New shock absorption, more powerful damper springs and a completely new chassis – three reasons handling has taken a huge leap forwards.
It’s noticeable from the very first bend. The new Volvo FH reacts quickly and exactly. The driver receives continual feedback about how it’s holding the road. It gives a strong feeling of precision and control.
“The difference between driving a truck and driving a car has never been smaller,’’ says Stefan Axelsson, who leads the group at Volvo that developed the new handling qualities.
Something that’s often forgotten when we talk about handling is how it affects the driver’s effectivity and, in turn, the haulage company’s viability.
“Good handling properties make driving less strenuous. This helps the driver to stay alert and drive safely,’’ says Stefan Axelson. “Apart from this, a sharp driver is a better representative for the company when arriving with the customer’s delivery.’’
Many of the improvements are about geometry. Shock absorbers and chassis parts have been given new angles, making the chassis more robust.
“The difference between driving a truck and a car has never been smaller”
“One example is the suspension springs at the rear of the cab. These have moved apart by 25 cm, which increases the yaw damping by more than 50%,’’ says Stefan Axelsson.
Another important advance is the rear suspension, which previously conveyed the shock from the wheels up into the chassis. “Now the shock absorbers have a new angle that transfers the energy up to the trailer instead,’’ says Stefan Axelsson. Similar adjustments have been made in several areas of the FH, which has been given more powerful suspension springs. Altogether this has improved core stability significantly.
Even steering stability has improved. This means you can choose your line through a twisting road and then just hold the wheel in place until it’s time to straighten up.
“The real test of a truck’s handling comes when you meet another truck head-on in a bend at 80 km/h. In this truck it’s no problem,’’ says Stefan Axelsson.
There’s still work to do before we reach the handling qualities of a modern car, but according to Stefan Axelsson, Volvo is close. “Yes, we’re getting there. In many ways the new FH is already a sporty truck.’’