Acting Under Secretary of Energy Arun Majumdar recently joined with North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble (NC-6) to tour the Volvo Group's truck headquarters in Greensboro, NC, and highlight the blueprint for an America built to last laid out by President Obama in his State of the Union address earlier this week. The Department of Energy is partnering with companies like the Volvo Group to help harness American ingenuity to commercialize and deploy cutting-edge trucking technologies that will help boost the competitiveness of the U.S. auto and manufacturing industry, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create jobs for American workers.
"Earlier this week in his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined a blueprint for a stronger American economy based on a resurgence in American manufacturing and innovations in the way we use energy," says Dr. Majumdar. "Companies like the Volvo Group that are pursuing energy efficiency in their operations, putting Americans to work, and building more fuel-efficient vehicles underscore how investments in clean energy technology are helping to secure America's future economic prosperity."
In partnership with the Energy Department, the Volvo Group is helping to lead the industry to advance innovative clean energy vehicle technologies and energy-efficient manufacturing. Through the department's SuperTruck program, the Volvo Group was awarded $19 million—which the company is matching dollar for dollar—to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles like the Mack and Volvo Trucks. Volvo Group has also embraced manufacturing efficiency as part of the DOE's Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, pledging to reduce the energy intensity of its manufacturing plants with assistance and guidance from the Energy Department. These steps to become more energy-efficient will reduce operating costs at the facility, improving the competitiveness of the company's products and manufacturing plants.
Dr. Majumdar and Congressman Coble were hosted by Dennis Slagle, Executive Vice President of Volvo Group Trucks Sales & Marketing—Americas, on the tour of the Volvo Group's Technical Center, which is in the midst of an $8 million expansion.
The Volvo Group's award was one of four Energy Department-sponsored SuperTruck development projects, which focus on increasing the fuel efficiency of Class 8 trucks—better known as 18-wheelers—by 50%. To achieve this goal, companies like the Volvo Group are developing and improving vehicle technologies in engine efficiency, aerodynamics, waste heat recovery, and hybridization, among other approaches. Through the SuperTruck program, the Energy Department expects fuel economy increases from 6.5 miles per gallon to 9.75 miles per gallon—saving long-haul truckers more than $15,000 per truck per year in fuel costs.
Class 8 trucks represent only 4% of the on-road vehicles in America, but are responsible for almost 20% of the country's on-road fuel consumption. Implementation of SuperTruck technologies will not only lessen the nation's dependence on petroleum, but also improve the global competitiveness of U.S. truck manufacturers.
While Volvo is building more efficient vehicles, the company is also improving the energy efficiency of the manufacturing plants that make them. In December 2009, the company joined the Department of Energy's Save Energy Now LEADER initiative, now known as the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, to begin an ambitious effort to significantly reduce the energy intensity of its operations as a way to increase competitiveness. Since then, Volvo's New River Valley plant, located in Dublin, VA, has implemented a range of measures with guidance from the department's technical experts that reduced its energy intensity by almost 30% in just one year. Embracing energy efficiency measures helped Volvo cut costs and keep operations—and jobs—for its truck manufacturing business here in the United States.