After introducing electric and autonomous truck developments in 2019, Volvo Trucks has unveiled four new truck models at once, squarely focused on the driver and productivity, meeting sustainability goals with more fuel-efficient internal combustion engines and alternative fuels.
The Sweden-based global truck maker’s biggest product launch ever, the new versions of the FH, FH16, FM, and FMX, cover some 70% of Volvo’s global markets. The biggest product launch in the company’s history was scheduled to bring in journalists from all over the world. It was teased with a video showing Volvo Trucks President Roger Alm atop all four of the trucks stacked atop each other, moving slowly down a suitably dramatic nighttime road.
But the rapid spread of the COVID-19 illness caused by the novel coronavirus in Europe prompted Volvo to cancel the in-person event, instead broadcasting interviews with officials live over the Internet for trucking journalists.
“We had really hoped to have you here with us today to learn more about our product range and test drive the new trucks,” Alm said. However, “we always put safety and people as number one, and we will not make any exception to that today, either.”
Citing 2019’s record global deliveries of more than 131,000 Volvo trucks, Alm said, “One of the key factors is that we are always staying close to our customers. We are listening to them, we are taking their challenges into consideration.”
Those challenges include drivers, fuel economy, productivity, and sustainability.
“The driver has been the main focus [of this new range]”, Alm said. “We all know there is a global challenge regarding drivers in our industry, and we want to help customers attract the drivers. We have improved the comfort, the ergonomics, the visibility, with a lower noise level and improved safety. A completely new driver experience, and we will set the new standard in our industry.”
Volvo said the new trucks address a number of areas identified by a survey of European fleets as important for attracting drivers, including driver environment/comfort, safety, and truck performance.
All four trucks have a new dashboard features a digital 12-inch high-resolution instrument display, which allows drivers to choose between four different screen views, depending on the driving situation and the information they prefer to have displayed. A 9-inch side display can provide infotainment, navigation assistance, transport information and camera monitoring. The display, which is easy to reach, allows the driver to interact with buttons on the steering wheel, through voice control, or directly via the touchscreen and display control panel.
The new Volvo FM and Volvo FMX have a new cab; the interior volume has been increased by up to one cubic meter, providing better comfort and more working room. Visibility has been improved with larger windows, a lowered door line and new mirrors.
Fuel Economy and Sustainability
Both the environment and economics are important factors for haulage companies, Volvo said, emphasizing that different transport segments and applications will require a variety of solutions, so several types of drivelines will continue to exist in parallel for the foreseeable future.
While last year the company introduced electric trucks for urban delivery applications, the new truck range focuses on the internal combustion engine.
When looking at alternative fuels and electric powertrains, Volvo said, there are supply and infrastructure issues to address.
“We can’t take on this huge challenge on our own,” said Maria Bergving, senior vice president, brand and communication. “It’s about building infrastructure for alternative fuels and electric charging, about setting common standards and also harmonizing legislation.”
Jessica Sandstrom, senior vice president, global product management, explained that Volvo’s electromobility strategy expects it to come gradually, because of issues related to total cost of ownership and fueling infrastructure.
The company started with the applications where electric drivetrains make the most sense – refuse and city distribution – with last year’s release of the FL and FE electric trucks, she said. “Our feedback we get from customers is very good. The next step is regional haul and construction, and we started that last year showcasing two concept vehicles in December. The next step is to take these concepts though the development loop and have fully industrialized vehicles available.”
When asked about hydrogen fuel cell powertrains, Sandstrom said, “We do not see hydrogen as a viable option due to the cost, it’s quite costly, and also the availability of hydrogen. If we look at the longer time perspective, maybe 10 years from now, it might have changed.
“For long haul vehicles, we see combustion engines going forward. We see that we continue to need many different alternatives. It’s important to remember that the combustion engine can be biofuel, which means you can operate on zero C02 emissions.”
There are ways to make internal-combustion engines more environmentally friendly, Volvo emphasized.
In many markets, the Volvo FH and Volvo FM are available with the Euro 6 liquified natural gas (LNG) engine. The company said this offers fuel efficiency and performance on par with that of Volvo diesel trucks, but with a far lower climate impact. The gas engine can run on either biogas, which cuts CO2 by up to 100%, or natural gas, which reduces CO2 emissions by up to 20%, compared with Volvo’s equivalent diesel trucks.
The new Volvo FH also can be ordered with a new efficient Euro 6 turbo compound diesel engine, which is included in the I-Save package and enables significant fuel and CO2 savings, according to Volvo. In long-haul operations, the new Volvo FH with I-Save combines the new D13TC engine with a package of features and can deliver fuel savings up to 7%.
Volvo also offers Climate Wise Edition trucks for regional and long haul that have the capability of being CO2-neutral throughout their lifespan – from production, usage of the truck and to its end-of-life. Volvo I-Save and LNG trucks combined with biofuels for regional and long haul are combined with climate compensation for CO2 emissions generated in the production chain. (Climate compensation means financing a measure outside the company’s own operations that will lead to a reduction in emissions that is equal to the emissions being compensated for.)
Safety and Productivity
Adaptive high beam headlights in the Volvo FH and Volvo FH16 automatically disable selected segments of the LED high beam when the truck approaches oncoming traffic or another vehicle from behind.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) now works at speeds down to zero km/h, and a new descent control automatically activates the wheel brakes when extra brake force is needed to maintain constant downhill speed. The Electronically controlled Brake System (EBS), is a prerequisite for safety features such as Collision Warning with Emergency Brake and Electronic Stability Control, now comes standard. Volvo Dynamic Steering, with the safety systems Lane Keeping Assist and Stability Assist, is also available as an option. A road sign recognition system detects road traffic signs, such as overtaking restrictions, road type and speed limits, and displays them in the instrument display.
The new cab of the Volvo FM and Volvo FMX comes with a number of improvements in driver visibility, including larger windows, a lowered door line and new rear view mirrors. The visibility can be further improved by the addition of a passenger corner camera that gives a complementary view of the side of the truck on a 9-inch side display. The camera is also available on the Volvo FH and Volvo FH16.
On all of the vehicles the side display can be used to monitor up to eight cameras, four of them simultaneously, giving the driver an easily accessible view of both the truck and the surrounding environment.
A new 38-tonne bogie available for especially demanding applications was highlighted in the teaser video. The FH16 also offers Increased front-axle load capacity, and tag and pusher axles with better steering angles, to improve both the maneuverability and productivity. The FMX FMX features the heaviest addition to Volvo’s chassis range – a 38-tonne bogie that allows for a Gross Combination Weight of up to 150 tonnes.
Volvo is selling the new trucks in Europe starting next week and will gradually roll them out in other markets around the world.