GREENSBORO, NC --- Volvo Trucks North America has unveiled its Fuelwatch initiative to help fleet managers and truck operators improve fuel economy.

Fuelwatch is a comprehensive approach to get the most out of each gallon of fuel, encompassing vehicle spec’ing, maintenance, performance monitoring and driver behavior, the company said. Volvo introduced Fuelwatch at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

A major element of Fuelwatch will be driver training. Beginning in early 2009, Volvo will have driver trainers in each of its five sales regions to work directly with fleets and their drivers to teach how to increase fuel economy.

"Based on Volvo's experience, customers who fully utilize the Fuelwatch tools and techniques can significantly lower their operating costs by addressing the critical areas that affect fuel economy," said Scott Kress, Volvo senior vice president for sales and marketing. 

The Fuelwatch initiative has four major elements:

• Correct specifications.  Before the truck is even built, its components and design are precisely matched to its intended application. Customers work with their Volvo Truck dealer and Volvo's Predictor software tool to select the most fuel-efficient spec for the job, taking into consideration terrain, desired cruising speed, vehicle loading, application and other factors.  The goal is to ensure the right combination of all drivetrain components, including gear and axle ratios, transmission and engine ratings to ensure optimal fuel economy, performance and productivity. Volvo's truck ordering system also helps select the most aerodynamic configuration for the truck.

• Maintaining for fuel savings.  Without proper maintenance, wear and tear on the truck, over time, drags down fuel economy and raises costs.  Fuelwatch helps Volvo customers keep up with scheduled preventive maintenance, which is critical. Lack of proper attention to wheel alignment as well as fuel and cooling systems can each reduce fuel efficiency up to 3 percent, while air system losses can result in a 4 percent hit. Tire pressure sensors and the ability to reprogram engine power ratings to match a change in application also contribute to better fuel economy. 

• Monitoring performance. Volvo Link and Sentry allow fleet managers to monitor critical functions of the truck so they can identify and make adjustments to enhance fuel economy. Volvo Link also provides access to services for optimizing operations, such as fuel tax reporting, vehicle location tracking and route planning. And all customers gain uptime support through Sentry's access to Volvo Action Service, a 24/7 roadside assistance program. Volvo Link, with two years of Sentry service, is standard on all new Volvo trucks.

• Driver development. Nothing has a greater impact on fuel economy than the driver. In addition to the forthcoming driver training, Volvo offers drivers many aids. As an integrated manufacturer of powertrains and trucks, Volvo can provide sophisticated assistance to drivers in a straightforward way. In fact, Volvo's Performance Guide is a ride-along "coach" that tells the driver how to operate the engine for maximum fuel economy. Performance Guide is visible in the driver instrument display and uses icons to guide the driver on correct RPM, acceleration and staying in the engine's "sweet spot."  This can be combined with Volvo's Performance Bonus to provide the driver with incentives for maximizing time in the sweet spot.

"We think the days of inexpensive fuel are over, and the trucking industry must adapt to this new reality," said Kress. "Fuelwatch is not a switch that fleets can throw or a part they can bolt on a truck. This is a partnership between Volvo, our customers and our dealers involving a comprehensive approach to improving fuel economy tailored to the individual customer. We're confident the Fuelwatch process will play an important role in their success."