Volvo launches the new FH model in Brisbane
TO kick off the Brisbane Truck Show the team from Volvo prepared something a little bit unique.
A truck launch in the Queen Street Mall with 500 of their staff. The result was mass media attention and excitement all round one day before the official start of the Brisbane Truck Show.
With its innovative use of technology, the new Volvo FH provides unprecedented safety, comfort and fuel economy, ushering in a new era in truck design.
Volvo is famous for producing high-quality trucks that put driver safety and fuel economy first, but the New Volvo FH is a major step forward. It combines fuel economy, reliability, ergonomics, superior handling, active and passive safety, and time-saving features to create a breakthrough in truck design.
"This is not a facelift of the old FH," says Gary Bone, Vice President Volvo Trucks Australia Sales, "this is a whole new truck. We decided it was time to start from scratch because the technology available to us made a host of new approaches possible. The FH is the result of years of research and development, exhaustive testing and customer consultation. It's the ultimate embodiment of our values of Safety, Quality and Environmental Care, and when you get into one, you'll see why. The New FH is the truck that's going to carry Volvo forward into the 21st century and we believe it's a world-beater."
"This truck has been subjected to 26 crash tests, a thousand simulated crashes, 200 component tests, 50 sled tests, and 36 full-scale barrier tests in Sweden," says Gary Bone. "We've also run over 60 field test trucks in nine countries around the world and driven more testing kilometres here in Australia than anywhere else. Every failure we've identified in all of these tests is one less that our customers might experience."
The truck is built using ultra-high-strength, thermoset, press-moulded boron steel, laser-welded, to create a far stronger cab. Besides being stronger and safer, the cab now has more upright A-pillars, creating more room inside the cab for the driver, plus room for an emergency exit in the roof of the cab.
"This truck has larger windows and a clearer instrument panel, and the field of vision has been increased considerably so a quick glance at the instrument panel should be enough to give you the information you need," says Gary Bone.
The New FH also features a range of active traffic awareness systems such as Lane Keeping Support, Lane Changing Support, Adaptive Cruise Control and Driver Alert Support.
"Safe driving is all about awareness," says Gary Bone, "and these systems make a massive difference to the amount of information a driver has about the traffic environment around him."
A major feature of the New FH is the I-See software, an 'auto-pilot' system that records your journeys and works with the I-Shift automatic transmission to optimise fuel consumption. I-See works out the best combination of gears, accelerator and brakes for every hill you traverse, and can record up to 4,000 hills.
I-See imitates and automates the driving techniques of the very best drivers in hilly terrain. For example, it will accelerate ahead of an uphill gradient and minimise the number of gear changes. This leaves the driver free to concentrate on the road environment. By using freewheeling as much as possible, I-See can send your truck a long way without really using the engine.
This sophisticated technology is coupled with Volvo Trucks' powerful engine, offering up to 700 hp, and delivering high torque from low revs when needed as well as plenty of horsepower on the flat.
"In heavy transport, fuel efficiency improves with a more powerful engine," says Bone, "and these engines deliver maximum power for minimum fuel burn. With the New FH you can be confident that you're making significant and measurable savings on fuel with every trip. This is a direct boost to the bottom line of any transport operator and one of the few areas where you can improve profitability while reducing your carbon emissions and your impact on the environment."
Volvo is also planning to offer driver training to customers as part of a fuel-efficiency improvement programme.
"Driver behaviour is the single biggest factor in fuel consumption," says Bone, "we know that, and we're going to help our customers make their drivers safer and more economical, and give them the tools to measure their progress in real terms."
A quality truck is one that keeps on going reliably, day after day. But reliability comes from careful attention and diligent maintenance, which is why the New FH features a Telematics Gateway that links the truck to the workshop through the GSM network. This enables the workshop to monitor the vehicle's condition remotely, keeping a watch on brake and clutch wear, battery condition and filters.
"With the Telematics Gateway you can avoid unnecessary visits to the workshop and increase the truck's uptime," says Bone. "Perhaps even more importantly in Australia, where distances are huge, you can avoid expensive breakdowns in remote locations by knowing the state of readiness of your truck for a particular journey."
The New FH features a new and more comfortable 815mm mattress as standard, with an optional 955mm extendable bunk, installed at the back of a cab which is a whole cubic metre larger than the Globetrotter XL.
"Everything in the cab has been improved," says Gary Bone, "we set out to make it both a comfortable workplace and welcoming space for relaxation and rest. When you spend five days a week in your truck, you want to be comfortable and well-rested."
An improved seat and steering wheel adjustment system, a more convenient instrument cluster, a smooth one-piece instrument panel, larger windows and high-visibility rear-view mirrors all combine to create a sense of space and comfort. There's even a single Emergency button that connects the driver directly with the Volvo Action Service for immediate support.
And for those who just love the look of a truck, the New FH doesn't disappoint, with unique design details inside and out, including a new grille, chrome detailing, special paintwork and cab side design, leather upholstery and a unique colour scheme.
Setting the pace
"Volvo has always aimed to stay ahead of the competition," says Gary Bone, "and with the New FH we've thrown down the gauntlet. This truck is way ahead, whether it's in safety, fuel efficiency or driver comfort. We've used every type of technology at our disposal, from the very materials that make up the truck, to the most sophisticated computer and telecommunications systems.
"But this truck is about more than that, it's about helping our customers find ways to improve their profitability, and it's about putting the driver at the centre of everything, because without a driver, a truck is nothing. We believe the New FH will rapidly become the truck of choice for both drivers and operators, and we're very excited about building them right here in Australia."