1 A choice of cabs
The Aero will be sold alongside the regular version of the FH. With length regulations changing in September 2020, removing the 16.5m overall length rule, it has enabled manufacturers to extend the front of their trucks to improve aerodynamics. Looking side on you can see the Aero has a slant to the front end. The smooth design is part of several updates which include closing up panel gaps at the front, sealing other areas behind the grille and extending the side skirts. The Aero can offer up to 5% better fuel economy, with the added benefit of reduced wind noise in the cab.
2 Cameras or mirrors
Volvo’s Camera Monitoring System (CMS) features variable panning settings depending on the length of your trailer, going up to the enormous 34.5m outfits now legal to run on set routes in Sweden. The most interesting feature is the Infra-Red night vision capability. According to Volvo “the darker it gets, the better you can see”. The system is optional, and those who prefer traditional mirrors will be pleased to know you can still specify them on both the standard FH and the Aero.
3 New interior and XXL cab
The new FH features a raft of interior updates. Most notably, the XXL cab will be coming to the UK later in 2024. It features 600 litres more space, a huge bunk which is 240mm wider than the standard one, and 138mm longer. There is also a new 24v microwave, relocated to the front locker, a new sat nav system and improved stereo. Volvo has also added another two USB ports bringing the total to six. Keyless start will be an option, while there is a redesigned key fob with a light test option. The digital dash touchscreen can now be used with third party business apps too, reducing the need for extra tablets or phones for PODs etc.
4 Improved cruise and safety
Volvo’s I-See predictive cruise control has been updated and now has the ability to tackle curves and even roundabouts. Pilot Assist, an evolution of Lane Keeping Assist uses a camera and radar to scan the road ahead; it can identify traffic signs and uses Dynamic Steering to keep the truck in the lane. The driver must still make inputs into the wheel though; 15 seconds with no input will display a ‘green’ warning, 30 seconds a ‘red’ and after 45 seconds the truck will slow down, turn on the hazards and ultimately apply the parking brake. This function could be useful if a driver is suddenly incapacitated.
5 State of the art safety
From July 2024 a driver safety assistance system is mandatory in all new trucks. Trucks must have: Intelligent speed assist (the truck will detect the speed limit and advise the driver), driver alert support (it’ll tell you if it thinks you’re tired), front and side detection, emergency brake lights (flash under hard braking), tyre pressure monitoring and a rear camera. Volvo has had a collision warning and emergency braking system since 2012, although this was not required by law until 2015. The new system can see and identify pedestrians and cyclists. It features side collision avoidance support thanks to radar on both sides to detect vehicles along with a door open warning which is active for two minutes after the engine is switched off.
6 Better connectivity
Volvo is offering an improved range of subscription based connected services that provide different types of information on the truck depending on role. So the transport office knows where it is, the boss can keep an eye on fuel consumption and potential mechanical issues can be flagged such as anomalies in tyre pressure. Drivers can use the My Truck app to check the fluid levels, set cab climate, lock the doors. Systems can also be set up to report on harsh braking and acceleration and also whatever things you might have turned off. Nice!
7 They’re watching you
As a general point, big brother is going to be monitoring drivers more and more. In 2026 it’s mandatory for ALL new trucks to come with ‘distraction sensors’ which is a camera pointed at the driver and monitoring head movements to decide if they’re tired, or, we assume, doing something the computer doesn’t like. Rummaging for paperwork, or trying to find something in the fridge maybe? Where exactly that information gets sent, where it’s stored and for how long, we don’t know. From 2029 trucks will be required to have data logging capability, so in the event of an incident, everything you’ve done can be picked apart forensically.
8 Maximising efficiency
At the Paris Climate Accord, where the world leaders all got together (using their private jets of course) they decided to cut CO2 emissions in half every decade. From 2019 emissions from trucks must be reduced by 15% to 2025 and 30% to 2030. Volvo is aiming to hit 45% by 2030 and become a net zero carbon emitter by 2040. You might have heard talk of the VECTO rating for trucks, this stands for Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool. All trucks have a VECTO rating, and the less efficient trucks (eg the most powerful ones) attract a higher score for the manufacturer. Too many points and they could be fined, so there’s a big push to develop zero tailpipe emission trucks, and maximise the efficiency of everything else – hence the new Aero range. It’s also worth noting that there are plans to roll out more CO2 based road tolls in Europe
9 Diesel do nicely
Okay so here’s the good bit. Volvo has regained the crown of Europe’s most powerful truck with the new FH16 780. Featuring a completely new 17.3-litre engine which is 70kg lighter than the old 16-litre, the new D17 has Volvo’s patented wave top pistons, new injectors and a new turbocharger. There are three power outputs of 600/3000, 700/3400 and 780/3800. The 700 can run on 100% biodiesel and all can use HVO. It’s matched to an improved I-Shift gearbox with benefits from polished gears and new software. “Power with Purpose” is the tagline and while the horsepower will grab the headlines, the improvements in emissions and efficiency for markets such as the Nordic countries that run outfits over 60 tonnes will be the real benefits.
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