In the late 1990's, Volvo had decided that the existing 16-litre engine (introduced in 1987) was not up to the demands of the 21st century. A decision was consequently taken that a completely new generation of the FH16 should be developed, to be introduced in 2003.
The demands on the new FH16 generation were tough: it should offer the very best performance in the truck industry for challenging tasks like Australian Roadtrain operation, Nordic timber combinations and very fast long-distance transport. Demanding goals upon fuel economy were put up. The new engine should fulfill the most arduous environmental demands. Demands on quality, service life and reliability were given top priority.
The general layout of the new FH16 was easy to define: it should be very similar to the FH12, which was recognized as industry leader. In this way, spare availability and efficient design were also optimized.
New engine was needed
From the very start of the design process, it was obvious for the engineers that a new Volvo engine was needed. None of the available engines from the third-party engine producers would fulfill the stringent Volvo demands for this premium truck. The engine designers decided that the basic design ideas from the high-technology D12- and D9-engines could be used, but adapted to the increased demands on performance.