Ballots have been cast and the verdict is in. Volvo Trucks' XE13 powertrain package was the North American trucking industry's most significant technical innovation of 2011. The Truck Writers of North America (TWNA) presented Volvo Trucks with the 21st annual TWNA Technical Achievement Award during an award ceremony at the Technology Maintenance Council's spring meeting in Tampa, Florida.
"It's an incredible honor to be recognized by the Truck Writers of North America," said Ron Huibers, president, Volvo Trucks North American sales & marketing. "We truly appreciate their thorough evaluations of our XE13 package, a proprietary solution that provides just a glimpse at the future potential of Volvo Trucks' integrated powertrain."
First introduced in September 2011, Volvo Trucks' XE13 powertrain package boosts fuel efficiency by about three percent by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed, a concept Volvo calls "downspeeding."
"The benefits of "downspeeding" an engine are intuitive – lower engine rpm results in less fuel consumed – but virtually impossible to achieve without a perfectly harmonized powertrain." said Ed Saxman, Volvo Trucks product manager – powertrain. "The intelligence of the Volvo I-Shift and proprietary software used in the XE13 package has created an incredible paradigm shift, so we now see the transmission controlling the engine."
Available on Volvo VN series tractors, the XE13 powertrain package includes the following components:
- Volvo D13 engine with 425 or 455 horsepower rating and 1750 lb-ft of torque
- Volvo I-Shift overdrive transmission with a 0.78:1 ratio
- Axle ratios of 2.64 to 2.69
- Proprietary software that facilitates seamless communication between Volvo's integrated powertrain components.
"Volvo's XE13 powertrain package brings the concept of running slow to a new level," said James Menzies, TWNA Technical Achievement Award committee chair. "Several members of the committee have had the chance to drive a Volvo VN equipped with the new powertrain package and we were all very impressed with how it performed on the road."
The XE13 package consistently operates in the engine's "sweet spot" – 1050 rpm to 1500 rpm – with customer data indicating up to 70 percent of operation in the most efficient range of 1100 rpm to 1200 rpm. Operating in this range yields about a 1.5 percent fuel efficiency improvement for every 100 rpm of "downspeeding," so the XE13 package provides about a three percent fuel efficiency gain.
TWNA award committee member John Baxter said the XE13 concept "represents a sea-change in thinking as far as how the drivetrain is to be put together and could also drive a serious shift to automated transmissions in the future. It will certainly help to squeeze more energy out of each gallon of fuel."