had ample power to surpass the previous records.”

Mean Green is an impressive machine, but why do through the effort to build it? After all, most truck drivers don’t break speed records. This particular truck won’t be in showrooms soon, but its development gave Volvo a chance to dabble with hybrid powertrains. “Mean Green’s incredible performance underscores the strong potential of hybrid drivelines when applied to the right operation,” said Ron Huibers, Volvo Trucks president of North American Sales & Marketing. If a hybrid is durable enough to set records, it should be durable enough to haul freight.

Right now, Mean Green is more of a publicity stunt than a business plan, but hopefully that will change. Long-haul trucks ply the world’s roads even when commuters are asleep, so reducing trucks’ emissions and fuel consumption could make a big impact. After all, almost everything travels on a truck at one point. Those trucks don’t move as fast as Mean Green, but the concept is still the same.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

The best compact cars pack full-size features in fun-size packages

The best compact cars on the market rival their counterparts in many ways, proving that bigger isn’t always better. Here, we've rounded up some of the better options available, including an SUV and an electric alternative.
Mobile

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Cars

What’s next for in-car entertainment? Audi believes it knows

Audi is bringing two technologies to CES 2019. The first turns a car -- a luxury sedan, in this case -- into a drive-in movie theater. The second is presented as a new entertainment format that turns the journey into the destination.
Product Review

The all-new 3 Series proves BMW can still build a compelling sport sedan

Seat time in the entry-level BMW 330i ($41,425) and M340i xDrive ($54,995) will test the German automaker’s commitment to driving dynamics, powertrain refinement, and cutting edge technology.
Cars

California wants all-electric public bus fleet on its roads by 2040

California approved a regulation that targets an all-electric public bus fleet for the whole state by 2040. The effect of the full implementation of the regulation is equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the road.
Mobile

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Cars

1,000-mph Bloodhound supersonic car project finds a last-minute savior

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has found a buyer. The project was going to be disbanded after running out of funds, but its assets were purchased by British businessman Ian Warhurst.
Cars

Ford’s prototype Quiet Kennel uses noise-canceling tech to keep dogs stress-free

Ford is ending 2018 by venturing into the doghouse market. The company's European division has built a kennel equipped with active noise-canceling technology and soundproof walls that help dogs sleep through fireworks.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.
Cars

Lincoln revives its coolest-ever design feature for limited-edition Continental

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.
Product Review

Ford’s reincarnated Ranger feels like a car that does everything a truck can do

The 2019 Ford Ranger aims to be a tool for weekend adventures, and goes head-to-head with midsize pickup trucks from Chevrolet, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. Ford hasn’t sold the Ranger in the United States since 2011, so it has to make up…
Cars

Audi’s self-driving car unit teams up with Luminar to go driverless in 2021

Audi's self-driving car unit has teamed up with Luminar to develop and test autonomous technology. Luminar provides its lidar technology, which sees farther than the sensors offered by rivals, while Audi brings its own software.
Cars

Land Rover’s upcoming high-tech Defender will leave last-gen model in the dust

Land Rover is giving the Defender a full reboot. The original SUV was a rugged machine built to go anywhere. Its replacement will tick those boxes, too, but it will add a dose of technology and luxury.