Volvo's new VNX is designed for heavy haul and severe service vocational.

Volvo's new VNX is designed for heavy haul and severe service vocational.

LOUISVILLE -- Volvo Trucks Thursday at the Mid-America Trucking Show introduced the VNX, a heavy-haul, high-performance model designed for extreme gross weight applications. The company also said it’s making the I-Shift the standard transmission on all trucks and made a number of other announcements. 

VNX Debuts

At the core of the new VNX heavy-haul and vocational tractor is a Volvo integrated powertrain featuring a newly introduced D16 engine with 600 horsepower, 2,050 pounds-feet of torque and I-Shift automated manual transmission.

Developed for applications up to 225,000 pounds, the Volvo VNX is best suited for long combination vehicles, heavy equipment hauling, aggregate, low-boy, logging, oil field and mining operations. VNX demonstrator models will be available early summer, and customers can begin placing orders this fall.

The new rating for the D16 is Volvo’s most powerful North American engine.

The VNX also features Volvo’s I- Shift automated manual transmission, now a standard feature across Volvo’s North American product lineup. I-Shift’s integrated sensors identify truck load and road grade to place the truck in the right gear for the conditions for smooth, optimum shifts, improving fuel efficiency and extending clutch life and service intervals.

Available in 6x4 and 8x4 configurations, the Volvo VNX offers a wide range of heavy- haul components to ensure it’s properly spec’d for the job. Front axle ratings range from 16,000 to 20,000 pounds with parabolic springs. It’s available with 385 wide-base, 425 and 445 tires to match front axle load capacity. Available rear axles range from 46,000 to 52,000 pounds in regular, dual-track and wide-track tandem configurations are available. Dual steering gears and a 20,000-pound steerable pusher axle are also available as options.

The VNX features Volvo’s full-size daycab equipped with the company’s ergonomic dash, ample storage room and contemporary styling and trim levels.

I-Shift Now Standard on all Volvo- Powered Trucks

Volvo Trucks also announced it will now offer its I-Shift automated manual transmission as standard on all Volvo-powered trucks built for the North American market. Manual transmissions will be available as an option.

Sales of the Volvo I-Shift reached record levels in 2012, with nearly one of every two Volvo trucks built in North America featuring the Volvo I-Shift, said Goran Nyberg, president, Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing.

Since its introduction in 2001, Volvo has sold more than 330,000 I-Shifts globally, and is currently building more than 80% of its trucks globally with the I-Shift.

The 12-speed Volvo I-Shift is able to downshift and upshift in smaller, optimum steps – average 28% – between gears compared with competitive transmissions, which average 37% steps between gears. This improves drivability and skip shifting. Integrated sensors identify truck load and road grade to place the truck in the right gear for the conditions for smooth, optimum shifts, extending clutch life and service intervals. I-Shift also reduces wasted revs and boosts fuel efficiency by up to 1.56% when compared to an unproductive driver.

Volvo says the I-Shift is proven to help attract and retain drivers, largely because it improves driver comfort and lessens the physical demands of the job. 

Truck owners also can get extra payload capacity as a result of the I-Shift’s lightweight design, which provides a weight savings in excess of 100 pounds compared with 13- and 18-speed transmissions.

1,850 lb.-ft. Torque Rating for D13 Engine

Volvo also told the press that it’s boosting peak torque in the 13-liter D13 engine with the introduction of a 500-horsepower, 1,850 pounds-feet engine rating. The powerful, yet fuel-efficient engine, is well-suited for linehaul, heavyhaul and on- and off-highway vocational applications, said company officials.

The new rating will be available for order on all Volvo VNM, VNL, VAH and VHD models beginning in the third quarter of 2013. Previous peak torque across Volvo’s product lineup was 1,750 pounds-feet.

Volvo’s 500 horsepower, 1,850 pounds-foot-torque engine is an Eco-Torque rating, which allows the truck to accelerate normally through all bottom gears. In the top two gears, where most of the fuel is traditionally consumed, the engine defaults to the lower torque curve, helping save fuel. The higher torque is available on demand. 

Blade Air Suspension Introduced

Volvo's new suspension uses "blades" instead of springs for smoother braking and less tire wear.

Volvo's new suspension uses "blades" instead of springs for smoother braking and less tire wear.

Volvo announced its Blade Air Suspension, designed to improve ride, handling and driver comfort. The Volvo Blade Air Suspension will be available on Volvo VNL and VNM models.

Field-tested by customers for more than 3 million miles, Volvo Blade Air Suspension features paired high-strength steel blades for each wheel end attached to the axle using the upper and lower axle seats. The design acts to control windup for smoother and more effective braking and improved traction especially at startup.

In traditional highway trailing arm suspensions, braking and tractive forces cause the vehicle to rise during acceleration and drop during braking as the axle twists, increasing driveline bearing stresses and vibration. The Volvo Blade Air Suspension design prevents excessive axle windup and resulting vibration, creating a more comfortable ride for the driver. Moreover, as a result of being less torque reactive, the suspension allows input torque ratings up to 2,050 pounds-feet for higher gross-combination weight ratings.

The blades of the Volvo Blade Air Suspension are stiff vertically and flex laterally, allowing them to track and reduce tire scuffing, improving tire wear. Customer field tests reported up to a 25% improvement in tire wear because of this alignment feature.

Additionally, Volvo Blade Air Suspension is lighter weight and requires less maintenance than trailing arm suspensions. Huck U-bolts are used to connect the axle seats to the axle housing that never require re-torqueing. There are no wear pads to wear out or bushings that need lubrication or maintenance. Because of the unique construction of the suspension, axle alignment is easier on VBAS-equipped vehicles.

Volvo D13- LNG Engine 

Volvo showcased natural gas engines at Mid-America, including a Volvo-brand LNG engine currently in testing.

Volvo showcased natural gas engines at Mid-America, including a Volvo-brand LNG engine currently in testing.

Volvo Trucks also showcased its prototype D13-LNG engine, the first integrated natural gas model for the North American market. The D13-LNG compression-ignition engine uses liquefied natural gas. Customers will also be able to specify a Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission.

The engine is a continuation of Volvo's comprehensive Blue Power natural gas strategy for North America, joining previously announced spark-ignited natural gas engine options for the Volvo VNM and VNL model daycabs.

The Volvo 13-liter compression-ignition engine, which uses a small amount of diesel fuel to ignite the LNG, delivers diesel-like durability and performance in terms of horsepower and torque, the company said. The D13-LNG also provides about a 20% fuel efficiency improvement compared with spark-ignition natural gas engines and an even greater fuel cost reduction when compared with diesel-powered engines. Volvo VNL daycabs powered by the Volvo D13-LNG engine will be available for order during the second half of 2014.

Volvo previously announced two solutions powered by either compres

sed natural gas (CNG) or LNG, depending on the specification. The VNL daycab, equipped with a 12-liter Cummins- Westport ISX12 G engine, was introduced at the 2012 

Mid-America Trucking Show. Full factory deliveries will begin during the third quarter of 2013. The other solution meeting demand for natural gas-powered trucks is a natural gas-powered VNM daycab, featuring a factory-installed 8.9 liter Cummins ISL G engine.

Volvo air disc brake.

Volvo air disc brake.

Lastly, Volvo Trucks announced three product enhancements to its VN models in North America:

  • New Volvo air disc brakes, which feature a smaller, lighter disc for front axles and easier maintenance for rear axles.
  • SmartWay-compliant aerodynamic chassis fairings
  • A mount for flat panel TVs