Friday, June 01, 2018

Trucks - Volvo Trucks Celebrates the 25 th Anniversary of the Volvo FH - A Recap of The Innovative Industry Favourite Heavy Duty Truck

Volvo Trucks recently celebrated the 25 th anniversary of their Volvo FH series of heavy duty trucks. First launched in 1998, the Volvo FH truck was designed with the driver in mind and it had a lot of revolutionary features. Now a good 25 years after it was first launched, it still a leader in terms of driver safety, care and also many other groundbreaking trucking solutions in productivity as well as in environmental care. Volvo Trucks called it The Truck of the Future then and 25 years later, it still brings a lot of innovation to the table.

Now whilst it has been making headway abroad, it was only launched here in April 2017. But with its Malaysian launch, the Volvo FH has set the new standard for premium heavy haulage. Being the largest (and most performance packed) Volvo Truck series you can buy, it seems to have hit a sweet spot with Malaysian hauliers. Customers such as Chip Jun Sdn Bhd, Central Kargo Sdn Bhd and Haiweima Sdn Bhd. basically bought the FH as soon as they were able to do so. Somehow, they wanted something more in their fleet, something a little bit more special.

“25 years down the road, it is easy to see how close to our hearts the Volvo FH is to us. It has become the industry standard for long-haul trucks, a prime representation of the innovation and passion that we put into our work here at Volvo Trucks.” said Mats Nilsson, Managing Director, Volvo Malaysia (seen above at the Malaysian launch - 2nd from the left).

I personally have driven the FH series at its Malaysia launch and it was easy to handle and maneuver around the short course. It was also packed with driver conveniences such as the crawler gears, the I-shift dual clutch gearbox, the I-PARK cabin cooling function (without the need of running the engine) and the Volvo Dynamic Steering that takes all the shock out of the steering when going over rough surfaces. (VDS).

Claes Nilsson, President Volvo Trucks, sees the Volvo FH as the backbone of Volvo Trucks when it comes to image as well as creating profitability for the customers and offer a state of the art workplace for the drivers. Note how quickly some customers bought the truck here in Malaysia!

1993 Volvo FH

He also mentioned how the bold introduction in 1993 marked the start of a very successful time for Volvo Trucks. Whilst they were coming towards the end of a recession they actually decided to make a big push and it proved to be a success. Volvo Trucks launched the FH at the right time and they had the most attractive product when the economy and transport market turned upwards again.

The first Volvo FH was based on a new chassis whose dynamic design facilitated flexible solutions for different transport applications. Everything had a clear business focus, including the fuel-saving aerodynamics, groundbreaking driveline and the Volvo Engine Brake.

But it was the new cabin design that made the Volvo FH into something that was recognised to being special.  Whilst developing the Volvo FH, Volvo Trucks early on decided to put an emphasis on the driver and over
1,500 drivers took part in extensive clinics where Volvo Trucks asked them on what they wanted and more. From that, Volvo Trucks managed to design and build a truck cabin or cab that created a whole new driving, resting and sleeping experience. These details actually mattered to the drivers and their customers.

This attention to detail meant there have been no less than three cab facelifts between 1993 and 2008. The drivers benefit a lot from this in terms of safety and comfort. Of course, things further improved when in 2012, the all-new Volvo FH was launched. This time it came with a totally redesigned cab and an integrated climate system I-park Cool created premium comfort - No need to run the engine and burn fuel making the FH a eco-conscious truck to operate.

The Volvo Dynamic Steering in 2013 has also led to easier, safer, more stable and precise driving while reducing strain related injuries. Less strain usually means a happy, less fatigued driver. This is always a good thing.

Being something from Volvo, it doesn't matter if it is the seperate Volvo Car or the Volvo Trucks company, a Volvo has safety in mind. The Volvo FH has been a forerunner in safety.  Volvo Trucks was the first truck brand to offer airbag in 1995 and also introduced Front Underrun Protection System (FUPS) in 1996, ten years before it became a legal requirement (over in Europe and them later to the rest of the world). Volvo Trucks have been on the forefront of road safety for a while and they keep on innovating.

In order to innovate and push for a safer truck, the FH truck was subjected to thousands of simulated collision tests and around a hundred real crash tests. Collision-absorbing beams and doors are made of dual-phase steel and the body paneling is made from the strongest available steel. Basically it isn't just the chassis, the structure of the truck cab but also the panels that cover the cabin are subject to proper crash safety engineering. It has been a holistic approach to designing the FH truck.

Of course, customers also want to hear about pulling power aside from driver comfort and safety. The Volvo FH has improved performance and productivity of heavy-duty trucks to a higher level. The I-Shift Dual Clutch gearbox first installed in 2001 gives the FH and any Volvo Truck equipped with it extra pulling performance and effiency. And we only hear automated dual clutch common in passenger cars after the mid-2000s. Volvo Trucks were already putting them into their trucks earlier!

The I-Shift Dual Clutch is especially suitable for regional and long-haul transports on hilly and curvy routes. All gear-changes are precisely timed without loss of power or torque, which improves driver comfort and it allows higher average speed. For construction and heavy transports, the I-Shift with crawler gears is preferred. It actually allows a truck to start from a standstill even with loads of up to a massive 325 tons and drive as slow as 0.5 km per hour, which allows precision maneuvers over tough terrain easier to perform. 

The I-Shift also reduces the truck’s footprint as it is an efficient gearbox or transmission shuffling the torque and horsepower where its needed and also allows for reduced fuel consumption and emissions.. As environmental care is one of Volvo Trucks’ core values, the usage of such a drivetrain has allowed reduced its emissions and fuel consumption to its truck lineup including the Volvo FH truck. 

Another special milestone was the launch of Volvo FH LNG in 2017. This even more environmentally friendly gas-powered truck delivers the same performance as other Volvo FH trucks, but it can be run on either biogas, which cuts CO 2 by up to 100 per cent, or natural gas which reduces CO 2 emissions by 20 per cent compared with diesel. This relates to emissions from the vehicle during usage, known as tank-to-wheel. 

Summing up the the Volvo FH are the awards that it had won. The Volvo FH is the only model to be named truck of the year three times (1994, 2000 and 2014). To date, almost one million units of the FH has been sold and the fans of the truck seem to await what more innovation that the FH series of trucks will bring. 

Claes Nilsson had also stated that the coming years pertaining to the Volvo FH will be even more exciting than the first 25 years of the heavy duty truck. What this means is that Volvo Trucks has more in store for this truck. It looks like we shall see a lot more innovation and technology put in a Volvo FH. 

We can foresee added connectivity and more autonomous truck piloting. We can predict Volvo FH trucks 'talking' to one another and we can see more predictive active safety installed in them. The only question is when. But anyway, happy birthday Volvo FH! 

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