DUBLIN, Va. – The Volvo VNX – the third model to be unveiled as part of its Shape of Trucks to Come product revamp – brings on-highway comfort to the heavy-haul segment.
The severe service tractor was shown for the first time today at Volvo Truck’s Customer Center here. It brings all the amenities found in the new VNL and VNR on-highway and regional haul tractors, to the heavy-haul segment, while also introducing updates designed to improve durability and ruggedness.
The new Volvo VNX heavy hauler.
It also marks the return of a big bore high-horsepower engine, after the discontinuation of Volvo’s D16 engine last year. The Cummins X15 Performance series engine is available in the VNX with up to 605 hp and 2,050 lb.-ft. of torque. Or it can be spec’d with 565 hp and 1,850 lb.-ft.
The Volvo D13 is also offered with either 455 or 500 hp, and 1,750 and 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque, respectively.
“It’s not a very big market, but it’s a very specialized market,” Chris Stadler, product marketing manager for regional haul, said of the heavy-haul segment. The VNX will be aimed at applications such as forestry and logging, heavy tanker, B-train, heavy flatbed, and lowboy. It boasts a gross combination weight (GCW) rating of up to 225,000 lbs.
“It’s designed with a purpose,” Stadler said. “We listened to customers, learned about their operations, and provided the spec’s they need to carry that heavy load.”
Three models of the VNX are available: the 300 is a day cab; the 400 offers a small 42-inch bunk for occasional overnight trips; and the 740 offers a 70-inch sleeper with all the creature comforts found in the on-highway VNL model, including an optional reclining bunk and airline-style sliding window shades.
Volvo also incorporated operator feedback into exterior design enhancements aimed at improving the durability of the truck.
“We reached out to more customers to understand their business,” said Stadler.
Canadian customers had complained that rocks would crack the splash shield in extreme cold weather, so Volvo went to its supplier and had them re-engineer the shields to withstand impact at colder temperatures. A dual steering gear allows for a tight 45-degree wheel cut. Front axles are rated at 16,000 or 20,000 lbs to support heavy loads, while the rears are rated at 46,000 lbs.
The frame rail is 0.44 inches thick and a heavy-duty tow hook supports 60,000 lbs. A steel cross-member behind the aluminum bumper provides additional strength for towing. Fender extensions have been designed to accommodate wider heavy-haul tires and, and new splash shields to minimize tire spray.
Ground clearance has been increased to 12 inches, and the front end is angled to clear the ground on extremely uneven road surfaces.
But in addition to all the upgrades for durability, the new VNX also incorporates the luxurious interior first rolled out on the VNL and VNR linehaul and regional haul models. This includes all-LED lighting – inside and out – a “position perfect” steering wheel loaded with controls, and a new full-color driver information display. Additional storage, power outlets, and control panels have also been brought to the VNX, and visibility and fuel economy are both improved thanks to a more aerodynamic hood design.
A full range of manual and automated manual transmissions are available, but Volvo encourages the use of the I-Shift in even the heaviest applications.
“Integrated drivelines are here to stay, and we are making them work better in different applications,” said John Moore, product marketing manager, powertrain. “In the past, we talked about integrated drivelines mainly when downspeeding, but they also work exceptionally well in heavy-haul. When you hit a relatively small grade of 0.7%, this thing is going to downshift fast – we know when to downshift and when to hold gears.”
The integrated Volvo powertrain comes with heavy-haul shift programming for optimal performance when the gross combination weight exceeds 150,000 lbs. The heavy-haul software maintains momentum – even uphill.
The I-Shift can be ordered in 13- and 14-speed configurations with crawler gears that provide exceptional low-speed maneuverability at speeds as slow as 0.6 mph. It’s approved for GCWs up to 225,000 lbs. Volvo also offers Eaton 13- and 18-speed manual transmissions, and when spec’d with Cummins power, a full range of automated and manual Eaton transmissions.
The I-Shift has been ruggedized for heavy-haul applications. It features a higher viscosity oil, a hardened main box, range cone and interior gears, improved split synchronizers, and increased clutch durability. Torsional vibrations have also been reduced, with bigger springs installed to absorb more vibration.
Servicing the new VNX will also be easier, according to Ash Maki, product marketing manager responsible for uptime services and connectivity. He said the splash shield now lifts with the hood, providing easier access to the engine. A removable engine cover and removable floor inserts also improve access to the engine from inside the cab, providing access in 50% less time than the previous design with a two-piece engine tunnel cover.
The new VNX is available for order now, with production slated to start in the second quarter.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies