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VOLVO BUILDS VOCATIONAL TRACK

While in Dublin, I had the opportunity to be among the first to drive a Volvo VHD on the company’s off-road vocational track. The track, which is not yet complete, will be surrounded by a paved, banked, 1.1-mile road course. Volvo often...


I drove this Volvo VHD on the company's new, yet-to-be-completed off-road track.
I drove this Volvo VHD on the company's new, yet-to-be-completed off-road track.

While in Dublin, I had the opportunity to be among the first to drive a Volvo VHD on the company’s off-road vocational track. The track, which is not yet complete, will be surrounded by a paved, banked, 1.1-mile road course. Volvo often hosts customers at its New River Valley truck plant, yet test drives must be done on the Interstate, which poses a problem for those fleet owners who don’t carry a CDL. Volvo has long wanted to build a track outside its plant, but, as plant manager Lars Blomberg told me, “It’s always difficult to get money approved.”

So, the folks in Dublin got creative. They went to the union and sought permission to take a few workers off the line and put them to work moving dirt out back. It should come as no surprise that several Volvo plant workers had experience operating heavy machinery and that they’d love nothing more than to break up their routine by spending some time working on a special project of this magnitude. A call was placed to Volvo’s heavy equipment group, and a favourable deal on equipment rentals secured. Before long, dirt was being dug up behind the plant and the track began to take shape.

In building this track, Volvo adopted my favourite philosophy of, “It’s better to beg for forgiveness afterwards than ask for permission beforehand.” So there was some nervousness about the arrival (a few days before my own) of Volvo boss Olof Persson (the big boss, from Sweden), who was schedule to arrive for a visit. Lars said he loved what he saw and gave the crew his blessing after driving the track himself.

This track is a pretty big deal for Volvo, which is looking for a better environment in which to demonstrate its VHD vocational truck. It hasn’t had anything quite like this in the past, so Volvo’s excited about the opportunity to bring in customers, show them how the trucks are built and then take them out to the track where they can experience the VHD and I-Shift transmission in a safe environment that mirrors – or exceeds – all the rigors that the truck will encounter on the job site. The track is slated to be finished next Summer. For more info, check this out.


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