Eliminating harmful emissions from HGVs is a long-term goal which all major manufacturers share, although some are pursuing it more strongly than others.
One firm which has made significant commitments to reducing fuel consumption, improving sustainability and lowering costs for operators is Renault Trucks, which this week pulled back the curtains on its latest efficiency-oriented project.
The Flexible and Aerodynamic Truck for Low Consumption, which is otherwise known as the FALCON, is a scheme that is being developed to ensure that the tractor and trailer of a typical articulated HGV can work together to create less of an impact on fuel use over long distances.
The first rendering of the truck has appeared this week, with the intention being to improve efficiency by up to 13 per cent, according to Transport Engineer. This saving is made in comparison with any current-generation Range T model, meaning that Renault Trucks is competing against its own benchmarks to make progress.
Aerodynamics are the Key
At the top of the agenda for achieving this is the aerodynamic profile of the truck and trailer, allowing air to flow freely around them and reducing disruption to reduce fuel consumption. Furthermore, the engineers will be working to create tyres which have lower levels of rolling resistance than modern equivalents.
These passive design changes will be aided further through alteration to more active elements of the truck, such as the engine and transmission. The aim is to let less fuel go to waste by wringing every last drop of energy out of the diesel that is burned on board.
The first demonstration vehicle from the FALCON project is scheduled to make its debut appearance before the end of next year, with Renault Trucks announcing its intention to test it on public roads to prove that it can live up to expectations. This is an important step in an age when many buyers have become distrustful of efficiency figures and emissions ratings gleaned from lab tests alone.
Company spokesperson Francois Savoye explained that another of the ideas behind the FALCON project was to make it possible for truck buyers to recoup their initial investment in a more efficient tractor and trailer combination within two years. He pointed out that previous projects of this kind have generally led to enhancements for the firm’s mainstream models, so this is not simply a promotional prototype without real-world applications.
The final testing of the FALCON truck will be completed by 2020, at which point it will also have been used by regulators at the EU to further determine the shape of rulings which govern acceptable emissions levels in the HGV marketplace.
A variety of other organisations are collaborating with Renault Trucks in order to turn this truck from a simple image into a physical reality, although most of the technology will come from the French manufacturer’s existing models. The Range T in particular is already a good example of how far trucks can be pushed to become more eco-friendly without sacrificing performance.