“The design is a celebration of truck drivers”Rikard Orell, director of design
Ten stories that will
change the world. At least for truckers.
The new Volvo FH was built with one thing in mind: The driver. Because attracting and keeping the best drivers is key to profitability.
The Volvo FH will help them to do an even better job – and save up to 10% fuel. It contains numerous world first innovations in order to drive safer, load faster, reduce fatigue and increase productivity.
This magazine brings you the top ten news stories, each one dedicated to what it’s all about: The bottom line.
“The design is a celebration of truck drivers”Rikard Orell, director of design
When we enter the top-secret design studio Asok George stops in front of the new Volvo FH.
“Every time they uncover it I just have to stand still and look for a moment. Everything is new, but there’s no doubt we’re looking at a Volvo.”
Asok George is responsible for the exterior design of the new Volvo FH, but the distinctive personality was a priority for everyone on the design team.
“With its sloping windscreen the Volvo FH has always been easy to distinguish. And it will continue to be so,” says Asok George.
Now with the upright windscreen creating more cab space, the angle of the roof is even more important. Thanks to this the cab still has an unmistakable profile.
“It shouldn’t go unnoticed when you drive a Volvo. Our goal is to make it the most easily recognised truck on the road,” says Asok George.
We walk from one side of the cab to the other. Asok George and Rikard Orell, director of design at Volvo, point out different features and details. The tight joins between the body parts, the precise fit and finish that have been accomplished. Lines and curves on the cab, what designers call the graphics. Here the aim has been to create a solid shape, not a front and two sides. This is why the lines and graphics continue around the whole cab.
But even more important than the lines is the stance – the attitude of the truck.
“Yes, this is vital. It has to express the truck’s efficiency and dynamics. It should look like it’s moving even when it’s standing still,” says Asok George.
The new Volvo FH appears to lean forward with its wheels pressing at the ground, ready to take off. This impression is partly built up by the graphics – an important area is the design of wheel housing and mud guard. The upper edge of the mud guard flares runs forwards and downwards – creating a dynamic line that reinforces the shape of the wheel arch.
We climb into the cab. Now we’re leaving Asok George’s design area and entering the domain of interior designer Carina Byström.
It’s airy and light inside, despite studio lighting levels being nowhere near daylight. The escape hatch – which doubles as a sunroof – is part of the reason, but the cabin has bigger windows altogether.
“The design increases the feeling of space. That’s why we’ve worked with large, sweeping lines and created clean surfaces,” says Carina Byström.
“Take the instrument panel. This sweeps across from A-pillar to A-pillar emphasising the breadth of the cab,” adds Rikard Orell.
Just like the exterior, the design inside the cab must express Volvo’s philosophy and its Scandinavian heritage.
“The shapes and forms should be true,” says Rikard Orell. “Not complicated or artificial.”
The colour scheme in the cab is completely new. The dominating colour is light, subtle and “very Scandinavian”. Closer to the floor the tones are darker, higher up they become lighter – opening up the cab and enhancing the spacious atmosphere.
Sweeping forms are everywhere. Inspiration has come from the bentwood style of Swedish furniture design that has been popular since the 1930s. The impression is one of craftsmanship and sturdiness. But there’s no wood in the cabin.
A lot of work has gone into the surfaces and materials. Demands on materials are tough – wear and tear is an issue and everything has to last.
“Quality is important, our customers are fussy about it. And so they should be,” says Rikard Orell.
Another detail that gives the Volvo FH a distinct profile is its side mirrors.
“We wanted to make the mirrors slimmer so they wouldn’t obstruct visibility as much. Now the entire mirror turns, instead of just the mirror glass inside a big casing,” says Asok George.
The slimmer mirrors also reduce wind resistance. Despite being higher than its predecessor – the leader in aerodynamics – the new Volvo FH is just as aerodynamic.
“By making the corners more rounded we’ve managed to build a cab with marginally less wind resistance,” says Asok George.
The tight fit of body parts comes in here, too. For example, the join between the lower and upper part of the cab is completely tight. This covers the engine, suspension and details otherwise visible in the gap.
“The truck is tighter all the way around. As a result, wind streams around the cab instead of through it. This does wonders for the aerodynamics and further reduces fuel consumption,” says Asok George.
The design expresses self-confidence without being aggressive. The idea of course is to attract both operator and driver.
“In recent years the value of a skilled driver has risen dramatically. There’s an art to driving a truck. For me the design is a celebration of truck drivers all over the world,” says Rikard Orell.
But drivers aren’t the only ones who need to be satisfied.
“Transport operators are our customers, and society too – everybody who comes into contact with the truck when it’s being used. It’s great if people find our trucks awesome, but they mustn’t be intimidated by them,” says Rikard Orell.
“Volvo is a brand that cares about people. We hope you can see this in the design,” says Asok George, who gives the truck one last look before its grey cover goes back on again. .
“I thought every conceivable stunt had already been done. I was wrong.”Peter Pedrero, stunt coordinator
What you see in this film is the real thing. Some may see it as overkill. We felt it was an exciting way to demonstrate the precision and control of the new Volvo FH. Were we right or wrong?
Alan Jones presses the pedal and 750 horses rumble into action. At the same time a second Volvo FH has started on the other side of the highway. Speed picks up and the two trucks drive in parallel on either side of the refuge. Then they pull apart – just a little – tensioning the line that connects their trailers.
In his rear mirror, Alan can see Faith Dickey standing on the roof of the other trailer, ready to climb onto the line. Her clothes are flapping in the wind. Will she be able to walk the line between the trucks without falling?
We meet Faith Dickey just before she carries out the big test, while the film team set up their cameras on the trucks and helicopter. Every step she takes will be recorded.
“I’ve walked slacklines between rock peaks 1,200 meters above the ground,” says Faith. “But this is something else. The drivers are fantastic, but no matter how they drive the line is moving around in all directions. And every time there’s the slightest irregularity in the road the line starts jumping up and down.”
Faith Dickey is American and one of the big names in slacklining. It’s a young sport that started when rock climbers began tensioning nylon lines between trees and eventually between rock peaks.
Now the sport is growing rapidly, not least due to breathtaking videos on YouTube. Faith has the highlining world record for women: 81 metres, and the longest female free solo of 26 metres – meaning no safety leash to save her in a fall. But she wouldn’t dream of slacklining two moving trucks without a safety leash, largely because of the wind speed.
“It’s really hard to grasp how much wind there is up there on the roof when the trucks pick up speed. On top of that there are gusts of wind coming down from the mountains and a strong wind tunnel created by the trucks.”
The view is overwhelming. We’re on a nearly finished piece of motorway in the mountains between Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia. Since the road isn’t yet open to the public, we can carry out our test without inquisitive onlookers, or traffic.
Safety is crucial for Volvo – and for Peter Pedrero, the stunt coordinator for our film.
“Stunts are not for the reckless. Safety always comes first. You have to prepare for the worst possible scenario at all times, and plan how to deal with it. Meticulous preparation and planning are everything,” says Peter Pedrero.
“I thought every conceivable stunt had already been done. I was wrong. Crashing boats at 40 knots, turning over in burning cars, it’s just another day at work. But nobody has walked a line between two moving trucks before. It feels like a huge challenge, and it’s challenge that lights my fire.”
The test puts enormous demands on the drivers. Alan Jones is a professional precision driver with a long line of films behind him. Jens Karlsson, who drives the other Volvo FH truck, has carried out countless test drives for Volvo during his 23 years as truck driver.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It demands incredible precision. Just a couple of centimetres off and the line slackens and Faith falls,” says Jens Karlsson.
A lot depends on the two trucks. This is the ultimate test of road handling and stability for the new Volvo FH series. World firsts such as rack and pinion steering and individual front suspension are two things that enable the drivers to drive so accurately. (Read more about the technology in the next article).
“I’m not sure it would have been possible to carry this out with any other truck,” says Jens after training with Faith on the line, again and again, during many long days.
The unopened highway consists of a straight stretch, a long bend and, behind the long bend, two tunnels. Before the trucks go through their tunnels Faith has to make it over to the other side. Then the line gets ripped off.
“First I thought it would never work,” says Faith. “We practised and practised and I kept on falling. But then I felt it was possible, that I could walk the nine metres to the other truck in time.”
She looks focused. Now the practising is over, the cameras are rolling and it’s time to find out. Will Faith make it to the other side?
The trucks are tearing down the highway. Faith takes her first tentative steps on the line. The helicopter sweeps past with its telephoto lens in the door opening. The wind speed is brutal where we’re sitting on the roof of the trailer, but Faith is going for it. The trucks turn into the curve, and the tunnels loom closer. Faith wobbles ... .
New shock absorption, more powerful damper springs and a completely new chassis – three reasons handling has taken a huge leap forwards.
It’s noticeable from the very first bend. The new Volvo FH reacts quickly and exactly. The driver receives continual feedback about how it’s holding the road. It gives a strong feeling of precision and control.
“The difference between driving a truck and driving a car has never been smaller,’’ says Stefan Axelsson, who leads the group at Volvo that developed the new handling qualities.
Something that’s often forgotten when we talk about handling is how it affects the driver’s effectivity and, in turn, the haulage company’s viability.
“Good handling properties make driving less strenuous. This helps the driver to stay alert and drive safely,’’ says Stefan Axelson
“Apart from this, a sharp driver is a better representative for the company when arriving with the customer’s delivery.’’
Many of the improvements are about geometry. Shock absorbers and chassis parts have been given new angles, making the chassis more robust.
“One example is the suspension springs at the rear of the cab. These have moved apart by 25 cm, which increases the yaw damping by more than 50 %,’’ says Stefan Axelsson.
Another important advance is the rear suspension, which previously conveyed the shock from the wheels up into the chassis. “Now the shock absorbers have a new angle that transfers the energy up to the trailer instead,’’ says Stefan Axelsson.
Similar adjustments have been made in several areas of the FH, which has been given more powerful suspension springs. Altogether this has improved yaw damping by 100 %.
Even steering stability has improved. This means you can choose your line through a twisting road and then just hold the wheel in place until it’s time to straighten up.
“The real test of a truck’s handling comes when you meet another truck head-on in a bend at 80 km/h. In this truck it’s no problem,’’ says Stefan Axelsson.
There’s still work to do before we reach the handling qualities of a modern car, but according to Stefan Axelsson, Volvo is close.
“Yes, we’re getting there. In many ways the new FH is already a sporty truck.’’ .
Leaner and meaner. It’s a combination nobody thought possible, especially not while meeting Euro 6. But thanks to technical breakthroughs such as the new driveline, I-Torque, the new Volvo FH saves up to 10 % fuel.
“At the same time it sets a new standard for drivability. The acceleration is fantastic,” says Mats Franzén, responsible for engine strategies at Volvo Trucks.
You can feel the response the moment you press the accelerator. The power comes immediately and it keeps coming all the way up to max speed. Without interruption, and without tailing off on hills and curves.
The only thing that’s been cut back is the fuel consumption. In one year the saving is over 4,100 litres per 140,000 kilometres.
“We’re always working with fuel efficiency to save a drop here and a drop there. But this is something completely different, now we’re cutting fuel consumption by up to 10 percent in one swoop – it’s revolution,” says Mats Franzén. This is despite the well known fact that Euro 6 means cleaner exhaust at the expense of increased energy consumption – in fact, most manufacturers are counting on an increase in fuel consumption of several percent.
“The reason for Volvo’s success is a number of innovations that work together. The most important is I-Torque, our new driveline for long haul. But I-See also makes a major contribution,” says Mats Franzén.
I-See enables the truck to remember hills and change gear in the optimal way to save fuel. (I-See is available now with Euro 5. Read more about I-See in the following article.)
The new driveline builds on a variant of Volvo’s effective D13 engine, which becomes much leaner by operating within a narrow and low rev span – between 900 and 1,200 revs per minute.
“The engine is most effective at really low revs. There’s less friction, there are fewer injections and combustions. The engine quite simply breathes more easily,” explains Christian Nilsson, project manager for the new Euro 6 engines.
“It’s quite an experience to drive on the motorway and see the rev meter running so low the whole time. You pick up speed without having to rev up, and the engine can hardly be heard.”
This is made possible by the increased torque of 2,800 Nm. Thanks to newly developed turbo technology the power is also greatest at low revs. This makes the 460 horsepower feel like a lot more, despite the engine being so economical.
But to run at such low revs wouldn’t have been possible without the new transmission, I-Shift 2. This is double clutched so it can change much faster, without losing any power.
“The feeling is just magic. The power is there the whole time, you don’t lose anything on gear changes. It simply flows, softly and quietly,” says Björn Lyngsjö, project manager for I-Shift 2.
Similar gearboxes are used in the racing world and have started to appear in passenger cars, but Volvo is first in the world with this technology in a heavy goods vehicle.
“It’s like having two I-Shift gearboxes to change between in a fraction of a second. When you start driving in first gear on one, second gear is already in place on the other,” says Björn Lyngsjö.
“So now you can keep up with cars after a red light, or after toll stops on motorways. You gain speed quickly, and then it’s easy to maintain a steady speed the whole way even if there are lots of hills. This means increased productivity,” says Björn Lyngsjö.
Sharp bends are also easier to manage with I-Shift 2.
“There’s no problem with gear changes in the middle of a bend – the pull is there the whole time. One of the test drivers likened it with the drive wheels locking on to the road with suction.”
The new I-Torque driveline is only available with the new Euro 6 engine.
“But even with the current Euro 5 driveline a lot of fuel can be saved. So everyone purchasing a new Volvo FH will already have a much leaner truck with help of I-See and other improvements,” says Mats Franzén. .
The first time you drive up a hill in the new Volvo FH, I-See is figuring it out. The second time you drive up the hill it manages your speed and gear changes for you, saving up to 5 % fuel. I-See is a major breakthrough, and it’s available now with Euro 5.
“This is intuitive technology at its best. You might think steeper hills mean bigger savings, but it’s actually most effective on gentle slopes,” says Anders Eriksson, responsible for I-See at Volvo.
When the truck comes to an undulation it remembers, I-See helps the intelligent transmission (I-Shift) to manage the speed and gear changing with maximum fuel efficiency. In all, it carries out six different manoeuvres to reduce fuel consumption. For instance, it accelerates in time to make the most of gravity – avoiding unnecessary use of the engine.
“This is the type of thing skilled drivers already do. But if you’re driving a truck for eight hours, you’re not likely to do it in quite the same way. With I-See managing the slopes you can concentrate on other aspects of the drive instead,” says Anders Eriksson.
Together with the cruise control’s most efficient setting, fuel consumption can be reduced by up to 5 % on stretches where I-See is used. How much this amounts to depends on how much you use I-See. And since it’s self-teaching, no maps or updates are needed. This too, saves money.
Even if I-See is a major fuel saving improvement, there are several other important factors. One of these is I-Shift itself, Volvo’s twelve-gear automatic transmission that chooses the optimal gear to save fuel.
“When you discover how quickly and smoothly it changes gears you understand why I-Shift has become popular among drivers,” says Anders Eriksson. .
Tall or short, narrow or wide, every driver has a comfortable seating position. The new driving seat has better cushioning and is more versatile.
The secret is the steering wheel. With neck-tilt, a feature that evokes luxury associations, the steering wheel can be tilted, not just raised or lowered as before.
“When your arms drop down a bit the driving improves,” says Peter Johansson, design engineer at Volvo.
Together with raising and lowering functions, the wheel can be angled up to 40 degrees – 10 of these come from the neck-tilt function. A more vertical steering wheel makes the Volvo FH feel similar to a conventional car. This feeling is also helped along by the Independent Front Suspension, a world first in the Volvo FH.
Tall drivers in particular will appreciate the increased adjustment area of the driving seat. The seat can slide back further in the new Volvo FH, 4 centimetres to be precise. Altogether the seat can slide up to 24 centimetres in a forwards backwards direction (best in class). The span for raising or lowering the new seat is 10 centimetres.
The seat also has a new shape. Among other things, it has improved lateral support and longer leg support. But this is a tricky area: too little leg support is not good, too much is no good either as it makes it harder to get in and out of the seat.
“The new seat is quite amazing when you realise it’s designed to work for almost every shape and size of driver,” says Peter Johansson. .
A quick glance is all it should take to know what you need to know. That’s the idea behind the new, clear instrument panel. The right buttons and controls are at your fingertips. And the buttons you use most often are easy to move closest to hand.
Integrating the speedometer with digital gauges and indicators, the driver’s information display provides the most important information at a momentary glance. What’s more, the driver can customise the display and choose up to three favourite gauges using the steering wheel controls.
Integrated within the instrument panel, the SID (Secondary Information Display) has a sharp new screen for navigation, up to 4 cameras, your music and mobile phone – and Dynafleet communication.
All information sounds have been refined to ensure clarity without being irritating. Illuminated controls now have a uniform light source and brightness is controlled by the driver.
All information sounds have been refined to ensure clarity without being irritating. Illuminated controls now have a uniform light source and brightness is controlled by the driver.
A switch on the steering wheel lets you manage the driver’s instrument group and the secondary display. The buttons themselves are more ergonomic – among other things a thumb wheel helps to control instruments and scroll through menus.
There are more rocker switches and many of them are movable. Each movable button is connected to a function, so when you move the button the function moves with it.
All symbols on buttons and controls have been redesigned for continuity and clarity.
All stalks and controls have been given a more ergonomic design. They’re quick to find and the integrated buttons are easy to use, without taking your eyes off the road.
The digital display can be run in black panel mode, where everything except legally required instruments is blacked out. When the vehicle is at a standstill even the screen can be blacked out.
Lessen the time a driver needs to look away from the road and you reduce the risk of an accident – this has been the thinking when designing the instrument cluster in the new Volvo FH. It’s led to greater flexibility in the cluster and fewer visual distractions.
The designers have tried hard to get rid of everything disturbing in the driver’s line of vision. Smooth, clean surfaces make the driving environment more harmonious. A good example is the Secondary Information Display (SID), which has been integrated within the instrument panel and doesn’t block your field of vision.
Another important aspect has been to improve the image quality of the display screens.
“The new screens have better contrast, sharpness and colour. It’s also easier to scroll the menus and find what you’re looking for,” says Nina Theodorsson who has been working with the cluster. This makes it easier to locate the information.
Having the right thing in the right place goes beyond the instruments. The buttons and stalks needed to control the vehicle should also be easy to see and use. This is why buttons now have surfaces that allow fingers to tell them apart and a distinct clicking sensation.
“The driver or operator can simply rearrange the positions of several of the buttons, so that the most frequently used features are closest to hand,” says Nina Theodorsson.
Most fixed buttons have been placed close to the area they control. There are buttons on the door for the windows and side mirrors, and in the ceiling for the yellow flashing light, microphone and so on.
“These are in the places you are most likely to look for them,” says Nina Theodorsson.
The position and design of controls is a passive measure that helps the driver find the necessary information without delay. There are also active measures which have been further developed – the driver information system is one. This can choose to delay an incoming phone call in a situation where the driver needs full concentration. The call is then let through immediately after.
“Another example is the lane change support feature, which now has a stronger red light and a clearer warning sound,” says Nina Theodorsson. “Altogether these changes contribute to a safer workplace for drivers and less damage to the truck.”
“Now driver’s can keep their eyes where they should be – on the road.” .
Peter Johansson is one of the developers behind the new cab. He tells us about the challenge of creating an effective working environment that is also a relaxing home environment. The key was a cab with more space.
The first step was upright A-pillars. The new cab is also higher and the floor lower. The height of the engine tunnel has been halved, which makes it easier to move around the cab.
“Now all cabs have full standing height inside. The upright A-pillars put a further ten centimetres between the seated driver and the windscreen. The whole cabin is lighter and airier,” says Peter Johansson, responsible for cab ergonomics.
Altogether the cab has grown by one cubic metre. More air, but also more storage space.
“Wherever you sit in the cab, you have storage space within reach. The new catwalk shelves above the doors, for example. These are ideal for the little things you often need to take with you when you’re in and out of the cab,” says Peter Johansson.
The increased glass area adds to the sense of light and space. Both windscreen and side windows are bigger. It’s also possible to have an extra side window if you like.
“And now you get lots of daylight coming in from above, thanks to the large sunroof that also doubles as an escape hatch,” says Peter Johansson. .
The extra cubic metre of space in the new cab has been put to good use. Not only with extra storage space, but with new, functional ideas that make it easier to take more personal belongings on board – and use them.
Quality of life inside the cab is better by design. One of many functional ideas is the louvred covers on the storage compartments that stop belongings from falling out.
“We chose the louvres because they add a high quality feeling to the interior – but more importantly, because they can be opened up completely without stealing living space inside the cab,” explains Peter Johansson, responsible for ergonomics at Volvo Trucks.
The overhead front compartments have been made bigger and have their own removable shelves. This makes it easier to organise your things and keep them in place. The upper compartments at the back of the cab are available at different heights, allowing you to optimise space with, or without, a second bunk.
“These ones have louvred covers that open sideways – not unlike a wardrobe you might have at home – and lighting that turns on automatically when you open them,” says Peter Johansson.
There’s even a foldaway drying cupboard for wet clothes on days when the driver gets caught out by rain.
“The drying cupboard is a textile bag with a fan at the bottom. When it’s not in use you simply fold it up and put it away. It’s perfect for a jacket and smaller items like hats and gloves,” says Peter Johansson.
If you prefer, you can choose to have the fridge in the shelf above the bed, otherwise it’s placed under the bed with the lower storage drawers.
“The fridge has grown from 22 to 33 litres and includes a freezer compartment. This allows you to store more food and to keep cartons and bottles upright. There’s even space for 1.5 litre PET bottles, so drinks are still cold when you want them,” adds Peter Johansson.
Another clever detail is the drawer that’s hidden in the side of the instrument panel, which combines a sturdy cup holder with a concealed compartment for your personal effects..
A well equipped and accommodating cab is more than comfort – it’s a competitive advantage. In the pursuit of the most skillful drivers, a comfortable cab is becoming increasingly valuable.
When a driver is able to relax and get a good night’s sleep you can see it on the bottom line. There’s greater effectivity, fewer injuries, less damage to trucks and more deliveries are on time.
“A rested driver makes fewer mistakes and quite simply costs less money,” says Rikard Orell, design director at Volvo Trucks.
For the transport operator a good cab is a precondition for attracting the best drivers.
“Good drivers are becoming scarce. The operators offering the best working conditions have the upper hand,” says Rikard Orell.
What’s more, a good cab has space for both work and leisure. This has been the goal with the new Volvo FH.
“We’ve compared the cab with a business hotel. It should be clean, tidy and effective, yet homely at the same time,” says Carina Byström, responsible for interior design at Volvo Trucks.
One of the objectives has been to create a calm environment. This is why the cab is dominated by smooth, clean surfaces and sweeping forms.
“A calm, uncluttered environment inside makes it easier for the driver to stay focused on what is happening outside the vehicle,” says Rikard Orell.
Concentration is also helped by the position of the instrument panel. From the driver’s seat it’s easy to reach the buttons and stalks needed to manoeuvre the vehicle. These have also been given shapes and surfaces that make them easily identified with fingertips, so you can keep your eyes on the road.
The design even helps the driver to manage long periods of time at the wheel without having to make too many stops.
“This is why it’s important to have a wide range of adjustment possibilities on the seat and steering wheel and be able to have food and drink close at hand,” says Carina Byström.
LEISURE TIME is better in an uncluttered cab. The furnishing is designed for a comfortable and varied life on board. Storage possibilities have been extended, but they’re hidden behind the walls and under the bed, so that the environment remains calm and tranquil regardless. The bed and lighting are two more areas that have been improved.
The cab has a lot of textile inside it, which apart from anything else is good for the sound level, but plastic also plays an important role in the interior. Here quality has been key.
“There’s more wear and tear in a truck cab than you would imagine. Just look at a steering wheel that’s a few years old,” says Rikard Orell.
New durable surfaces have been developed for the Volvo FH that combine softness with a matt finish. These surfaces maintain their high quality appearance for a long time – consequently, so does the whole interior.
“Personally I think the new surfaces are both nicer to touch and pleasing to the eye,” says Carina Byström. .
With the potential to help thousands of drivers get a good night’s sleep, I-ParkCool is the name of the new integrated parking cooler in the Volvo FH. It includes a number of intelligent ideas. One is that it shouldn’t spoil the standing height inside the cab – or the aerodynamics of the vehicle itself.
In warm climates a separate cooler is often used to cool the cab once the engine is turned off. Fixed to the ceiling inside the cab or on its roof, this either compromises the driver’s space or the truck’s fuel consumption. The Volvo FH is unique in offering a purpose-designed integrated cooler.
Because I-ParkCool is integrated within the cab, there’s no compromise to standing height, aerodynamics or access to the emergency escape hatch. It also weighs less than alternative coolers. And there are more clever features to come: “Managed with the Parking Climate function, the cooler and the parking heater work together when needed. If the temperature drops in the middle of the night the parking heater automatically helps to maintain the driver’s selected temperature,’’ explains Ulf Björkerud, developer at Volvo Trucks.
Mostly the cooler is needed in the early evening and in the morning when the sun comes up again. In the middle of the night the temperature often drops and the cab can get cold. I-ParkCool maintains a comfortable temperature throughout the night – without running the risk of a flat battery in the morning.
“A good night’s sleep improves both efficiency and safety. A driver who needs to keep stopping and napping – or even worse, keeps nodding off at the wheel – is a liability to himself, the transport operator and other motorists,” says Ulf Björkerud.
What’s more, if the driver stops for a break in the middle of a hot day, I-ParkCool can boost the cooling effect for up to an hour. It also has a timer function built in.
The cooler is highly effective, so it’s often only needed for short intervals. Combined with a low interior noise level and the comfortable new bed, this means a good night’s sleep is not unrealistic. Even on those hot and humid nights..
There are lots of little improvements in the new Volvo FH. Little things that can make a big difference on a long journey.
One of those little things is the drying cupboard. “The drying cupboard is a textile bag with a fan at the bottom. When it’s not in use you simply fold it up and put it away. This means it takes up hardly any space in the cab,” says Peter Johansson, responsible for ergonomics at Volvo Trucks.
Despite being inside the cab most of the time, truck drivers have to spend quite a bit of time outdoors. When loading and coupling, for example. Rainy days means the driver gets wet. Then, starting the journey in dry clothes can save the day.
“There’s enough space for a jacket and smaller items such as a hat and gloves. And socks, of course, for days when the weather is really nasty,” says Peter Johansson.
The new bed is another improvement. It has a more comfortable mattress and it’s wider where it’s most needed: 4 centimetres at the head and 5.5 centimetres at the hips. The foot end, in contrast, has become 4 centimetres narrower to increase space for the driver’s seat.
“It might not sound much, just a few centimetres, but these are important centimetres. The bed feels much bigger in the new Volvo FH,” says Peter Johansson.
An area Volvo engineers have worked hard with is cabin lighting. Two new ceiling lamps provide overall lighting, angled reading lights have been placed behind you, the bed and over the driver’s seat, to cast light at the optimal angle.
“We’ve tried to get rid of all the shadows in the cab by positioning lights in a better way. To avoid glare we’ve used lots of indirect light. An example is the entry lamp which lights up the steps without shining in your eyes,” says Peter Johansson.
Also the storage spaces have better illumination. In the compartment above the bed, lamps turn on automatically when you open the hatch.
When driving in the dark you have the benefit of improved night lighting – red LED lamps that let you have lighting on without ruining your night vision.
“Controlling the lighting from the bedside has also improved. With the new control panel you can even dim the lighting, or choose one of the fixed levels on the light switches,” says Peter Johansson.
If you like you can also choose to have the fridge in the shelf above the bed. Otherwise it’s under the bed. 33 litres of space lets you store quite a bit of food and even 1.5 litre PET bottles. So cold drinks are still cold when you need them.
If a bottle of water isn’t enough, you can fill the special container that has a tap. The container is made to fit inside the extra storage space under the floor and holds about 7 litres. Pull out, turn the tap and drink.
The height of the engine tunnel has been halved. This makes the floor flatter and easier to walk on. The floor has a thicker carpet for greater comfort.
More improvements? How about the option of a factory fitted microwave oven? Similarly, you can opt for a TV stand, an electrically or manually adjusted bed. The passenger seat swivels round and the table has become easier to set up. Then there’s the universal fixture for ...
Many small improvements, all with one purpose – to make the truck driver’s life on board a little better. .
Bigger windows, a redesigned instrument panel and new rear view mirrors improve the driver’s visibility and reduce the risk of collisions. Small and large.
Altogether the cab’s usable window area has increased by 17 per cent. This is most noticeable on the side windows.
“Now the bottom edge of the window slopes forward, it helps the driver discover if something or someone is close to the vehicle,” says Hanna Degerman, responsible for visibility.
With better ground visibility around the cab, it’s easier for the driver to avoid low obstacles and the expensive damage they can cause.
Together with the new uprighted A-pillar, new design rearview mirrors give the driver 10 per cent greater visibility. On the passenger side visibility is increased by 20 per cent.
Another important improvement is the design of the instrument panel. The new shape is less obtrusive.
“The entire instrument panel has a new appearance that improves visibility. Nothing sticks up or distracts the eye. Part of this is the new information display which is completely integrated and doesn’t protrude like it has in previous models,” says Hanna Degerman.
Another development is the ability to connect up to four different cameras to the information display, as opposed to just one. This assists with safer driving, for example when reversing, loading or unhitching. .
The new cab is Volvo’s strongest so far. And the world’s toughest crash tests show that drivers have a good chance of survival in an 50 mph crash with a stationary object.
The new Volvo FH series has been crash-tested over 1,000 times in computer simulations and 20 times in reality. This goes far beyond standard testing. Despite the fact that it’s no longer necessary, Volvo continues to test its vehicles to Swedish standards – known internationally as “The Swedish impact test’’ and “The world’s toughest crash test.”
Simulation and testing have made it possible to build a cab structure that provides maximum protection for the driver. The cabin has become both larger and stronger.
Crash tests confirm the benefits of the new cab structure. The crash dummy survives even the toughest test, a crash at 30 mph with a truck-shaped fixed barrier. In real life the test is comparable to one of 50 mph with a stationary truck, and suggests that a driver too, would survive the crash.
“With the new FH we’ve had the opportunity to design a cab structure from scratch, without limitations. We’ve taken full advantage of this opportunity to build our safest truck ever,” says Matti Koponen at Volvo Cab Engineering. Unique for Volvo, testing is carried out with all interior fittings in place and storage compartments filled.
“There should be no possibility of getting injured in a crash by something inside the cab. Even the coffee maker should stay in place,” says Ulf Torgilsman, collision specialist at Volvo Cab Engineering. .
The Volvo FH is the first truck in the world that comes with an emergency escape hatch as standard. It’s a sunroof that’s been made considerably larger. The bonus, of course, is a light and airy cabin.
Half of all truck accidents result in the vehicle turning over. Getting out through the door when the vehicle is lying on its side can be extremely difficult. And kicking out the windscreen is no longer an option, because it’s glued in place. The solution is an escape hatch.
“There was never a possibility of us building a cab without an emergency exit.”
“As the windscreen is glued in place, there would have to be another way for the driver to escape. It was an absolute demand,” says Ulf Torgilsman, collision specialist.
This is why every Volvo FH now has a skylight that’s built to work as an escape hatch. It measures 50x70 centimetres, which allows even extra large drivers to climb out easily.
What’s more, the skylight meets the demands on emergency exits for trucks transporting inflammable goods, such as petrol and other substances.
Another comfort is the ample light that enters the cab through the skylight. This improves the driver’s well-being and reduces the need for electric lighting.
“A pleasant driving environment is also important for safety. It makes it easier for the driver to stay alert. So you could say the escape hatch actually helps to reduce the chances of it being needed in an emergency,” says Matti Koponen at Volvo Cab Engineering. This goes well with Volvo’s aim to build safe trucks. .
Volvo was first with front under-run protection, the system that prevents cars from being run over by the truck. In the new Volvo FH this protection is further enhanced – far beyond the demands of the law. The improved protection will come to save many lives.
“The new front under-run protection system is like an extra nose on the vehicle. The old protection could retract 4 inches in a collision. The new one can retract 8 inches,” says Peter Rundberget, cab and safety developer at Volvo.
The front under-run protection system, or FUPS as it’s called, is designed to protect drivers of cars in a crash with a truck. For every truck driver who dies in an accident between a car and a truck, nine more car drivers are killed. Of course, an accident involving the death of another driver is a traumatic experience that many truck drivers never recover from, so a good FUPS is in everybody’s interest.
Volvo’s FUPS absorbs some of the force in a collision by recoiling backwards under the truck, like a shock absorber for the car. But developing this new protection has been anything other than simple. While legal authorities demand greater protection, transport companies want to avoid additional weight.
“We wanted to build an under-run protection that absorbed energy without adding weight. In fact, we made it lighter. Part of the solution was an aluminium construction,” says Peter Rundberget.
The new front under-run protection system has been tested in 500 computer simulated crash tests and a dozen full scale tests.
“We wanted to go further than legal requirements with this system. This is why we developed many new variants of the tests and now cover a further 10 different collision situations. I’m convinced that it’s going to be noticeable in future statistics,” says Peter Rundberget.
Crash statistics show the absolute figures over how many crashes, injuries and deaths occur. What they don’t show is how many truck drivers never recover from an accident where a car driver is killed. Or how many that change career and how much it costs the transport operators in lost competence and experience. If statistics like these existed they would undoubtedly show the benefit of an effective under-run protection system. .
When it’s pitch black outside approach lights enable the driver to lighten up both inside and around the vehicle from a distance.
“This lets you see if anybody is hanging around outside or inside the truck (and avoid being assaulted). The lights activated include front and rear lamps on both the truck and trailer, side lights and interior lighting,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, responsible for Traffic & Product Safety at Volvo Trucks.
Both the locks and the alarm have been improved. What’s more, the trailer can be connected to the alarm with sensors so that it’s triggered if someone tries to open the trailer door. And choosing laminated windows makes it harder to break into the cab.
When approaching the Volvo FH you can unlock the driver’s door without unlocking the passenger door, using the remote control on the key. Press once for the driver’s door and twice for both doors.
“This reduces the risk of uninvited company climbing in the passenger door while the driver is climbing into their side of the cab,” says Carl Johan Almqvist. Further increasing the driver’s security, the grille can be equipped with an electromechanical lock. The steering wheel lock is electromechanical too. .
Now you can get immediate help in your own language – all over Europe. Standard on the new Volvo FH, this smart new technology increases security for the driver and reduces downtime for the operator. If anything should go seriously wrong, simply press the button: help is never far away.
A breakdown, a flat tyre or a broken windscreen can happen to any truck. But if it happens in a Volvo, you are not alone. And the assistance is now even quicker.
”There’s no point in denying it – breakdowns cannot be avoided altogether. But what we can do is make it as easy as possible to get help when they occur. This is what 'Volvo Action Service On Call' is all about. Press the VAS-button and help is soon on its way,” says Christian Gustavsson, in charge of Volvo Trucks service.
When the driver presses the button a call goes automatically to the call centre at Volvo Action Service where it’s connected to an operator who speaks the driver’s language. The operator immediately receives information about which truck the call is coming from and where it’s located.
The driver can concentrate on explaining what has happened. Together with the fault codes from the truck, this explanation helps the workshop see what the problem is without delay. Downtime is expensive – uptime is a vital issue for profitability.
”Thanks to the immediate arrival of exact information at the VAS Call Centre, the vehicle can often be back on the road again much sooner. The fact that help is no further away than the press of the button is also reassuring for the driver,” says Christian Gustavsson.
”A big advantage is that the Call Centre immediately receives the exact location of the truck. On average it takes a driver eight minutes to explain where the truck is located. These are precious minutes in a breakdown situation. With the VAS-button this only takes a second thanks to the integrated GPS,” says Christian Gustavsson.
The button increases security in other ways too. Volvo Action Service can help a driver who becomes sick or who needs to get home quickly, perhaps due to a family emergency. Even help with renting another vehicle or trailer can be arranged while repairs are being carried out.
Volvo Action Service is open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. It has a network of more than 1,100 workshops in Europe. This means you won’t have to wait for help for very long, no matter where you are or what time of day it is. Everyone who drives a new Volvo FH has access to Volvo Action Service. .
Remember what it was like to get up and walk to the TV to change channels? It sounds old-fashioned but this is reality for a truck driver when loading. Until now. With wireless remote control a lot of unnecessary climbing in and out of the cab can be avoided.
Press a button and the vehicle adjusts itself to the height of the loading bay. Down goes the tail lift and loading begins – the display confirms it’s being distributed evenly without exceeding maximum axle weight. Once loaded, close the tailgate, jump in and drive.
The remote control saves time regardless if it’s the driver or somebody else doing the loading. Since the display shows a range of data from the load indicator, it’s easy to avoid overloading and uneven loading without having to run in and out of the cab to check the indicator all the time.
“A few years ago we let drivers begin testing the first remote control. Reactions to the prototype were very positive, so we continued to develop the real thing,” says Markus Olsson, component specialist working with the remote control at Volvo.
Assisted by the remote it’s possible to raise and lower the suspension, roll the truck to one side, operate the rear tail lift, control loading lighting, start, stop and rev the engine – and lock the vehicle.
The remote has three different modes: loading, equipment and swap body. The functions available in each mode are largely decided by the driver.
“Being able to stand outside the truck and see it from the side makes the work much simpler. I’m convinced this little gadget is going to help in countless ways,” says Markus Olsson. .
Times are changing for drivers who spend their days swapping cargo and trailer. Small ideas in technology make big tasks better, faster and smoother.
Just imagine, the trailer can be rolled to one side so it can come in close even when the loading bay isn’t straight. It does this by raising and lowering the suspension on each side of the truck. Together with the possibility of raising and lowering front or rear suspension, this makes the trailer highly versatile.
Quick change to swap bodies. Using the wireless remote, changeover between swap bodies is now simpler. The two fixed positions have become three, which can all be saved. This means the driver can save the three standard heights for swap bodies and adjust the vehicle height with the press of a button, instead of gauging the height manually every time.
Remembers the loading bay. There’s even a fixed setting for loading. The driver can save four different heights so the truck automatically adjusts to the preset height at the press of a button: a shortcut for drivers who often return to the same or similar loading bays.
A load indicator you can calibrate yourself. Saving workshop time and costs, this lets the driver or operator calibrate the load indicator wherever scales are available. Calibration is carried out from the cab with the load indicator – where data can be saved for up to 20 different trailers.
Rear suspension with greater stroke. The increased stroke helps when changing trailers, allowing the driver to lower the vehicle enough to reverse under the trailer. And the suspension has a reverse mounted anti-roll bar so you can back up closer to low objects, such as loading docks and asphalt pavers. .
The new Volvo FH makes it possible to increase uptime more than ever before. Its new technology lets the workshop carry out an inspection of vital parts while it’s on the road. This means that maintenance can be planned according to when it’s actually needed.
This piece of world news is made possible by the Telematics Gateway, the communication unit in the Volvo FH that keeps the truck, driver and operator one step ahead in various situations. For maintenance based on real needs, it sends a report to the workshop so the technician can see the status of vital parts, such as the brake pads, clutch, battery and air dryer.
“If these are in better condition than expected the workshop can adjust the service plan so the vehicle gets its service when it actually needs it,” says Christian Gustavsson, in charge of Volvo Trucks service in Europe.
As part of the new Volvo Gold Contract offer, this will allow customers to forget about the service plan and let the workshop take care of it. The technician will keep a track of the truck’s mileage, how quickly parts are wearing and adjust the service plan accordingly – and call you for maintenance when the truck needs it.
“Being able to inspect the wear remotely means you don’t have to visit the workshop too often – and you get the service done before it’s too late,” says Christian Gustavsson.
Maintenance has come a long way towards meeting the individual needs of the truck. The fact that there are so many things that need to be serviced on a truck means that this reality-based maintenance will have an important effect on uptime and operator profitability.
“The transport operator gets more effective use out of the truck – and more tonne-kilometres,” says Christian Gustavsson.
In the event of an actual breakdown, the communication unit sends the fault codes to Volvo Action Service who contact a nearby Volvo workshop so that the right mechanics, tools and spare parts can be sent out with the service vehicle.
“Sending a mechanic miles away to determine what’s wrong and then back to the workshop to collect the right parts is a terrible waste of resources,” says Christian Gustavsson, rounding up.
“In these situations a remote check up can even mean the truck can make its deadline delivery after the repair. It’s like having a virtual technician on board.” .
Many transport operators have discovered that a Volvo service contract is a great way to increase vehicle uptime and concentrate on making money. Up until now the very best solution has been Volvo Gold Contract. But with a better Volvo FH, it’s now possible to make an even better business proposition.
The new Volvo Gold contract offers 100% uptime. And that’s a promise.
How this is possible? Like a partnership, the new contract helps Volvo to better understand its customer’s operation. Together with the new Volvo FH connectivity, this enables the workshop to take a proactive role – inspecting vital parts while the truck is running and adjusting the service schedule to fit with reality. And because reality is never completely predictable, it combines Volvo Action Service On Call and a network of 1,100 workshops – each committed to a right-first-time diagnosis and repair.
Which brings us to another promise written in gold, Uptime Assurance. In the event of a standstill, we will get you back on the road within the agreed time. In fact, if it takes us longer, Volvo will pay you. It’s all part of the contract.
Of course, Volvo knows its business like you know yours, and the new Volvo FH is a truck that everybody can depend on.
Add the new gold contract to your Volvo FH. It’s worth its weight in uptime alone. .
Tomorrow’s technology already has its place in the new Volvo FH. With a little help from the new communication unit, feature upgrades can come as often as they like without any inconvenience. The technology inside is future-friendly.
When a Volvo FH leaves the factory today we know that some of its features will evolve several times during its lifetime. Software systems that control the transmission, instrumentation and engine, for example, can now be updated online.
“When we develop a more fuel efficient method of shifting gears, the truck can be upgraded without going near a workshop,” says Christian Gustavsson, responsible for Volvo Trucks service.
“This means you get a better truck – without additional trips to the workshop.”
Telematics Gateway is the communication unit connected to the computers that manage the engine and gearbox. It’s also connected with sensors that detect the condition of the parts, with Dynafleet, with the tachograph and to other important functions. It can share information from these systems with the workshop, often in the form of fault codes.
“It’s like a portal for a whole range of time saving and valuable features,” says Christian Gustavsson
Thanks to Telematics Gateway the workshop can monitor the condition of the truck’s parts online, before a planned maintenance appointment. If there’s less wear than expected the maintenance can be postponed. This way the transport operator avoids unnecessary workshop visits and downtime.
Another important feature enabled by the communication unit is the VAS-button. This comes as standard and provides a direct line to Volvo Action Service On Call – open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with over 1,100 workshops throughout Europe.
“In the event of a breakdown the driver presses the button. The vehicle calls Volvo Action Service call centre and information about the driver is communicated automatically so he gets connected to an operator who speaks his language,” says Christian Gustavsson.
The operator can also see where the vehicle is located, something that otherwise takes a long time to establish over the phone.
“When the operator gets vital information directly from the communication unit, the driver doesn’t have to be the one helping the operator and vice versa,” says Christian Gustavsson..