There is something deeply unsettling about approaching a corner at well over 150 km/h while seated roughly one floor above ground level, particularly if you're in the passenger seat. During South Africa’s brief flirtation with truck racing several years back, I experienced just that – fortunately, with a suitably competent racing driver at the wheel – so I can relate just a little to how it must have felt to pilot Volvo’s Mean Green hybrid truck to a world speed record.
Mean Green doesn’t have to go around corners. All it needs to do is maintain a straight line – faster than any comparable vehicle. And that’s precisely what it did in establishing new world speed records on April 27 at Wendover Airfield in Utah in the USA.
Mean Green clocked a Flying Kilometre average of 236,577 km/h and reached a top speed of 153,252 in the Standing Kilometre. Last year the vehicle reached 218,780 km/h in the flying kilometre and 152,253 km/h in the standing kilometre at Hultsfred Airport in Sweden.
Motoring's international governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), still has to ratify the records.
According to Volvo, Mean Green’s aerodynamic bodyshell covers a Volvo VN cab and frame and mostly standard production components (albeit with a highly modified drivetrain). The combination of an electric motor and Volvo D16 diesel engine delivers 1 570 kW and nearly 6,780 N.m. Of that, the electric motor provides about 150 kW and 1 200 N.m. Drive to the wheels is via a modified version of Volvo's automated IShift gearbox.
To watch a video of the Mean Green record attempt, click here.