Big Green Hybrid Truck A Speed Demon

A hybrid truck will attempt to beat its own land speed record in Utah later this month.

Mean Green, the Volvo-built hybrid, will try to reach speeds in excess of 165 mph (260 km/h) when it takes to the runway at the Wendover Airfield on April 27.


Image via Volvo

The truck, which uses the same Volvo hybrid drive system powering hundreds of Volvo buses throughout the world, including London’s double-decker buses, already holds records in three separate distances.

Mean Green’s hybrid engine produces about 2,100 horsepower, 200 horsepower of which is generated by the electric motor. Aerodynamics also plays an important role in achieving high speeds and Volvo’s team of designers selected a North American VN cab from which they sculpted the optimal aerodynamic shape for the truck.

Boije Ovebrink, Mean Green’s owner and driver, said the electric motor meant that the truck could set off at a gallop, without any of the customary diesel-engine delay.

“It’s like a champagne cork, but without the sound effects. For the first couple of seconds the truck just makes a slight whistle until the diesel engine, which runs on renewable liquid rosin diesel, starts delivering with explosive force,” Ovebrink said in a statement.

The Mean Green Volvo currently holds records in the standing 500-meter distance, standing kilometer and flying kilometer. In the standing kilometer speed trial the truck starts off from a standstill, spanning the 1,000-meter course in one direction and then the other. The average speed from the two runs is noted as the official figure.

In building the Mean Green, which appeared recently at the Mid-America Trucking Show, Volvo’s team of hybrid technology experts had to adapt Volvo’s hybrid driveline to the chassis requirements of a world-class truck built for speed.

The performance of hybrid vehicles has made great strides in recent years, proving that going green doesn’t mean giving up an exhilarating drive. While hybrids generally are seen as slow and steady, luxury carmakers have produced some successful high performance vehicles and major auto shows now habitually feature the unveiling of yet another green super car using hybrid or electric car technology.

Currently, for example, one of the world’s fastest hybrid cars is the M35h, made by Infiniti. The car was crowned “World’s Fastest Accelerating Full Hybrid” car last fall, when the 360-horsepower gas/electric hybrid covered a standing quarter mile in just 13.9 seconds.

According to the company, the hybrid sports an advanced one-motor, two-clutch parallel hybrid design that brings together a 3.5-liter engine and a 50-kilowatt electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery to provide net power of 360 horsepower. The vehicle can drive on electric power alone at speeds up to 62 mph and can travel on electric propulsion for up to 1.2 miles at a time.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.


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