In the 21st century, Volvo’s trucks have become even more powerful, more efficient, more comfortable, safer and cleaner than ever.
Economy has always been in firm focus for Volvo’s trucks, ever since the first truck was built in February 1928. With the shaky state of the global economy since the end of the 2000s, even higher demands are being imposed today: a truck not only has to be economical, ergonomic and ecologically sustainable, it also has to function optimally and perfectly in a complete, integrated system. A system where not only the truck but all modes of transport working together are tailored for the job. Where the manufacturer (for instance Volvo) takes responsibility for the truck throughout its lifetime. Where the truck is supported by a range of integrated systems. Where the service system in coordination between Volvo each haulage firm guarantees continuous, perfect function. Where operational standstills are prevented through well-planned maintenance, guaranteed by the truck manufacturer.
When the new Volvo FH series was launched in 2012, it was as the predecessor of one of the world’s most successful trucks ever built. For 19 years, Volvo FH had been an icon in the truck industry. Needless to say, expectations were high.
At the spectacular launch, the new Volvo FH turned out to be exactly like its forerunner in one way only – being something entirely new. The new truck came packed with innovative features, many of them industry firsts, pushing the envelope for what a truck could be.
Many of them had one focus: the driver. Because at this time, attracting good drivers had become increasingly important and difficult for transport operators all over the world. But this was before the new FH arrived.
With one extra cubic metre of cab space, car-like handling, great visibility and several comfortable features such as the all-new climate system with I-ParkCool – this was a workplace for drivers to love.
The new FH also came with several groundbreaking ways to make transports more profitable for the operator. Intelligent fuel-saving offers such as the I-See make a direct impact on the bottom line. So did the bold promise of 100% uptime, previously unthought of in the industry.
But above all, the new Volvo FH series came with another promise. A promise of being ready for the future. At the launch, the incredible Euro 6-compliant driveline I-Torque was revealed, and the advanced telematics platform made for exciting future updates.
Once again, Volvo FH had become a game-changer in the transport industry.
With the launch of the Volvo FH16 750 in autumn 2011, the FH16 regained its position as the world’s most powerful truck. With 750 horsepower and maximum torque of 3,550 Newton metres it surpassed all other trucks.
For many transport assignments the FH16 is “unnecessarily powerful”, despite the fact that its advanced technology helps ensure operating costs that are low even for lighter “normal” haulage assignments. But for fast long-haul assignments in hilly terrain, for extra-heavy haulage and for customers who want the very best in the truck world, the FH16 became not just a suitable, but the obvious choice.
In most respects (in addition to power) the FH16 is comparable with the “regular” 13-litre FH range: the very highest safety, the best ergonomics, continuous operating reliability, good payload capacity, access to a global service network and very low environmental impact. In addition to the top model – the FH16 750 – the FH16 was also made available in versions with 550 and 650 horsepower.
In an historic perspective, the FH16 is a surprising truck. Previously, a powerful engine always meant higher fuel consumption, far less payload capacity and increased environmental impact. An FH16 does admittedly cost more to buy than a “regular” Volvo FH but its running costs are comparable and the payload reduction is marginal.
On the other hand, the power of the FH16 may mean an increase in average speed, that more transport assignments can therefore be carried out and that the FH16 can always keep up with the pace of traffic. Thus avoiding disruptions in the flow of traffic, even with particularly high gross weights.
Most Volvo trucks are used for domestic or international transport assignments. And on the grille of the world’s most successful truck the badge says “VOLVO” and “FH”.
The reason for the success of the FH Series cannot be traced to any particular component or any individual characteristic. Rather, the explanation lies in the overall package: that the versatile FH manages to combine features such as good performance, large cargo-carrying capacity, high average speeds, the best safety on the market, optimal ergonomics and minimal environmental impact with the lowest possible running costs across a wide range of application areas.
Other explanations for the FH Series’ success and popularity can be found in the fact that the “hardware” – the truck itself – has long been supported by expert Volvo “software” – such as a global service network and support systems which reduce the burden on the haulage firm’s administration and simplify driver planning and daily routines.
The FH Series is not just one of the favourite choices among haulage companies, it is also the first choice among drivers thanks to its comfort, ergonomics and safety. Having said that, the FH Series is not ONE truck but thousands of possible versions, each tailored to the individual haulage firm’s priorities, each driver’s wishes and, above all, each transport assignment’s special demands.
Drivers are given a choice between four cabs: short day cab, normal sleeper cab, legendary Globetrotter cab and extra-spacious Globetrotter XL cab. All are equally comfortable, but thanks to their varying degrees of interior volume each is adapted to suit the special requirements of each individual driver, haulage company and transport assignment as regards driving and living comfort and payload space/payload weight.
Under the engine cover there is always the tried and tested 12.8-litre engine with overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder, electronic unit injection and Volvo’s patented VEB Volvo Engine Brake. Power outputs between 420 and 540 horsepower meet (almost) all performance needs (if 540 horsepower is “not enough” there’s always the FH16 with up to 750 horsepower at your disposal…)
The FM Series is very closely related to the taller FH Series, but was designed to be far and away Volvo’s most versatile heavy truck.
The FM Series offers two engine alternatives: the D13 with its 12.8-litre engine (power outputs between 420 and 500 horsepower) and the high-tech 10.8-litre D11 engine (offering 330 to 450 hp). As with the FH Series, Volvo offers a variety of transmissions: traditional mechanical manual gearboxes, automatic Powershift transmissions or (the main alternative) I-Shift, Volvo’s unique automated non-synchromesh transmission which is suitable for everything from local distribution work to construction operations and regional, national and international long-haul duties.
The FM Series is in essence identical to the FH, but with one vital exception: the cab is placed lower down, making it easier to get in and out and making it ideally suited for specialised tasks such as car transport, where part of the load can be placed above the cab.
The lower-placed cab means that interior space in the FM Series is less than in the FH, owing to the larger engine compartment cover between the driver and passenger seats.
There is a very wide range of cabs for the FM Series, with six different alternatives:
The FM Series is available in many thousands of different configurations, with four different chassis heights, and with two, three or four axles. It is sold all over the world with the exception of North America.
Since the 1990s Volvo has been developing trucks that run on alternative fuels. In the 2010s this work resulted in trucks that not only created less environmental impact, but also carried out their haulage work with total dependability, good operating economy and virtually the same load-carrying capacity.
The FM MethaneDiesel provided a sustainable and economical transport solution that, by using liquefied gas as a fuel, marked a huge stride in the development of the eco-optimised truck. Compared with “regular” gas-powered vehicles (which use an Otto-cycle engine with conventional spark plugs) the FM MethaneDiesel boasted 30 to 40 percent higher energy efficiency, contributing to fuel consumption about 25% lower than that of a gas vehicle with an Otto-cycle engine.
The operating range was unlimited since the FM MethaneDiesel could run on either gas or conventional diesel fuel. Under the engine compartment cover there was a 13-litre engine producing 460 horsepower. This is more than enough for even heavy transport assignments.
From the environmental viewpoint the FM MethaneDiesel was superior to conventional diesel trucks – carbon dioxide emissions are up to 70% lower when running on biogas.
The FM MethaneDiesel (which was only built to order, for selected markets) was primarily developed for regional distribution operations: but it was also suitable for heavy local duties and, thanks to its ability to run on regular diesel fuel, also for long-haul operations.
Volvo has trucks for all transport assignments with gross weights from 12 tonnes and upwards. One application area with extra high demands is heavy, tough construction duties. Volvo presented its very first extra-tough truck, the LV66, back in 1931, designed specifically for that kind of operation. Since the early 1990s, certain Volvo models have been manufactured specifically for extra-demanding construction haulage duties.
The FMX became the Volvo truck for the toughest of construction conditions. It was presented in 2010 and is in some respects similar to the “regular” FM Series, while in other respects it is uniquely tailored to meet the very special demands imposed by heavy loads in a combination of uneven terrain, proper roads, rough construction sites and off-road conditions.
The FMX’s properties are largely a result of Volvo’s experience as the world’s leading manufacturer of articulated haulers built by Volvo Construction Equipment.
Under the engine compartment cover of the FMX is a choice of 11-litre engines (with between 330 and 450 horsepower) or 13-litre units (with everything from 420 to 540 hp). The transmission alternatives are mechanical manual, I-Shift automated or Volvo’s Powertronic automatic with Powershift, that is to say uninterrupted power delivery even during gear changes – a major benefit in the conditions in which the FMX operates. The biggest difference compared with the “regular” Volvo FM is the chassis with its extra-high ground clearance and extra protection for vulnerable components.
The FMX has many unique properties; for instanced the front towing beam is dimensioned for a 25 tonne towing force – useful for towing heavy equipment, assisting another truck that has become bogged down, or getting a tow when stuck.The FMX is offered with two, three or four axles. With drive to only one rear axle, both rear axles, or all-wheel drive to two or three axles.
A heavy truck with extra-high payload for local or regional distribution operations or demanding municipal duties. These are the main application areas for the Volvo FE.
The FE is available in two- or three-axle configuration, and with drive to one or two rear axles.
Three cab alternatives help give the FE a very wide range of application areas. A short day cab is suitable for local transports with maximum payload utilisation, with the driver always starting and finishing his or her day at the truck’s home base. The longer comfort cab combines generous load space with enhanced comfort for longer distances where a fixed bed is not essential. The sleeper cab offers a fixed bed for assignments where the driver needs – either occasionally or frequently – to have comfortable overnight accommodation in the cab during haulage assignments that last several days.
Under the engine compartment cover is the D8 7.7-litre engine with power outputs between 250 and 320 horsepower. There is a choice of manual and automatic transmission.
The range of specifications for the FE is particularly wide. Apart from various axle alternatives there are different suspension options – both conventional and air suspension (which offers exceptional comfort and flexible load-handling benefits). The available gross weights are between 18 and 26 tonnes.
The FE, which is often used in urban environments, naturally meets the stringent Euro 5 exhaust emission regulations even in its standard configuration. For operations that give particularly high priority to the local environment, such as refuse collection, the FE can also be equipped with hybrid drive.
The company’s major advances in technological expertise have meant that Volvo leads the way in trucks with minimal environmental impact (exhaust emissions and noise) as well as low fuel consumption (= low carbon dioxide emissions).
The most recent step forward, and one of the most important ever, is the new FE Hybrid, which with both electric power and an efficient and environmentally optimised diesel engine offers an exceptionally small eco-footprint.
Behind the wheel, it is as simple to drive an FE Hybrid as it is to drive a “regular” truck. The electric motor is installed between the diesel engine and gearbox. Power distribution between the electric motor and combustion engine takes place entirely automatically. For additional comfort, the truck features automatic gearchanging with Volvo’s I-Shift transmission (the same as fitted to the FH and FM Series, dimensioned for gross combination weights of 44 tonnes).
The FE Hybrid is primarily intended for local haulage assignments but thanks to its onboard diesel power its operating range is in principle unlimited. Its main application area is expected to be distribution operations and refuse collection. Two cab options are available: day cab for distribution and similar operations with maximum cargo length within a given total length, and a comfort cab which thanks to its added interior length offers more comfort and generous space for changing clothes in refuse duties, for instance.
The FE Hybrid is available in both two-axle and three-axle guise, with a 7.2-litre engine with overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder. Engine power output is 300 hp (for distribution duties, for example) or 340 hp (ideal for refuse collection and other duties).
The FE Hybrid is the synthesis of decades of research at Volvo. Thanks to many years of testing hybrid vehicles, Volvo can guarantee optimal function for this “vehicle of the future”!
The FE Hybrid is Volvo’s first series-manufactured hybrid vehicle. But by no means its last..!
The Volvo FL represents the lightest segment in Volvo’s broad range of medium and heavy trucks. It was made available in the 2010s in three basic versions, 12–16, 14–16 or 18 tonnes, with the heaviest version actually serving as a very light truck in the heavy segment.
The FL Series was primarily designed for the urban environment, where it is used mainly for distribution duties, as a municipal service vehicle or for special transports where the demands on robustness and economy are high but where a gross weight of 12 to 18 tonnes is sufficient.
Under the engine compartment cover you could find the powerful 7.7-litre D8 engine with 250 or 280 horsepower. It featured an overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder. The transmission alternatives consisted of mechanical 6-speed or 9-speed manual gearboxes, an automatic Powershift transmission or the automated I-Sync transmission, which reduces the driver’s burden in the fast pace of inner-city and suburban environments with their frequent gearchanging.
The FL Series still encompasses thousands of different vehicle variants, each tailored for its special transport assignment. Chassis lengths vary from (about) 6.1 to 11.2 metres, with wheelbase alternatives between 307 and 680 cm. The FL is only available in two-axle configuration but with various chassis heights, and offers particularly convenient entry and exit.
The FL Series is primarily intended for transport assignments that do not require overnight accommodation. The short day cab permits a long load platform within a given total length, while the comfort cab offers extra interior space for added comfort and in-cab roominess. For fire trucks or municipal duties, for instance, it was made available with a crew-cab with space for an entire crew.
The FL was given a 2.1 metres-wide cab. This gave the vehicle excellent manoeuvrability in congested inner-city conditions.
Companies that use the FL Series (irrespective of whether they are haulage firms or companies with other tasks as their primary operation) have access to all the “soft” benefits of Volvo’s product range, such as various programmes for preventive maintenance, repairs, and driver information systems.
South America is an important market for Volvo’s truck sales. Not only the FH, FM and FMX trucks are marketed here, but also the unique VM model, which is based on Volvo’s global truck range.
Under the hood of the VM is a locally built engine manufactured in Brazil, with power outputs of 210, 260 or 310 horsepower.
The VM is built in Volvo’s factory in Curitiba, Brazil, and it is available with two or three axles, with drive to one or (for the three-axle 6x4 version) both rear axles. The VM has a broad application area and is therefore available with several different cab configurations, with or without a fixed bed. The VM was initially intended for local and regional assignments, but the sheer width of its specification, its robustness and its performance have helped make it popular for national long-haul duties in the giant country that is Brazil!
North America is a continent with entirely unique traditions, operating conditions and legislation as regards transport in general and truck transport in particular. That is why Volvo, in its capacity as a global company, has a product range that totally differs from the “global” range available in the rest of the world!
Two major reasons for the special Volvo range in the USA are the exceptionally generous length regulations that permit long bonnets, and the long distances that favoured the development of particularly spacious “homes on wheels”.
Volvo’s main model in the USA is the VN, which is available in a variety of versions.The VN is offered with a choice of four cab lengths: a short day cab and sleeper cabs in three lengths, of which the two longest are also available in a choice of two heights, with full standing height in the taller version.
As a general rule the VN model is configured as a three-axle semitrailer tractor with drive to both rear axles. Under the hood of the VN power generally comes from Volvo’s 11-litre, 13-litre or 16-litre engines. Apart from Volvo’s own power units, the VN can also be specified with a 15-litre Cummins engine.
Volvo’s I-Shift auto-shift transmission has become a popular choice among American customers and drivers, although US-manufactured manual non-synchromesh gearboxes are also common.
Alongside the main VN model there is also the VNM, which with its shorter hood offers better manoeuvrability for local and regional operations. The VNM can be specified with a day cab or sleeper cab in a choice of two lengths for assignments that require overnight accommodation for one or two drivers.
The VNM is always fitted with Volvo’s 11-litre or 13-litre engine mated to Volvo’s I-Shift transmission or a US-built non-synchromesh gearbox.
The VHD is Volvo’s extremely robust construction model for North America. It is uniquely tailored to meet the demands of American construction firms and US vehicle legislation, which does not “penalise” traditional trucks but permits and rewards “Conventional” models with long hoods.
In relation to other models from Volvo Trucks in North America, the VHD is entirely unique, with a particularly sturdy chassis and exceptionally robust components available in a wide range of choices so that each and every customer can build his very own VHD.
The VHD is built with a tipper platform and also as a semitrailer tractor. In its basic configuration it features three axles with tandem drive, but can be specified in a wide range of versions with up to five axles.
The VHD, which was unveiled in its first version at the turn of the century, is delivered with either a short day cab (the VHD) or in a version with a long cab and fixed bed (VHD430).
Under the hood of the VHD, power always comes from either an 11-litre or a 13-litre Volvo engine. Transmission is either Volvo’s own I-Shift auto-shifting gearbox or a wide range of US-built manual or automatic gearboxes.