Volvo has a goliath of a truck launch!

Volvo has a goliath of a truck launch!

Volvo Trucks South Africa has officially launched four new-generation heavy-duty trucks, the Volvo FH, FH16, FM and FMX. The launch is the biggest in the company’s history. They were introduced by comedian Jason Goliath, who also drove a truck for the very first time!

The days of actual truck launches are but a distant memory. In keeping with this trend, Volvo decided on a digital approach last month when launching its four new heavy-duty trucks – namely the Volvo FH, FH16, FM and FMX. While this approach has now become the norm in our industry, the modus operandi of this particular launch was certainly completely new. Instead of roping in professional truck drivers to lift the lid on their new trucks, the company decided to ask comedian Jason Goliath to do the honours.

It was a richly entertaining launch – which even saw Goliath dancing on the truck and driving it (under very controlled circumstances at Gerotek, thank goodness). We have written about the new trucks before; in March last year, we wrote about the international launch. Back then, the trucks were destined to be launched in this country at the end of last year. Of course, that was before we all felt the full impact of Covid …

But now they’re here – on local soil. Exactly what is Volvo offering truck operators? And how did Covid affect the launch?

Let’s kick off with the bit about Covid. To overcome the travel constraints induced by the pandemic, Volvo Trucks invested in the installation of innovative IT equipment and technology. This measure, says Marcus Hörberg, vice-president of Volvo Group Southern Africa, allowed the Volvo Trucks global experts to support the South African team remotely. It ensured that the company’s highest levels of manufacturing standards and quality assurance are still implemented, despite the challenges created by the lockdown.

“We know that a fleet’s up-time is 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.”

He says the company wants to be its customers’ ultimate business partner and help them attract the best drivers in an increasingly competitive market: “We are really proud of this big, forward-looking investment in the future of our company and, ultimately, the success of our customers.”

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 of tooling and equipment in its plant.

Trucks for drivers

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 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,” Hörberg points out.

The truck models in the 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 a regional transport truck, 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 models. The truck exterior has also been upgraded to reflect the new trucks’ properties and create an attractive overall design.

New cabs

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 metre, providing better comfort and more working room. The visibility has been improved by 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 than previously, affording more 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.


A new driver interface

The driver’s area has a completely new interface for information and communication, designed to make 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 nine-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,” states 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 0 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. Volvo Dynamic Steering, with the safety systems Lane Keeping Assist and Stability Assist, will be standard on certain models and also 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 in the process, taking performance and efficiency to new heights,” concludes Hörberg.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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