By: Raman Singh and Jag Dhatt
My trip to Roanoke, NC took over 12 hours and took 3 flights; thankfully, none of the flights were delayed or late, so the day went by quickly. Upon arrival to Roanoke, officials from Volvo Trucks USA greeted us and took us to the hotel, where it was confirmed that the tour of the brand new Customer Center would be taking place in the morning.
During the evening dinner, guests were introduced to the Volvo VNL 760, which upon initial looks seems like an amazing truck.
Day two of the event began with breakfast and time to interact with fellow guests. After that, it was off to the brand-new Volvo Customer Center, where an extensive tour of the facility took place. A live tour took us through the paint shop and robot assembly line, where we witnessed the assembly of whole truck from start to finish. This was real eye-opening experience since it showed how much technology is used to make these trucks. Furthermore, there’s a personal touch that goes into these beautiful products from the people working on them.
The day also consisted of four break away sessions, which gave information and details about the new VNR and VNL. The real good stuff came after lunch, where we got to see the complete lineup of the new trucks and drive them as well.
The new VNL series was kept secret, even from the families of the teams developing it. For over three years, all information was carefully monitored and secured, even more than Colonel Sanders’ secret KFC recipe.
Since the VNR had already been launched before, this event was mainly to introduce the VNL. This new truck has a beautiful exterior, complete with signature Volvo daytime running lights. The VNL series is equipped with automotive-quality LED headlights that produce abundant bright light to improve visibility. Automatic lighting and rain-sensing wipers are also available to improve safety. These lights make the truck look like something made from the future. The new design includes new sleek bodywork that improves aerodynamics. For functionality, the three-piece bumper makes it easier for mechanics to work on the truck. The grille is also something that caught my eye, beautifully positioned and sets the tone of the truck. Another exciting feature was to see that an over the road 70-inch sleeper gets a lift axle.
Now let’s talk about the driver living environment. It’s pretty clear that Volvo really thought about drivers as now, there are 5 USB chargers and 12 AC charging points in the cab so that nothing battery powered gets drained. The new Volvo VNL is also equipped with Volvo’s smart steering wheel, putting controls for nearly all of the driver interface functions right at the driver’s fingertips. The smart steering wheel is attached to Volvo’s Perfect Position air-assisted, infinitely adjustable steering column, which enables drivers not only to tilt and telescope the steering column, but also tilt the steering wheel relative to the steering column. This lets drivers of all statures find the perfect steering wheel position and easily view the driver information display. Unlike trucks in the past, this new VNL really showcases that the driver’s comfort is the priority.
That comfort extends to the four sleeper cab configurations available in the new Volvo VNL series. Designed to provide drivers a comfortable place to rest after a long day on the road, the sleeper options are packed with a number of space-saving, comfort-boosting innovations. Additionally, an all-new, full 70-inch sleeper is available in the Volvo VNL 760 and 740 models, taking Volvo’s legendary comfort to an all-time high.
For the first time in North America, Volvo’s Globetrotter trim levels will be available on the VNL 760 and VNL 860 sleeper models. Long a symbol of ultimate driver comfort, the Globetrotter trim levels include a full aerodynamic package, polished wheels, high-end seating, as well as a refrigerator, inverter and parking cooler package.
Another very cool feature which I like is the Volvo Active Driver Assist by Bendix, which is now standard on all Volvo VNL models. This is a camera and radar-based system that combines forward collision mitigation warnings and active braking, even with stationary vehicles. The system features an industry-first heads up windshield display if a driver approaches too closely to an object in front of them. If no driver action is taken, the system can automatically apply the brakes to help mitigate a collision. Volvo Enhanced Stability Technology, an electronic stability control system, is also standard on all VNL models. These are features that were normally only found on luxury cars!
An exciting feature usually found on luxury cars but is now standard on all VNL models is Superior Connectivity, including Volvo’s Remote Diagnostics, a factory-installed telematics hardware system that provides connectivity for proactive diagnostics and monitoring of critical engine, transmission and after-treatment trouble codes. The same hardware also allows customers to perform powertrain software and parameter updates over-the-air with Remote Programming, which helps improve uptime and vehicle efficiency, while reducing downtime costs.
On the road, both the Volvo VNL and VNR are really great trucks and are very easy to drive. The cab is very quiet and if there are two people in the cab, they can carry on a conversation without raising their voices, something that was not possible with trucks in the past. The re-arrangeable cup holders are great and can accommodate a number of various cup sizes. The refrigerator is now within arm’s reach, located under the passenger seat, making it easier to grab something versus having it in rear portion of the cab. During the drive portion, I really enjoyed the fact that the interactive dashboard can now be customized to show features that the driver needs or wants. Rather than having a generic dashboard, drivers can now customize it a number of ways.
Volvo’s newest I-Shift transmission is spot on. Not only does it make driving easier, but it uses intelligent electronics to continuously monitor grade, speed, weight, and engine load, shifting when necessary or holding a gear, whichever saves more fuel. So regardless of experience or training, the new I-Shift helps every driver become more fuel efficient.