Volvo started its truck operations in 1928 with the production of medium-duty trucks. After that, Volvo successively introduced heavier and heavier trucks until the product programme included all types of trucks, from light-duty to heavy-duty.
Strangely enough, Volvo's success in the area of medium-duty trucks diminished to a great extent during the 1950s and 1960s, mainly due to the fact that medium-duty trucks were made in most of the export countries where Volvo sold its trucks and these were normally less expensive and perhaps not as rugged as Volvo's vehicles.
High ambitions for the medium-duty truck
In the 1980s, after the L42/L43/F82/F83/F82S/F83S and the F4/F6, Volvo had high ambitions for the medium-duty trucks and vast resources were available. The decision was taken to go ahead and develop a new family of medium-duty trucks from scratch (but utilizing of course the well-proven basic driveline components already developed for the new generation of medium-duty trucks).
In the late 1970s, a study was carried out on possible successors to the F4/F6 trucks. It was decided to introduce the new trucks in the mid 1980s, and that they should be designed and built in the modern Volvo facility in Oostakker, Belgium.
The new FL family
From the very beginning it was decided that the new medium-duty trucks should meet the same safety standards as heavy-duty Volvo trucks, while at the same time offering superior ergonomic properties compared with both previous Volvo distribution trucks and trucks from Volvo's competitors.
Soon, the shape of the new FL family (F=Forward cab, L=Low level cab) was decided. The basic design incorporated a low cab floor level for easy entry and exit, large windows for good vision and massive interior space, all within the limits of 2.3 m width to facilitate driving in confined areas.
Weight, power and strength
Naturally, there was a need for several weight classes, including a light class at around 7-11 tonnes (FL6L), a medium class of 14 tonnes (FL6M) and a vehicle, which was a very light heavy-duty vehicle (FL6H). Some years later the FL6H was succeeded by an even more powerful vehicle in the 18-tonne class, which was also available as a three-axle vehicle with GVW of 26 tonnes (FL6E).