Volvo Unveils Improved VHD Line of Work Trucks

March 11, 2020 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

Volvo Trucks announced a major refresh of the VHD line of work trucks it sells in the U.S.

The company called it the “most significant evolution” of its work trucks in decades. It made a series of structural upgrades as well as technological advances.

“Everything we’ve done to improve the model to make it more versatile and reliable also extends the life of the vehicle and increases driver productivity, safety and comfort,” said John Felder, product marketing manager, Volvo Trucks North America.

The upgrades include:

● The truck gets a new exterior that matches the design language of Volvo’s other U.S. trucks. The VHD receives a new grille design and LED high/low beam headlights. Volvo said the sealed headlamp design provides “a brighter, more focused beam for increased visibility.” The company also will offer an optional de-icing system that burns through ice and snow that accumulates on headlamps in colder weather.

● The VHD gets safety improvements Volvo is adding to its global truck lineup. These include Volvo Dynamic Steering, or VDS, an automated system that reduces the steering force required to control a truck by up to 85 percent. That reduces fatigue and increases road safety by helping the driver navigate hazards such as ruts and gutters. Volvo also will make its full automated driver assistance system an option for the VHD. It includes integrated radar/camera capabilities, automatic emergency braking, highway departure warnings and adaptive cruise control.

● Volvo upgraded the VHD with a new, robust bumper equipped with a heavy-duty 45 mm tow pin rated for 80,000 pounds.

● The truck builder also upgraded the interior to improve driver comfort, part of a global initiative. It moved the VHD’s ignition to the lower left-hand side of the dash. The steering wheel buttons are more touch-friendly and clustered intuitively for ease of use.

● The Volvo I-Shift transmission with crawler gears adds gears to the 12-speed Volvo I-Shift transmission. That allows VHD to start on steep grades. It also upgrades low-speed control and reaches maximum highway speeds with faster rear axle ratios.

The new VHD is one of a series of global debuts Volvo has made over the past several weeks.

OTHER NEW TRUCKS

In late February, Volvo unveiled four new trucks, focusing on improvements in the cabin and safety. 

The new trucks are targeted at the European market and include the FH, FH16, FM and FMX. Together they represent about two-thirds of Volvo Trucks’ deliveries.

The company is trying to make its trucks more attractive to drivers as the global industry contends with a driver shortage.

“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,” said Roger Alm, president of Volvo Trucks. 

Volvo designed a new cab for the FM and FMX that is more than a cubic yard larger to offer more comfort and work space. It also added larger windows to improve visibility, lowered the door line and designed new mirrors.

All of the models get a new driver interface that includes a 12-inch screen. There is a supplemental 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.

Safety and automated features include adaptive high beam headlights in the Volvo FH and Volvo FH16. Common in passenger cars, it automatically disables selected segments of the LED high beam when the truck approaches oncoming traffic or another vehicle from behind.

The trucks also get an improved adaptive cruise control system that can come to a full stop and downhill cruise control that automatically activates the wheel brakes when extra brake force is needed to maintain constant downhill speed.

While these improvements are for the European models, they typically appear later in upgrades to Volvo’s U.S. trucks.

Jerry Hirsch February 11, 2020
Volvo Trucks launched its first step in marketing electric heavy-duty trucks in the U.S. this week, unveiling a large program that will put more than 50 electric vehicles in service.

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