Volvo Trucks North America, which was the first heavy truck manufacturer to sell trucks on the Internet, continues its high-tech focus with plans to build the first Internet-ready truck and “virtual dealer” kiosks to be installed in truckstops. The announcement was made at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, last week.

Volvo is teaming up with Park ‘N View, which offers in-cab cable TV, phone service and Internet access at more than 200 truckstops, to design an Internet-ready truck. Volvo is currently designing a PNV hook-up for in-cab phone, cable TV and Internet access for the Volvo 770 and 660 models. In addition to the hookup on the outside of the trucks – no more running PNV cables through windows – each of the models will include interior wiring for telephone and cable TV connections. A prototype of the new vehicles is being shown at Mid-America. Under the agreement, Volvo also may offer Park ‘N View services as a feature in some lease packages and as an option in others, and advertise PNV’s Driver Entertainment Network channel.
Volvo also displayed a “virtual dealer” kiosk it will be installing at truckstops and dealers as part of its recently announced deal acquiring a stake in Petro Stopping Centers. The large, triangular kiosk is flanked by exhaust pipes. A touch computer screen allows you to build your own virtual truck. On a TV screen above it, a diner waitress walks you through the menu.
After you’ve decided on a model, you get to choose options such as engine, fifth wheel, cabinetry and paint job. As you touch the screen for each option, on the TV, an animated robot arm grabs the right component and puts it into a translucent truck body. After you’ve finished, you can view the complete specs. Then if you want, the kiosk will find a dealer that has a truck with the same specs, or print out a “receipt” with the information on “your truck.”
Volvo head Marc Gustafson says the company will be installing 450 of these kiosks – some in truckstops other than Petro.
The kiosk offers information on Volvo’s MVP program, which lets customers tailor a truck to a specific application by making only a few choices. At Mid-America, Volvo announced new MVP Care: a no-cost preventive maintenance program. Customers who lease or buy certain VN Series models through Volvo’s MVP truck purchasing program get four preventive maintenance services at no charge during the first year of operation. Trucks ordered with Volvo engines get two years of engine services, as well, valued at more than $2,700. In addition, MVP Care customers are supported by the Volvo Action Service roadside assistance program.