‘Comprehensive updates’

Volvo modernizes auto hauler, vocational models.

November 2020

Tom Berg

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Volvo Trucks North America announced over the summer “comprehensive updates” to its auto hauler, which include enhanced driver-assist features for greater safety, and for the vocational Volvo Heavy Duty model, including new styling, safety and comfort enhancements. The two models are related and use extra-heavy duty structural designs to handle concentrated loads seen in the transport of cars and trucks, and materials, trash and rubble that the vocational model sees, officials said.

The Volvo auto hauler has deep-drop front axles, low-height Volvo Air Ride rear suspensions, and, through a partnership with Fontaine Modifications, lower overall roof heights compared to standard Volvo highway models. These allow larger passenger vehicles such as pick-up trucks, minivans and SUVs to be positioned above the cab while keeping a loaded chassis below height and clearance regulations.

No structural changes outside of the roof modification are required on the cab, protecting Volvo Trucks’ front impact safety features and retaining quality build and ride characteristics, said Andy Hanson, product marketing manager.

An updated Volvo Active Driver Assist collision-avoidance system available on the new Volvo auto hauler features radar and automatic braking technology to monitor road hazards provide the ability to completely stop in certain emergency situations.

Other engineering features include remote start, Volvo’s I-Shift automated manual transmission and the Position Perfect steering configuration.

Hanson said the cab interior is the most quiet and comfortable in the industry, and it offers improved driver performance features and amenities. Included are new LED lighting for increased visibility and a symmetrical instrument cluster with a high-resolution, programmable LCD screen that conveys critical vehicle alerts and system settings.

An optional infotainment system features a 7-inch color touch screen and integrated premium audio.

A remote diagnostics platform, with 24/7 monitoring of engine, transmission and aftertreatment systems, is standard on the new auto hauler. Enhanced proactive diagnostics enables a detailed analysis of critical fault codes for repair planning, immediate communication if actions are required, and streamlined service procedures.

Remote programming, as part of the remote diagnostics service bundle, also is available on the redesigned Volvo auto hauler. Remote programming provides significant time savings as updates and parameter changes can be done in a matter of minutes over the air, without the customer having to visit a dealership.

“The technology behind the (Volvo Active Driver Assist) system and our range of other driver productivity features built into the new Volvo auto hauler has progressed exponentially over the last several years,” Hanson said.

The new Volvo auto hauler will come in three variations:

  • VAH 300 daycab (Fontaine model 94 or 97) offers 11-vehicle capacity and a tight turning radius for easier maneuvering. The VAH 300 features a 113.6-inch bumper to back of the cab area and is available with a 94.5- or 97.5-inch (unladen) roof height.
  • VAH 400 sleeper (Fontaine model 97 or 102) provides a 52-inch interior ceiling height for comfort during overnight extended regional deliveries. Along with maximum payload capacity, agility and driver amenities, the VAH 400 offers a 145.6-inch bumper to back of the cab area and can be ordered with a 97.5- or 102.5- inch roof height.
  • VAH 600 sleeper (Fontaine model 97 or 102) offers a ceiling height of 61 inches for maximum comfort on long-haul routes requiring multiple nights on the road. A premium sleeper features a 36-inch-wide mattress, ample storage space and refrigerator capacity. The VAH 600 has a 164.1- inch bumper to back of the cab area and is available with a 97.5- or 102.5-inch roof height.

Redesigned Volvo Heavy Duty

The most significant evolution of the builder’s vocational offering in decades, the Volvo Heavy Duty is a combination of structural upgrades, technological and innovative advances, said John Felder, product marketing manager.

“The new Volvo VHD looks every bit as capable as it is, designed to bring new energy into the vocational market,” he said. “Everything we’ve done to improve the model to make it more versatile and reliable also extends the life of the vehicle and increases driver productivity, safety and comfort. Drivers will love this truck because it makes hard work easy. It’s the perfect example of tougher made smarter.”

Volvo Heavy Duty upgrades include:

  • Restyled exterior with a new grille design, as well as new LED high/low beam headlights with a brighter, more focused beam for increased visibility. An available de-icing feature burns through ice and snow that accumulates on headlamps in cold weather.
  • Volvo Dynamic Steering delivers a safe, comfortable driver experience by adding torque to reduce steering strain at low speeds and remove vibrations caused by rough terrain.
  • Next-generation Volvo Active Driver Assist with integrated radar/camera capabilities, automatic emergency braking, highway departure warnings, adaptive cruise control and more.
  • A new, robust VHD bumper features a heavy-duty 45 mm tow pin rated for 80,000 pounds. Responding to customer requests, the rugged tow pin allows for a quick pull out of sticky situations.
  • An interior for improved driver comfort and productivity. For example, the truck’s ignition has been moved to the lower left-hand side of the dash, while the steering wheel buttons are more touch-friendly and clustered intuitively to help drivers feel more confident.
  • The latest in connectivity solutions, such as remote programming and remote diagnostics, allow customers to use real data insights to make the right decisions for increased safety and truck productivity.

Volvo’s I-Shift transmission with crawler gears adds one or two gears to the 12-speed Volvo I-Shift transmission, enabling the VHD to start on steep grades, provide low-speed control, and reach maximum highway speeds with faster rear axle ratios, Felder said. The Volvo T-ride suspension also offers a new ride stiffness option for mixers and trucks with wing plows. LL