Volvo truck, N7, N10 and N12 - 1970

N7, N10 and N12

In the 1960s, the F truck (without a bonnet, with the engine under the cab) became more and more dominant in European and global heavy-duty transport. This was a trend particularly set by a leading German manufacturer that wanted to rationalise the manufacture of its trucks due to the dominance of F trucks in Germany.

For the two Swedish manufacturers, each with a major part of the sales in every area of the world outside their home market, it was natural to continue to offer 'conventional' trucks (as they are called in North America and elsewhere) of modern design.

The future of the N truck
In the late 1960s, Volvo faced large investments. The N trucks (N86 and N88) were in design terms almost unchanged since 1951 (when the L39 Titan was introduced) and the number of N trucks were decreasing, since F trucks were constantly increasing their share of the total truck population.

But Volvo was convinced that the N truck had a future for distinct transport operations and for several markets. The management of the new 'Volvo Truck Division' decided to go ahead with a completely new truck project, which would also use the as yet secret 12-litre engine of the F89/G89.

Combining great strength with light weight
The N truck was designed with rugged strength and transport economy in mind. Low weight in combination with the ability to cope with even the toughest transport tasks were priority targets in the development process. One typical example of this was the completely new frame rail design, which was developed together with Swedish steel producers.

To combine great strength with light weight, the frame rails had different thickness in vertical and horizontal parts. This was one of the reasons behind the light weight of this truck, an optimised cab, fibreglass bonnet and ultra-efficient engines with turbocharger being other weight-saving features.

A truly global truck…
The N truck became a global truck in the true sense of this word. Even if Scandinavia was a typical home market for the N7, N10 and N12, Australian Roadtrains were often hauled by the N12. For the Volvo expansion in North America it was vital to be able to offer a modern conventional truck. For this reason the N10 was introduced in the United States in 1978 as a semi-trailer tractor.

Later also the N12 with its bigger engine and dumper trucks were introduced into North America. In Brazil, the N trucks were introduced in 1980, and have since been (together with its successors NL10/NL12 and the NH) a platform for the Volvo success in South America.

…gaining wide acceptance
One of the reasons behind the wide acceptance of the N10 and N12 trucks were the extremely tough double-drive 6x4 T-ride bogie, with its extremely good adhesion to the ground which meant that a 6x4 Volvo N truck could often compete with all-wheel-drive trucks when it came to cross-country mobility (all-wheel-drive N trucks were also available, for applications where maximum off-road capability was necessary).

The new product designation
With the N trucks, the new system for Volvo truck product designation was introduced; 'N' or 'F' designated whether the truck had a bonnet or not, while a figure designated the approximate size of the engine in litres.

The N truck was available with day cab, sleeper cab or crew cab, which meant that there was always a correct cab variant available for every transport application.