A Volvo truck has set a new speed record for big rigs, maintaining the Swedish truck manufacturer’s position as the builder of the fastest semi-truck.
In a run late last month, the 2,400-horsepower Iron Knight custom truck driven by European truck racing champion Boije Ovebrink set the new world record for the 500-meter and 1,000-meter acceleration for trucks — .31 and .62 of a mile, respectively. The truck reached those speeds from a standing start.
While engineering big rigs to speed like a Porsche may seem like a stunt, such an effort has important technology and marketing benefits.
“It brings positive attention to the industry,” said John Blodgett, vice president of MacKay & Co. consulting.
Such an endeavor “involves development and testing of new ideas that may someday add to the performance or safety of Volvo trucks,” Blodgett said.
Technology in the Iron Knight will find its way into Volvo’s regular trucks, said Claes Nilsson, chief executive of Volvo Trucks.
“The Iron Knight is the perfect way to showcase the competence and innovative power of Volvo Trucks. At the same time, our aim was to generate new insights into technical and design solutions,” Nilsson said.
At an average speed of 91.58 mph (131.29 km/h), the Iron Knight completed the 500-meter dash in a scant 13.71 seconds.
The 1,000-meter run took Ovebrink and the Iron Knight up to 105.012 mph (169 km/h) and finished in a mere 21.29 seconds from a standing start.
“Volvo Trucks’ the Iron Knight can be summarized in one single word: perfection. It’s beautiful to look at and is an unparalleled powerhouse when you floor the accelerator,” Ovebrink said. “This is the third record-breaking truck I’ve driven, and I can’t think of a better follow-up to Wild Viking and Mean Green.”
The Iron Knight’s achievement is particularly impressive when taking into account the weight of the purpose-built truck: 4.5 tons, or 9,000 pounds. Having 4,425.4 pound-feet of torque and the 2,400 horsepower will get a large object moving swiftly.
Specialists from many departments within Volvo Trucks operations worked closely together to engineer and build the record-breaker.
“Apart from Volvo Trucks’ powertrain, which is the heart and soul of the Iron Knight, we’ve hand-built the truck from the ground up,” said Olof Johansson, a technician at Volvo Trucks.
Volvo equipped the D13 truck engine with four turbochargers and a water-cooled intercooler to keep everything running smoothly. The vehicle uses a Volvo I-Shift Dual Clutch transmission, the same transmission that is available on the production FH truck.
The drivetrain isn’t the only thing Volvo fiddled with to make this world record run a success. It also completely redesigned the Fiberglass cab of the truck for aerodynamics, included side skirts that help deliver air to the engine and more.
“The cab is … designed to cut air resistance to an absolute minimum. The side skirts give the truck an impressive stance with their large air ducts that supply the engine with cooling air,” said Nigel Atterbury, senior designer at Volvo Trucks.
“The Iron Knight has an attractive and powerful design inspired by today’s Volvo FH,” he said. “You just have to look at the vehicle to realize that this is a truly fast truck. Even when it’s at a standstill it looks like it’s on the move.”
This isn’t the first time that Volvo has broken world records with its trucks.
In 2007, Ovebrink took Volvo’s 1,600-horsepower Wild Viking to 98.7 mph (158.8 km/h) in a former world record run to 1,000 meters, and he drove the 1,800-horsepower Volvo NH D16 against the same record at 103 mph (166.7 km/p) in 2010.
This is Volvo’s fourth truck speed world record since 2000.
The Iron Knight’s world record runs were completed at the Skellefteå Drive Center, a former airfield in Northern Sweden, and are currently under review by FIA — an international motorsports and automobile club officiating body — for approval.