Volvo Trucks South Africa has taken a bold step by embarking on the biggest product launch in the company’s history with the introduction of a new generation of truck models across its existing four extra heavy commercial truck ranges – the Volvo FH, FH16, FM and FMX.
With the launch of these models, the focus has been firmly placed on the driver environment, safety and productivity and has come at a time when the industry is facing a huge shortage of skilled drivers. Volvo has recognised this and, via the enhanced features of the new generation models, is aiming to help its customer attract the right quality drivers.
“Our aim is to be our customers’ ultimate business partner and help them attract the best drivers in an increasingly competitive market,” says Marcus Hörberg, vice-president of Volvo Group Southern Africa. “We are really proud of this big forward-looking investment in the future of our company and ultimately, the success of our customers.”
An expected growing demand for transport is putting pressure on the availability of skilled drivers worldwide. To help customers recruit and retain the best drivers, Volvo Trucks has focused strongly on developing the new trucks to make them safer, more efficient and more attractive working tools for qualified drivers.
“Drivers who handle their truck safely and efficiently are an invaluable asset to any transport company. Responsible driving behaviour can help reduce CO² emissions and fuel costs, as well as helping reduce the risk of accidents, injury and unplanned downtime. Our new trucks will help drivers work even more safely and productively and give our customers stronger arguments when competing to attract the best drivers,” says Hörberg.
All the new models are locally assembled in the company’s plant in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. For this purpose, Volvo Trucks invested more than R2-million in the upgrade tooling and equipment in its plant.
Amid the travel constraints induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Volvo Trucks also invested in the installation of innovative IT equipment and technology, which allowed Volvo Trucks’ global experts to remotely support the South African team. This ensured that the company’s highest levels of manufacturing standards and quality assurance are still implemented despite the challenges caused by the necessary lockdown measures.
“We know that a fleet’s uptime is now more critical than ever, so we offer the support that operators require in these demanding times,” says Hörberg. “This is how fleet owners do more, and we believe that this is a new chapter in the world of transport. Building services and support around our customers’ businesses.”
The various truck models in Volvo Trucks’ range are available with many different cab models and can be optimised for a wide range of applications. In long-haul trucks, the cab is often the driver’s second home. In regional transport trucks, it often serves as a mobile office while in construction, the trucks are robust, practical work tools.
Therefore, visibility, comfort, ergonomics, noise level, manoeuvrability and safety were key focal points when developing all the new truck models. The truck exterior has also been upgraded to reflect the new trucks’ properties and create an attractive overall design.
New cab, more space and improved visibility
The new Volvo FM and Volvo FMX have a brand new cab, as well as many of the same instrument display functions as their larger Volvo counterparts. Their interior volume has been increased by up to one cubic meter, providing better comfort and more working room. The visibility is now even better due to larger windows, a lowered door line and new mirrors.
The steering wheel is equipped with a neck tilt function allowing the driving position to be individually adjusted to a greater extent. The lower bed in the sleeper cab is positioned higher up than previously, affording higher comfort and creating additional storage space underneath.
The day cab has a new 40-litre storage compartment with interior lighting on the back wall. Cab comfort is further enhanced through reinforced insulation that helps shut out cold, heat and noise disturbance, while a sensor-controlled climate unit with a carbon filter promotes good air quality in all conditions.
New driver interface
The driver’s area now has a completely new interface for information and communication, aimed at making it easier to overview and manage different functions, creating less stress and distraction.
The instrument display is fully digital, with a 12-inch screen that makes it easy for the driver to choose the information needed at any time. Within easy reach of the driver there is a supplementary 9-inch side display available for infotainment, navigation, transport information and camera monitoring. The functions can be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel, by voice control, or via the touchscreen and display control panel.
Enhanced safety systems
“Safety is in the Volvo DNA and the safety features of our new truck range reflect our commitment to increasing safety for all road users,” says Hörberg.
Safety has been further improved with functions such as adaptive high beam headlights in the Volvo FH and Volvo FH16. The system improves safety for all road users by automatically disabling selected segments of the LED high beam when the truck approaches oncoming traffic or another vehicle from behind.
Driving is also facilitated by an improved Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) for speeds down to zero km/h and Downhill control that automatically activates the service brakes when extra brake force is needed to maintain constant downhill speed.
The Electronically controlled Brake System (EBS), which is a prerequisite for safety features such as Forward Collision Warning with Emergency Brake and Electronic Stability Control, now comes as standard on the new truck. Volvo Dynamic Steering, with the safety systems Lane Keeping Assist and Stability Assist, will be standard on certain models and also be available as an option.
Visibility is further improved by the addition of a camera on the passenger side that provides a complementary view of the side of the truck on the side display. This feature is standard on all models.
“With the new Volvo FH, Volvo FH16, Volvo FM and Volvo FMX, we are bringing a whole new level of driving experience and are taking performance and efficiency to new heights,” concluded Hörberg.
FleetWatch will take a closer look at the new models in our next eMag edition. Look out for it.