Volvo trucks are a frequent sight on South African roads, and for good reason. Over the years, the company has consistently produced excellent products and has carved a niche at the top of the industry. However, to remain at the top requires keeping up with the times, which Volvo Trucks has recently done with the launch of its newest range of trucks.
Volvo Trucks South Africa recently introduced four new commercial vehicles, in what has been the company’s biggest launch to date: the FM, FMX, FH, and flagship FH16 models. It is worth noting that all new models will be locally assembled at Volvo’s plant in Durban. More than R2 million has been invested in the plant, along with investment in innovative technology that allows Volvo Trucks’ global experts to support and monitor the plant’s manufacturing standards remotely.
All trucks feature upgrades to the exterior with trim packages available for individual customisation. The trademark V-shaped running lights have been pushed slightly outwards to give the trucks a wider stance and improved road presence. They also feature larger windows, side mirrors, and lower door lines, which enhance cabin visibility for the driver. The trucks’ appearances vary depending on spec choices, with the FMX having the more rugged looks and the FH16 the more premium.
“The new Volvo FM is the versatile workhorse of our range – agile and fit to serve its purpose of being spacious, safe and comfortable for drivers,” said Eric Parry, Product Manager at Volvo Trucks South Africa.
Nicknamed ‘the mobile office’, the Volvo FM is described by Volvo as the active driver’s first choice, and it combines excellent comfort with agility, convenience and outstanding visibility.
“With the launch of the new Volvo FMX, we are supporting these customers (in the construction industry) by creating robust trucks and innovative services to assist in making their operations easier, safer and more profitable,” stated Marcus Hörberg, Vice-President of Volvo Group Southern Africa.
The Volvo FMX is the company’s most robust construction truck to date and is best suited to tackling challenging terrain. It is best exploited by the construction and mining industry, with its rugged exterior and entirely new cab.
According to Marcus Hörberg, Vice President Volvo Group Southern Africa: “A good driver can make a huge contribution to a fleet owner’s profitability. By launching this new truck, which prioritises the professional driver’s productivity and comfort, we have taken an important step forward in helping our customers attract and retain the best drivers in the industry.”
The FH is at the opposite end of the spectrum when compared to its sibling, the FMX. Designed to live out on the road, the Volvo FH is a truck that shines in safety and comfort over longer stretches. It optimises uptime and fuel efficiency and offers a commendable driver environment.
“Our new flagship Volvo FH16 is a genuine premium product that can handle the most demanding applications and local operating conditions while giving customers and drivers the best of everything,” says Hörberg.
This is the flagship of the range and promises the power needed to work efficiently and a level of comfort that makes it all less of a strain. Volvo reckons that this truck is the perfect match for the heaviest assignments a customer needs to undertake, while not compromising on power and fuel efficiency, comfort and style. The exterior design alone is enough to point out that it surpasses its siblings as far as power and convenience are concerned.
NEW INTERIOR FEATURES
All four of the new trucks boast a revamped driver-centric interior with new accent colours and quality trim. The driver faces a fully digital 12” instrument cluster. This customisable screen allows the driver to select between four different screens, depending on the driver’s required information in specific situations. In addition to this, the trucks also come with a 9” touchscreen infotainment system complete with navigation and camera monitoring. As well as touch inputs, the infotainment system can be controlled through buttons on the steering wheel or voice inputs, to ensure that the driver can work the system on the move without taking their hands off the wheel. The new steering wheel also comes with a neck tilt option that offers the driver a more ergonomic driving position.
Also revamped is the I-Shift gear selector with illuminated gear selection symbols and new drive modes to optimise performance. Not only does this upgrade bring a premium feel to the cabin, but it also makes it easier for the driver to move around it.
Ultimately, the practicality of a cabin will depend on the cab you spec for your truck. The FM and the FMX trucks can be configured with a range of cab options including: Day cab, Low day cab, Low sleeper cab, Sleeper cab, Globetrotter cab and Crew cab. The FH and the FH16, on the other hand, are only available with the following options: Low sleeper cab, Sleeper cab, Globetrotter cab and Globetrotter XL. In all configurations, customers will have interior trim packages available for individual customisation.
The Volvo brand has always been synonymous with safety, and this passion of theirs extends even to their trucks. As part of the safety features available, the newly launched trucks come with Downhill Cruise Control, which prevents uncontrollable accelerating downhill. The system also works well with the improved Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) which can operate even down to zero km/h.
The trucks also come standard with an Electronically Controlled Brake System (EBS), a prerequisite for safety features such as Forward Collision Warning with Emergency Brake and Electronic Stability Control. There are several awe-inspiring videos on YouTube where people have captured Volvo trucks engaging their emergency brakes to avoid collisions with pedestrians and other vehicles. The Volvo Dynamic Steering and Lane Keeping Assist, as well as Stability Assist will come standard on specific models, and as an option for selected others. And for added convenience and safety, the trucks also come standard with passenger corner camera systems that give the driver a view of the truck’s passenger side to aid visibility.
The FM and the FMX have similar diesel engine options, all with different emission standards. They come with the D11A which is available in 330 hp/1,650 Nm and 370 hp/1,770 Nm; and the D13A which is available in 400 hp/2,000 Nm, 440 hp/2,200 Nm and 480 hp/2,400 Nm variants.
The FH runs the D13A Euro 3 engine which is available with 400 hp/2,200 Nm, 480 hp/2,400 Nm and 520 hp/2,500 Nm.
The flagship FH16 comes with the D16C Euro 3 which is available with 550 hp/2,500 Nm and 610 hp/2,800 Nm.
In addition, all trucks are available with variants of the Euro 5 engine on special request. However, most impressive for me is a gas engine currently being tested in South Africa.This engine can run on either biogas, which cuts CO2 by up to 100%, or natural gas that reduces CO2 emissions by up to 20% compared with Volvo’s equivalent diesel trucks.
Volvo places substantial focus on driver productivity with their latest trucks, as they understand that this factor has a massive impact on driver performance. New Volvo truck cabin environments are comfortable enough to work in for lengths of time, and engineered to be safe to reassure drivers as they go about their daily business.
Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU | Images © VOLVO TRUCKS