What's the best thing about garbage trucks? They're loud. At least that's what you think when you're seven. But once you grow into your big-boy pants, that monstrosity slowly lumbering down your street, waking you up at 5AM every Tuesday, gets to be just a tad annoying after a while. Well, now Volvo has a solution, a hybrid garbage truck. They claim it can operate almost silently, and feel so confident about it they've provided a video of it in action. Currently the trucks are just being tested in select parts of Sweden, but we certainly wouldn't mind seeing these, and not hearing them, in our neighborhood. Press release after the jump.

The future of refuse handling is already here

Due to its productive personality, the Volvo FE has been recognized as a cost effective truck for city distribution and refuse handling. In 2009, the Volvo FE will be offered with a hybrid solution adding two main benefits: increased fuel efficiency and decreased emissions.

From a driver's perspective, the hybrid is also more pleasant to operate with excellent drivability characteristics and reduced noise levels.

A perfect fit for "stop and go" applications
Like the Volvo FM Hybrid, the Volvo FE Hybrid is equipped with a diesel engine and an electric motor. The latter powers the truck from startup and up to 20 km/h. At higher speeds, the diesel engine kicks in.

When the vehicles stops, the diesel engine automatically shuts down to avoid unnecessary idling.

Since braking energy is used to charge the lithium-ion batteries powering the electric motor, the greatest fuel saving potential is in applications with a lot of "stop and go" driving:
— up to 20% for refuse handling (up to 30% if the superstructure also rely on the electric motor)
— between 15-20% for city distribution

Low on emissions and close to noiseless
Any savings in fuel means equal savings in CO2 emissions, meaning that the Volvo FE Hybrid will contribute some 15 - 30% less to global warming.

The emissions of NOx and particulates are at zero level when the truck is operated in electric drive - and it is a very silent truck when accelerating and idling. These are both strong benefits when operating in sensitive urban areas.

Field test with customers
During 2008 and 2009, two Volvo FE Hybrids will run in daily refuse collection operations with the help of two Swedish companies.

The field test trucks are both prototype vehicles of the Volvo FE Hybrid that will be the commercial offer in 2009.

Volvo FE Hybrid Concept - Technical data
— Volvo FE with I-SAM (Integrated Starter Alternator Motor)
— Power 120 kW
— 7-litre diesel engine
— Volvo I-Shift gearbox

[Source: Volvo Trucks]