New Zealand driver wins on-road category of the Volvo Trucks Fuelwatch Challenge

Friday, September 22, 2017

Johnny Baxter from Temuka Transport has won the on-road category of the international Volvo Trucks Fuelwatch Challenge, with Korean driver Taehun Kim crowned the most fuel-efficient driver in the off-road category.

Contestants from more than 13 countries took part in the annual Fuelwatch Challenge in Gothenburg, the hometown of Volvo Trucks. The contestants drove FH or FMX trucks on a specific course, and the competition once again tested and rewarded some of the world’s best drivers in fuel-efficient driving.

The two-day event, which started with a session on driving technique, was the final showdown for national champions from local Fuelwatch competitions that took place throughout the year. More than 4,280 drivers participated in this year’s local competitions.

The performances of the 11 on-road and seven off-road competitors were evaluated using Dynafleet, Volvo Trucks’ online transport information system. Dynafleet software monitored fuel consumption in real time and was used to gather accurate information on each driver’s performance.

Introduced by Volvo Trucks, the Fuelwatch Challenge is an initiative that puts the spotlight on the driver. More than a competition, the Fuelwatch Challenge is a testament to the fact that skilled driving can have a direct impact on safety, fuel consumption, profitability, and carbon footprint. The results are a showcase for the opportunities driver development opens up for change and progress for drivers, haulage operators and society as a whole.

Baxter recorded 10.1% less fuel consumption compared with the two runners-up. In the off-road category, Kim captured the top prize with a notable achievement of approximately 4% less fuel consumption relative to the driver in second place.

At 27, Baxter was one of the youngest drivers participating in the competition.

“It feels just amazing being here this evening and take the top prize in a competition that included some of the world’s best drivers.”

Commenting on what it takes to be a champion, Kim said: “Giving it all each day and building up the right skills over time is key to coming out on top of this competition.”

Translated into a real-life context, the competition margins offer significant cost saving potential. For instance, during an average long haul operation of 150,000 kilometres, the on-road fuel efficiency margins could result in 46,500 fewer litres being used per truck each year.

Reflecting on the achievements of the winners, Heléne Mellquist, senior vice president of Volvo Trucks International, said: “The performances we have seen during this year’s Fuelwatch Challenge have re-affirmed our conviction that the role of a skillful driver is pivotal to better profitability for businesses and reduced impact on the environment. At Volvo Trucks our biggest commitment is to driving progress for our customers, our industry and society as a whole. Drivers are, without a doubt, an integral part of this commitment. We will continue to help them excel in their profession and get the most out of our trucks.”

In addition to winning the title, Baxter and Kim also get an exclusive travel experience to one of the stopovers of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The combined fuel savings of the winners in each category was recorded to be more than 15%, underscoring the important role fuel-efficient driving can play in generating real-life cost savings and reducing carbon footprint.