Not sure of you but I’ve always regarded construction type trucks as the ugly ducklings of the trucking industry. Not that there’s anything wrong with them in terms of performance. It’s just that you don’t dress your kids in their finest clothes when they play in the mud do you? Rather, you haul out their old T-shirts, torn shorts and dirty takkies before sending them out to enjoy the dirt.
Well, this ‘˜ugly duckling’ perception has just been bombed out by Volvo Trucks with the launch of its new Volvo FMX. With this truck, Volvo is aiming to increase its business within heavy transport in demanding road conditions , from construction and mining to agriculture and road transport.
Arriving at the launch at the end of October, I wasn’t expecting anything really exciting , probably the normal solid, staid, blocklooking white machines that are so typical of construction type work vehicles. Certainly, in line with modern day truck innovations, there’d no doubt be some impressive high tech features under the skin but as for the looks – Nah! How wrong I was.
The launch function started with some of the most dynamic and creative videos I have ever seen and there, as the main star of these movies, was this most impressive looking truck taking on the most formidable construction/quarry type terrain in its stride. And you know what , it was pretty, really pretty. This can’t be it, I thought. But it was , the new Volvo FMX. I later found out that its good looks come from its design being based on its predecessor, the Volvo FM which is no slough in the good looks department.
Interesting is what Patrik Palovaara, a specialist in truck design at Volvo’s head-office says: “It’s true that truck design is largely about rational factors like aerodynamics and ergonomics but there is also an emotional dimension. The truck’s appearance is strongly linked to both its function and its identity and, by extension, to its brand.’
Now I’ve never thought of emotion coming into the design of a construction type truck but the FMX has it , even down to the yellow X in the FMX designation. But don’t let its ‘˜pretty’ look deceive you into thinking its wimp. With a new upper grill, aggressive lower front, 3-part steel bumper with 3 mm thick steel corners, rugged skid plate and protective bull bar, this is a tough truck designed for demanding road conditions. For additional functionality, the Volvo FMX also features a powerful tow hook, headlamp mesh protection, new anti-slip steps and a convenient ladder , just to name a few examples.
Drivers can also look forward to exceptional driveline performance based on the power and efficiency of the 11-litre engine (330 and 370 hp) or the 13-litre engine (400 to 480 hp). Also, the recently updated construction version of the I-Shift gearbox makes it possible to “rock free’ from almost any situation. Massive braking power – 300 kW at 2400 rpm – is provided by the Volvo Engine Brake.
There are a host of others features well worth looking at but space prohibits us going into all of them. My advice is to pop into a Volvo dealership and have a look for yourself because in my opinion, the Volvo FMX has elevated ‘˜heavy weather’ trucks onto a new platform of respectability while maintaining functionality through the incorporation of the most modern technology.
It’s a winner whichever way you look at it. Well done Volvo.