Truck Tech

Valhalla Rising With Volvo Trucks

Despite Volvo Truck's pragmatic Swedish culture and commitment to safety and efficiency, there is a quiet pride that is evident in its latest work. Blog by Senior Editor Jack Roberts.

March 16, 2018

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A glimpse of Volvo's work on future transportation technology is apparent in this model of an autonomous concept truck on display at the company's Customer Center in Dublin, VA. Photo: Jack Roberts
A glimpse of Volvo's work on future transportation technology is apparent in this model of an autonomous concept truck on display at the company's Customer Center in Dublin, VA. Photo: Jack Roberts

If I could take a time machine and travel back to visit my ancestors running around in Wales, in the British Isles, a thousand or so years ago, at some point I suspect they would get around to telling me what a major buzzkill it was to see a bunch of Scandinavians – Vikings, they would have called them – showing up on their doorstep.

Vikings, they would no doubt warn me, are violent, reckless, boastful braggarts, always going on about their great deeds in their Sagas, and primarily interested in burning, pillaging and stealing anything they could get their hands on.

The facts are much more nuanced, of course. Given my family history, I seriously doubt my forbearers were up to much good themselves back then, and probably didn’t have a whole lot of room to talk. But they would still be aghast to learn that historians today consider the Viking’s contribution to world history to be far more important than the occasional ransacked village. And despite the contemporary charges of heathenism and debauchery, the Norsemen were also skilled engineers whose long boats were wonders of the age.

Whatever anybody thinks about the Vikings today, it does seem they did get all the violence and boasting out of their system after terrorizing my ancestors all those years ago. The Scandinavians today are quiet, well-mannered and modest about their accomplishments.

If you visit Volvo Trucks, either here in the States, or in Europe, you see that reserved Swedish pragmatism on display as well. The engineering heritage pioneered a millennia ago by their ancestors is very much alive and well in the cutting edge technology and designs Volvo is putting on roads all around the globe today. And while Volo is proud of their products, their corporate culture and their unwavering commitment to safety and efficiency for their customers, there is a kind of quiet pride at work as well.  It’s a 180-degree cultural turn, I suppose. But the reserve and the instinct to lead by example, as opposed to shouting out, “Hey everybody! Look at me!” is very much in evidence at Volvo.

And to be sure, Volvo is an OEM that could certainly brag as loudly as any other truck builder on the planet, if they chose to. The company is a leading manufacturer of diesel engines and has trucks and highly advanced construction machinery working hard on every continent. On top of all that, the company is a major player in Europe when it comes to emerging technology such as telematics, autonomous control systems, alternative propulsion and – of course – advanced safety systems.

And lately, Volvo has begun to talk in a much louder voice about its accomplishments both here at home and abroad. The company has updated three quarters of its Class 8 truck line since the summer of last year with cutting-edge aerodynamic designs, seriously plush and productive cab interiors, intelligent drivetrains and telematics support systems that are second to none.

And that doesn’t seem to be the end of it, either. There are strong hints that Volvo is about to start showing its American customer base some seriously futuristic truck technology in the coming months that will demonstrate conclusively that it will be a serious player in the coming truck technology revolution.

Swedish modesty has dividends, too. And one of them is the ability to keep things well under wraps until you’re ready to talk about them. So details are sketchy at this point – although I feel confident in saying you’ll be hearing news on the electric vehicle and platooning fronts from Volvo before this year is out.

When that news hits, HDT will be there, of course. So stay tuned. Because like its Viking forefathers sitting by the fire their mead halls on a cold winter night, Volvo has a Saga of its own to tell. And that story is only to get better in the months to come.

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Author Bio

Jack Roberts

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Senior Editor

As a licensed commercial driver, HDT senior editor Jack Roberts often reports on ground-breaking technical developments and trends in an industry being transformed by technology. With more than two decades covering trucking, in Truck Tech he offers his insights on everything from the latest equipment, systems and components, to telematics and autonomous vehicle technologies.

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