A unique driver focus, and a truly revolutionary cab paved the way for the instant success of the Volvo FH when launched in 1993. It was also the most technically advanced truck of its time. A quarter of a century later it remains an innovative leader within areas that directly benefit drivers, such as safety and driver care. Add numerous ground-breaking inventions within environmental care and productivity, and it’s clear that the Volvo FH has changed the world of trucking—and there is still more to come.
In South Africa, the Volvo FH, specifically the FH440 6×4 T-T was the single most sold heavy-duty truck in the year 2017, which is testament to a quarter century of the Volvo FH driving progress. “Locally, the Volvo FH is as much a drivers’ choice as in the rest of our markets. The FH440 6×4 T-T model sold just over 860 units last year and the closest competitor model at around 670 units. We are so happy to be celebrating the 25-year Anniversary of this iconic truck,” says Torbjörn Christensson, President of Volvo Group Southern Africa.
Claes Nilsson, President Volvo Trucks, sees the Volvo FH as the backbone of Volvo Trucks when it comes to image as well as creating profitability for the customers, while offering a state of the art workplace for the drivers. He recalls how this bold introduction in 1993 marked the start of a very successful time for Volvo Trucks.
“We were coming towards the end of a recession but decided to make a big push. This proved a real success. We launched the FH at the right time and had the most attractive product when the economy and transport market turned upwards again,” says Nilsson.
The first version was based on a new chassis whose dynamic design facilitated flexible solutions for different transport applications. Everything had a clear business focus, including the fuel-saving aerodynamics, ground-breaking driveline and the Volvo Engine Brake. Top all of that with the new cab and the Volvo FH was announced as something special. Volvo Trucks early on decided to put the driver as the focus and over 1,500 drivers took part in extensive research clinics. The end-result — a safer and comfortable cab that created a whole new driving, resting and sleeping experience.
“There are so many possibilities to create fantastic improvements. We will explore all of them to make sure that the Volvo FH remains the drivers’ first choice and keeps delivering profits for our customers. Without revealing too much, it’s safe to say that the coming years will be even more exciting than the first twenty-five,” Nilsson concluded.
Brief timeline of how Volvo FH has driven progress over the years
- 1993 – VEB (Volvo Engine Brake)
- 1994, 2000 and 2014 – The Volvo FH became the only model to be named truck of the year three times
- 1995 – First Trucks to be equipped with the Volvo three point seatbelt
- 1996 – Introduced Front Underrun Protection System (FUPS) ten years before it became a legal requirement
- 2001 – introduction of the revolutionary gearbox I-Shift. It is today a benchmark in the industry and has evolved to meet different demands and needs. Fast forward to the I-Shift Dual Clutch that is especially beneficial for regional and long-haul transports on hilly and curvy routes. And the 2018, I-Shift with crawler gears, that permits the truck to start from a standstill with loads of up to 325 tons and drive as slow as 0.5 km per hours, which make precision manoeuvres in tough terrain easier to perform.
- 2012 – The all-new Volvo FH was launched, with a completely new cab and an integrated climate system I-park Cool for premium comfort.
- 2013 – Volvo Dynamic Steering which has led to easier, safer, more stable and precise driving while reducing strain injuries.
- 2017 with the launch of Volvo FH LNG. This gas-powered truck delivers the same performance as other Volvo FH trucks, it can be run on either biogas, which cuts CO2 by up to 100 per cent, or natural gas which reduces CO2 emissions by 20 per cent compared with diesel.