FH family - 2001
Perhaps no other truck in the history of road transport has had the same success as the FH-series, which was initially introduced in 1993 as the FH12 and the FH16. During a decade, more than 400,000 FH trucks have been sold. Twice (in 1994 and in 2000), the FH-series has received the coveted 'Truck of the Year' Award.
The FH12 and FH16
When the FH-series was presented in 1993, it was not only a new truck, but also introduced a series of new technologies which contributed to advantages in areas like fuel economy, environmental care and ergonomics together with superior active and passive safety.
Perhaps the most revolutionary of the individual components under the skin of the FH-series was the completely new 12-litre D12A engine (for the FH12). The FH16 was propelled by a revised version of the Volvo 16-litre engine, which had been presented six years earlier for the F16 truck.
Derived from 75 years of experience
The D12A was the first-ever truck engine to be developed for both North America and the rest of the world. It had been planned and engineered based on Volvo's experience as a truck manufacturer since 1928, and against the background of sales of heavy-duty trucks in the USA since 1974.
Never before had any European truck manufacturer produced a diesel engine with high-technology unit fuel injection and overhead camshaft in combination with four valves per cylinder (which contributed to better 'breathing'=higher efficiency/lower fuel consumption/decreased exhaust emissions). To increase the active safety, a unique Volvo-designed engine brake (VCB) was available as an integral part of the new D12A engine.
Cab design with aerodynamics in mind
The FH12 and the FH16 were in themselves revolutionary. The cab design was the most obvious feature. It had been designed for optimized driver comfort, maximum safety and low weight. The design of the cab had been made with aerodynamics in mind, to decrease fuel consumption, to maximize performance and to minimize interior and exterior noise.
The cab was available in three versions; short day cab, long sleeper cab and long sleeper cab with interior standing height ('Globetrotter'). Following customer demands for even greater interior space, the 'Globetrotter XL' cab was introduced in 1995.
The truck of the year - twice
In 1995, the Volvo FH became the first heavy-duty truck in the world to be equipped with a driver airbag, further increasing passive safety level. The chassis of the Volvo FH is available in thousands of various executions, with several wheelbase options, with different number of axles, with one, two or three axles driven.
In 1998/1999, revised versions of the FH trucks were introduced, revisions which were so revolutionary that the FH12 was awarded the Truck of the Year award for the second time in 2000 (the FH range had received this award already in 1994, following the introduction). The most important (and the least obvious) revision was the new D12C engine, which had been re-designed for increased performance, decreased fuel consumption, extended service life and superior environmental characteristics.
The D12C engine was prepared for forthcoming environmental legislation and was well in advance ready for the demanding Euro 3 demands, introduced in 2001.
The heavy-duty disc brakes
The 1998/1999 FH12 semitrailer tractor introduced Volvo's revolutionary electronically controlled heavy-duty disc brakes. The Volvo founders Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson in a very famous statement said that: 'Volvo does not make product changes for the sake of changing, but in order to improve the products, in the interest of the customers!'.
Never have this statement been more valid than for the product changes of the FH12 in 2001. To improve the aerodynamics of the cab and the efficiency of the headlights, the front end of the cab had been revised, at the same time as the most important news was found under the skin of the revised truck model.
Fitted with two turbochargers
The most powerful new feature of the FH12 was the D12D-500 engine with Turbocompound, which had not only one but two turbochargers, of which the second used the spare energy and transformed it into mechanical energy, thereby increasing performance and using every drop of diesel fuel in the most efficient way.
But Volvo was not content with only perfecting the first part of the 'Drivetrain', the engine. The most radical new feature of the FH12 in 2001 was the new Volvo-designed and Volvo-built 'I-shift' gearbox, which combined the compactness and lightness of an unsynchronized gearbox with the comfort, ergonomics and safety of the automatic gearbox. The I-shift is intended mainly for long-distance transport, while the Powertronic power-shift gearbox is the best option for construction-site trucks.
A choice for the new century
In 2001, production of the first version of the FH16 was cancelled, since Volvo decided that the 21st century demanded a more efficient, even more powerful and more environmental engine in the most powerful class. After two years of absence in the 'Plus 500-horsepower-class' Volvo introduced the new FH16, based on the FH12 but with a completely new 16-litre in-line 6-cylinder direct-injection diesel engine with overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder and electronic unit fuel injectors.
The new engine was, in fact, based on technologies already used and perfected in the 9- and 12-litre Volvo engines.
Simply the ultimate driving experience
The new FH16 is one of the most powerful trucks in the world, with up to 610 horsepower. It is intended for the most demanding transport operations, where maximum power and high average speed are two crucial factors, and where fuel efficiency, transport economy, maximum driver comfort and safety and environmental care cannot be sacrificed.