The Volvo-Powered Electric Fire Truck Becomes Hybrid, BMW Gets Involved

The early modern days of electric vehicles gave birth to a series of fears advertised by would-be owners, but mostly by people who wanted nothing to do with the phenomena and were glad to put a nail in the EV's coffin.
Rosenbauer RT 8 photos
Volvo Penta & Rosenbauer Concept Fire TruckVolvo Penta & Rosenbauer Concept Fire TruckVolvo Penta & Rosenbauer Concept Fire TruckRosenbauer RTRosenbauer RTRosenbauer RTRosenbauer RT
The first one, of course, was the fear of electrocution. You sat inches away from high voltage cables, so surely you were one unfortunate accident away from having your seat turned into an electrocution chair, right?

While that myth was being debunked, reports of EV batteries catching fire started circulating on the web. Smartphone batteries exploding didn't help either, so soon enough the fear of electrocution was quickly replaced by the equally terrifying fear of catching fire.

EVs have been proven not to be any more prone to sudden combustion than any other type of vehicle (ask any Lamborghini owner), but the image of smoldering EVs stuck with the public. Nothing better than an electric fire engine, then, to wash it away with its high-power water cannon.

Enter Volvo Penta and Rosenbauer, the two companies behind the Concept Fire Truck (CFT). Well, make that three now that BMW has also been recruited to provide a diesel engine. Wait, what? Yes, after years of development, the Rosenbauer CFT has now become the Rosenbauer RT, with RT standing for "Revolutionary Technology."

It would appear the tests carried out so far revealed the need for an onboard range extender, and despite the fact Volvo Penta has been providing Rosenbauer fire trucks with diesel engines for years, the company decided to use a BMW-sourced one for some reason.

The name change also brought a new look for the fire truck which now has a more familiar red overall theme. The release date for the giant (mostly) battery-powered mobile fire extinguisher hasn't changed, which means we should still see it in operation starting next year.

Now that the RT is no longer a concept vehicle, but a technical prototype, Rosenbauer also released more details about the truck's technical specs, so here goes: the truck uses two electric motors with 350 kW (470 hp) of power each sipping from two batteries with a combined capacity of 200 kWh. When that's not enough, there's also the BMW diesel-powered range extender we talked about earlier acting as a safety net. After all, you don't want to run out of juice in the middle of a fire with no plugs around.

The RT has some other great features that will make it a very versatile fire-fighting vehicle. For instance, it's got rear-axle steering, which means the already compact truck will be even more maneuverable. Thanks to its dual-motor setup, it also gets permanent all-wheel-drive, and if you combine that with its adjustable ground clearance (between 175 and 350 mm - or 6.9 to 13.8 inches), there are very few places the RT won't be able to reach.

The three working prototypes will be put through their paces over the coming months, and assuming everything goes to plan, they will be handed over to the first three customers: the Berlin Fire Department, the Brandweer Amsterdam, and the Dubai Civil Defense. As we've said, larger-scale deliveries will commence next year.

press release

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