Two pieces of world news lift road handling to an even higher level. With independent suspension and rack and pinion steering the Volvo FH has gained qualities that have previously only been available in passenger cars.
A truck on a narrow and uneven road can be hard to keep on track. “A car on the same road is often easier to handle. The driver sits much lower and has greater margins,” says Niklas Fröjd, vehicle dynamics specialist at Volvo. The car has another advantage – individual suspension. Each car wheel has an axle of its own, so it can roll independently of the others.
“On the truck each pair of wheels has to share an axle. So one wheel affects the other wheel’s movement to a great extent,” explains Niklas Fröjd. The new Volvo FH evens things out a bit. Opt for Volvo’s new Individual Front Suspension (IFS) and you get road handling qualities above and beyond any other heavy goods vehicle.
“The feeling of driving a car comes standard with all new Volvo FH trucks. But IFS takes it a step further. The truck sways even less in curves and it cuts through the straight stretches like an arrow, even if the road is bumpy,” says Niklas Fröjd.
“With IFS the truck sways even less in curves”
Even sharper handling
IFS is a precondition for the other piece of world news in heavy trucks – rack and pinion steering. Dominant in the car industry, this technology improves the feeling of control over steering and road contact. When you turn the steering wheel on a vehicle with rack and pinion steering the wheels respond immediately. “The difference between driving a truck and driving a car has never been smaller,” says Stefan Axelsson, who leads the group at Volvo that fine-tuned 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 company’s viability. “Good handling properties make driving less of a strain. This helps the driver to stay alert and drive safely,” says Stefan Axelsson. “Apart from this, a sharp driver is a better representative for the company when arriving with the customer’s delivery.
Every new Volvo FH has improved stability and handling precision
Enhanced roll stability of the cab and well-balanced damping for cab and chassis alike. These are the main factors behind the 50 percent improvement to roll stability that can be experienced in all new FH cabs.
“One example is the suspension springs at the rear of the cab. These have been moved apart by 25 cm, which increases the roll stability of the cab considerably,” says Stefan Axelsson. The increased stability of the cab combined with new geometry and improved design of front and rear suspension also result in better directional stability for the new truck.
All this gives the driver a greater feeling of precision and control, making progress on the road safer and less tiring. “Everyone who has been involved in developing the new road handling qualities is really proud of the result,” says Niklas Fröjd and Stefan Axelsson.