The new Volvo VHD raises the bar on what it takes to be a great vocational truck
For decades conventional wisdom said vocational truck drivers and owners only cared about dependability. Considerations like safety, efficiency, comfort, and body design couldn’t be part of the decision when choosing a dump truck or mixer. Volvo Trucks’ engineering team decided to ignore conventional wisdom when they began work on the new Volvo VHD series. They set out to build a vocational truck that has it all.
“No doubt, the VHD works in rough, demanding environments,” says Alex Henriques, Chief Exterior Designer for the project. “So, we needed to make the robustness more evident, but also highlight the innovations it offers. We continued building on the Volvo Trucks family look and brought in the brand elements we’ve been developing on other products.”
Features such as new headlamps, fender flares, grille design, air intakes, and bumpers make the redesigned VHD progressive and robust.
"We continued building on the Volvo family look and brought in the brand elements we’ve been developing on other products."
Alex Henriques, Chief Exterior Designer
They didn’t stop there. The new VHD comes with Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS), a revolutionary Volvo innovation that greatly improves performance on a job site and on the road. VDS dramatically reduces the driver’s steering effort on rough and tight job sites. The reduction of steering feedback from the road enables drivers to navigate with ease.\
“Our customers demand we do everything we can for the driver—increasing comfort while also minimizing the chance of accidents,” says John Felder, Product Marketing Manager on the project.
Another driver’s aid is Volvo Active Driver Assist (VADA), offering an integrated and comprehensive forward collision mitigation system, reducing the risk of an accident by 82%.VADA issues visual and audio warnings to alert the driver of an impending collision. If the driver doesn’t react, the truck will automatically downshift, throttle down, and apply brakes to help avoid collisions.
The VHD’s new LED headlamps link the truck visually to the recent body design evolutions in the VNL and VNR models. Not only do the new headlamps illuminate a job site better and throw more light down the road, they shape light so less glare spills into oncoming vehicles, making the road safer for everyone. While the sun is up, the VHD’s daylight running lamps shine brighter with a graphic signature familiar to the Volvo Trucks family. When the turn signal is active, the white daytime running lamp shifts to high-visibility amber to signal a turn, a touch associated with premium vehicles. Also, the new headlamp boasts a longer life than incandescent and halogen lights. A thick bezel around the sealed headlamp provides protection and durability.
Other major design upgrades are also clear to see. The rugged, stamped-steel bumper comes in three pieces, so a ding on one corner doesn’t require replacement of the entire bumper. The new, faceted design integrates with the overall grille refresh for a more visually cohesive look. Integrated into the bumper design is a new center tow pin, a customer-requested feature. It incorporates a sturdy connection to the chassis frame, permitting a tow capacity of up to 80,000 pounds. “This new feature gives operators the ability to be towed if they get stuck. Or it can be used to pull out another vehicle that may be stuck,” says Carl Stone, Senior Project Manager on the new VHD. “This should be a class-leading feature and one of the most important upgrades on the truck.”
It’s one thing to look the part, but the new VHD was also built to do its part. The Volvo I-Shift with Crawler Gears adds one or two extra low gears to the standard 12-speed transmission. It enables the highest weight capacity in an automated manual transmission, ensuring torque and starting power under the heaviest of loads and on extreme terrain. The 14-speed transmission can propel the truck at speeds as low as 0.6 mph for curb pours or other low speed maneuvers.
Additionally, the heavy-duty T-Ride suspension creates sure-footed traction. Using trunnion-mounted springs and rubber towers, the suspension applies constant pressure on the drive wheels to keep them solidly on the ground. Nylon bushings and sealed V-rods and torque rods provide continuous performance with less maintenance.
A great work vehicle incorporates details drivers notice and appreciate long after their first impression—and the VHD is packed full of simple and smart details. Many of the new features improving comfort and ergonomics are based on driver input.
Volvo designers moved the ignition switch to the lower left-hand side of the dash, adjacent to the PTO switch. This location allows the operator to start and stop the engine with the door open, managing engine and PTO operation while standing on the ground.
Pre-trip inspections are more efficient as engine fluids are positioned on the cold side of the engine, offering easy access from the driver side of the truck.
Puddle lights located on the bottom of the doors illuminate the cab steps for safe entry and exit.
The new Volvo VHD has a large windshield designed to maximize visibility, so on a crowded job site, drivers can see the many surrounding work areas and maneuver safely around them. Rain-sensing wipers keep the windshield clear without driver action.
The cab is quiet, comfortable, and spacious. The new wave piston engine runs more smoothly, reducing interior vibration and noise. The new, heavier vinyl floor mats further dampen noise—and are removable in sections for easier cleaning.
“In many trucks, it is difficult to have a conversation bouncing through a job site. In this new VHD, the driver can have a normal conversation,” says Felder. “The spacious cab allows a driver to wear a hard hat and not bump his or her head on the ceiling while navigating through rough terrain.”
The VHD’s highly flexible body builder module is designed so the interface between the truck and body behaves reliably. It helps troubleshoot issues between the truck and body by communicating fault codes.
Volvo Trucks has dedicated teams to help deliver a great work truck. Body installation is a complex dance involving three partners; the sales team, the factory and the body builder. During the ordering process, the factory vocational staff and the truck sales staff work to specify the truck for an efficient body installation. Volvo then supports the body builder with a team located at the Uptime Center. That team is available to answer questions about the truck-body interface.
“What moves the world is people, not machines,” says Felder. “Before the truck purchase, we work with the customer to ensure the foundation is in place for quick integration at the body builder. We have teams constantly working with every single truck.”
The new Volvo VHD combines power and advanced technology, achieving the engineering team’s original goal—set a new standard for vocational trucks. With the new design, the VHD is now the best looking vocational vehicle available, while the innovations found throughout the truck make it much more than eye candy.
“Our customers expect their vocational trucks to be perceived at a certain level,” Henriques says. “We’re happy to deliver these new, premium-looking trucks that offer so much productivity.”
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